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Graduate and Professional School Guide

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					                      Graduate and Professional School Guide
    T   his guide is designed to get you started in your graduate school quest. Career advisors and faculty at
        Oberlin College are available to discuss additional questions and provide guidance on pursuing a
    graduate or professional degree.


    Is Graduate School                          -   Learn skills not obtained in school
                                                -   Develop confidence                          PhD Degree
    Right for You?                              -   Investigate fields of interest              A PhD program usually requires students
                                                -   Develop motivation                          to attend courses on a full-time basis for at
    Graduate school is a decision that          -   Gain experience to aid your graduate        least one year. At the end of the second
    should be based on an individual’s need         application                                 year, qualifying exams are given and may
    for the degree. Many students lacking a
                                                                                                take several days to complete. In
    career objective believe graduate school    Reasons to go straight to graduate school:      addition, students are often required to
    is a good alternative to entering the job   - High enthusiasm and motivation                teach undergraduate courses and/or assist
    market. However, the high cost of the
                                                - Certain fields recommend                      with research and complete a language
    degree, intense workload, and small
                                                    continuation (i.e. if you want to be an     requirement prior to degree completion.
    rate of student completion, can make
                                                    English professor, it is probably best      A thesis/dissertation proposal, paper and
    graduate school a costly decision. The
                                                    to try and go straight to graduate          defense are also required to obtain a PhD.
    cumulative debt graduate students incur
                                                    school – talk to your faculty advisor)
    typically ranges from $30,000 to
    $120,000, and many students do                                                              Factors to Consider When
    accumulate even larger amounts of debt      Master’ s vs. PhD?                              Selecting a Program
    (www.finaid.org). Nationally, nearly
    50% of doctoral students fail to finish     Questions to consider when deciding             -   Emphasis and specialties of the
    their degrees.                              between a Master’s or PhD                           department
                                                - What is needed for my career?                 -   Research interests of the faculty
    Knowing what to expect can help             - Within a single department, are               -   Culture of the department
    ensure success in graduate school.              master’s students able to apply to the      -   Prestige of the department
    There are many differences between              PhD program?                                -   Financial support available
    graduate and undergraduate education.       - Is it easier to get into the PhD              -   Extra-years support
    Many master’s and all doctoral                  program if you are already a master’s       -   Attrition policy
    programs leave the structure of the             student in the program as opposed to        -   Estimated completion time
    program up to the individual. Students          applying from the outside?                  -   Placement statistics
    are responsible for selecting their         - How does financial aid compare                -   Technical resources
    advisor and thesis topic, studying for          between the two degrees?                    -   Teaching requirement
    oral exams, and making job search                                                           -   Language requirements (may add a
    contacts for post graduation. While         Master’s Degree                                     year)
    grades may be the primary focus for         Master’s degree programs are usually one        -   Social climate
    getting accepted, teaching classes,         to three years or longer if attending on a
    publishing papers, presenting               part-time basis. The different types of         Choosing an Advisor
    departmental seminars, serving on           master’s degrees include professional or
    committees, and interacting collegially     vocational programs that do not lead to a       Finding an advisor at your intended
    with faculty are also expected during       PhD (i.e. MBA) and academic degrees             graduate school during the application
    the program.                                that are often earned as a first step towards   process is crucial for some fields and
                                                a PhD. Both types of programs generally         programs, but is not necessary for others.
    To Work Or Go To School                     require students to take comprehensive          Talk with your faculty at Oberlin in order
                                                exams prior to graduating. The exams
    First?                                      may be written or oral depending on the
                                                                                                to determine whether and when you
                                                                                                should look for a graduate school advisor
                                                school and are generally less demanding         in your field of study.
    Reasons to work prior to graduate
                                                then PhD qualifying exams. Additionally,
    school:
                                                a thesis may be required.
    - Recharge your batteries



OBERLIN
The Office of Career Services  www.oberlin.edu/career  440-775-8140  career.services@oberlin.edu
If you do need to choose a graduate school      -   Request copies of your official            -   Send confirmation and deposit to your
advisor, here are some characteristics to           transcript                                     chosen institution
seek:                                           -   Draft a general statement of purpose       -   Notify other programs of your
    - Career maturity and tenure                    and have it reviewed by faculty or a           declination to their offer
    - Active and respected in their field           career advisor                             -   Send thank you notes to faculty who
    - Academic eminence; well respected         -   Register for required graduate                 wrote you a letter of recommendation
    - Political clout                               admissions exam                                and notify them of your decision
    - Will be able to spend significant         -   Prepare for graduate admissions
        time with you                               exams. You might consider taking a         Recommendation Letters
                                                    review course, using a test prep
When choosing an advisor, put together a            guidebook, and/or taking practice tests,
                                                                                               Contact faculty or professionals
short list of possible candidates before you        depending on the test you plan to take,
                                                                                               knowledgeable about your personal
apply to any programs. Talk to your                 and your personal learning style and
                                                                                               strengths and abilities. Once you have
current professors for possible advisor             study habits. Whichever method you
                                                                                               selected a professor, schedule a time to
suggestions and university departments.             choose, be sure you plan enough time
                                                                                               discuss your future plans and goals. Provide
Look for individuals conducting cutting             for thorough preparation.
                                                                                               the professor with a copy of your most
edge research that you have discussed in        -   Correspond with potential graduate
                                                                                               current resume and your personal statement
class or heard at a conference. Go to the           school advisor; continue developing
                                                                                               so he or she may refer to your
departmental website and read through               the relationship
                                                                                               accomplishments in the letter. If you
faculty descriptions of potential advisors at   -   Visit possible advisors and their
                                                                                               haven’t had a class with your letter writer
graduate schools. Contact prospective               current graduate students
                                                                                               recently, it may also be helpful to provide a
advisors and set up an interview while                                                         copy of a high quality assignment you
visiting universities.                          Senior Year                                    completed for him or her. Be sure to
                                                -   Budget application expenses                provide a reference form if the program
Interact with your preferred program/school         (application fees, cost of entrance        includes one with the application materials.
often and build a relationship with them.           exams, transcript fees, etc.)
To get to know the potential advisor, sit in                                                   The Office of Career Services has
on one of their classes or attend a             Fall - Apply                                   implemented a partnership with Interfolio
conference where they are presenting. Talk      -   Complete financial aid applications        to maintain reference and credential files
to one of their current graduate students to    -   Begin filling out applications as soon     electronically for current students and
learn about the individual. All the while,          as they are available from the             alumni. This service has replaced the
keep in mind the level of comfort you feel          institution                                former method of maintaining paper-based
with the person. Do not choose someone          -   Finalize personal statement                files through the Reference Service/Student
who makes you feel uncomfortable or             -   Follow up with professors who are          Academic Services. For more information
nervous.                                            writing you recommendation letters,        visit www.oberlin.edu/career.
                                                    but haven’t submitted them yet
Suggested Planning Timeline                     -   Take graduate admissions exams as
                                                    needed                                     Financing Options to Research
                                                -   Send completed applications, with all
Junior Spring – Prepare to Apply                                                               Graduate School Level
                                                    required documents, as soon as
-   Request catalogues, and research                                                           -   Merit based awards may be offered
                                                    possible. Many graduate schools
    programs and institutions                                                                      based on the department’s
                                                    consider applications in the order they
-   Obtain GRE Information Bulletin &                                                              recommendation
                                                    are received, so be sure to apply no
    download sample test
                                                    later than one month prior to the
-   Talk with your advisor and faculty
                                                    deadline. Many others have                 Departmental Level
    mentors about programs
                                                    application deadlines as early as          -   Admission committee decides who
-   Identify and contact potential graduate
                                                    December 1. Keep copies of all                 receives funds, typically not based on
    supervisors
                                                    applications for your records                  financial need
-   Begin to solicit letters of                 -   Complete FAFSA in January                  -   May be able to negotiate offer
    recommendation                                                                             -   Scholarships, grants and fellowships
                                                Spring – Post Application                          available (not required to pay back or
Summer Before Senior Year –                     -   One or two weeks after submitting              work)
Prepare to Apply                                    your application, and well before the      -   Teaching and Research Assistantships
-   Accelerate process of choosing schools          deadline, verify with each institution         are more common for PhD support, but
-   Obtain applications and financial aid           that all materials have been received          sometimes available for master’s
    materials and note materials required           and your application is complete               students
    for each one                                -   Schedule interviews as needed
-   Note deadlines and rolling admissions       -   Visit institutions where you have been
    policies for each program                       accepted
                                                -    Perkins – interest accrues after            professions. Generally, these
Financial Aid Office                                 completion of the degree                    programs are intended to encourage
-   Typically need based                        -    Subsidized Stafford – interest is           public service, work with nonprofit
-   Federal Loans are the largest source of          paid by the government until the            organizations, or work with
    graduate financial aid                           completion of the degree                    underserved populations. Check
-   Deadlines are often earlier than            -    Unsubsidized Stafford – interest            the graduate school’s website to see
    application                                      begins during your time in the              if the school offers loan repayment
-   Federal aid is based on the Free                 program                                     assistance, and with professional
    Application for Federal Student Aid         -    PLUS – interest begins during your          associations to find out if federal or
    (FAFSA)                                          time in the program                         state loan repayment assistance is
-   Four types of loans are available:                                                           available in your intended
                                                -    Loan repayment assistance
                                                                                                 profession.
                                                     programs are available in some


                             Grad School Testing Information
                  All Test Information & Schedules are Available Online

                                               GRE General - www.gre.org
           Tests are given year-round at designated testing centers. Register early to get your preferred testing date,
            and to avoid the busy period of November-January. Schedule your appointment online as soon as you
                                          know when you would like to take the test.


                                              GRE Subject Tests - www.gre.org
                   Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology                     Literature in English
                   Biology                                                      Mathematics
                   Chemistry                                                    Physics
                   Computer Science                                             Psychology

                                         Test Dates                             Registration Receipt Date
                                         Oct. 10, 2009                          Sept. 4, 2009
                                         Nov. 7, 2009                           Oct. 2, 2009
                                         April 10, 2010                         March 5, 2010

                                                    MCAT - www.aamc.org
                              24 times in 2009, with most test dates occurring in the spring and summer.

                                            See Carol Sedgwick, the Health Careers Advisor
                                   for additional Medical School testing and admissions information.

                                                      LSAT - www.lsac.org
                                                Test Dates                  Deadline to Register
                                                Sep. 26 & 29, 2009          Aug. 25, 2009
                                                Dec. 5 & 7, 2009            Nov. 3, 2009
                                                Feb. 6 & 8, 2010            Jan. 5, 2010
                                                June, 2010                  TBA

                                                                GMAT
                                                             www.gmat.org

                                    Tests given all year, please see website for details and locations.
               Recommended Reading and Online Resources
Library Resources, Office of Career Services (Stevenson Hall – Longman Commons)
Getting What you Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning a Master’s or PhD,
        Robert L. Peters, PhD
Financing Graduate School, Peterson’s Guides
Don’t Miss Out, Anna and Robert Leider
Grants for Graduate Studies, Peterson’s Guides
The Graduate Scholarship Book, Daniel Cassidy
Strategies for Writing Successful Essays, Nell Merriwether
Graduate Admissions Essays: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why, Donald Asher
The Real Guide to Grad School: What you Better Know Before You Choose – Humanities and Social
        Sciences, by editors of Lingua Franca

Online
Finding Schools and Rankings:
Petersons Guide: www.petersons.com
Graduate School Guide: www.gradschools.com
US News and World Report: www.usnews.com

Entrance Exams
GRE Information: www.gre.org
LSAT: www.lsac.org
GMAT: www.gmat.org
MCAT: www.aamc.org

Finding Money
Financial Aid Information Page: www.finaid.org
FAFSA site: studentaid.ed.gov
Sallie Mae: www.salliemae.com
Nellie Mae: www.nelliemae.com
FastWeb: www.fastweb.com
Financial Aid for International Students: www.edupass.org
Oberlin Nominated Fellowships Watson, Javits, Gates, Mellon, and more: www.oberlin.edu/career

Entrance Exam Prep Courses
GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT:
Kaplan: www.kaplan.com
Princeton Review: www.princetonreview.com

GRE, LSAT, GMAT:
Cleveland Sate University, Continuing Education
Offers courses, visit www.csuohio.edu/ce or call 216.687.2144 for information/schedule

LSAT:
LSAT Intensive Review: www.lsac.org

				
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posted:11/27/2011
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