Is Graduate/Professional School in Your Future?
Each year approximately 25% of seniors proceed directly from Lake Forest to graduate or professional school with a number of alumni pursuing graduate school later in their careers.
Is Graduate Study Right For You?
You’ll likely get conflicting advice from mentors and family members about when (or if) graduate school needs to be part of your career plan.
Why might there be debate?
- Different fields have differing expectations for when graduate degrees fit into a career plan and how much work or research experience applicants will have prior to graduate/professional school.
- Some people believe that more education is always better, but sometimes too much education can price you out of your target market - graduate school is not a good place to “hide” if you are uncertain about your career plans or struggling in the job search
- It can seem convenient to continue life as a student before additional community and family obligations need to be juggled alongside school
So, how can you decide whether to invest the time and energy into a graduate degree?
- Talk to a wide assortment of professionals in your intended career to learn about the norms for when people tend to pursue graduate study and the types of programs the complete — even people in the same career field may gain more or less value from particular degrees
- Assess if you will be a competitive candidate for quality programs by talking with your faculty advisor, researching programs, and evaluating how closely your GPA, test scores, and other attributes match the school’s average student profile
- Develop an understanding for the career support provided through the graduate programs you are considering - How typical is it that people get the kinds of jobs you want after the program? If your goal is a less common outcome for the program, what specific elements of the program (like courses, professional networks, or location) will help you to be successful in reaching your goal? How important is your goal?
Researching Graduate Schools
- Research by program or state at petersons.com or gradschools.com or websites that are specific to your field of study.
- Talk to your Faculty Advisor. Motivated students can take advantage of several accelerated dual-degree programs in which students study at the College for three years and then go on to a graduate program with one of our partnering institutions.
- Connect with people who have been in a program to give you a unique perspective. Call your prospective program and ask if you can have an Informational Interview with a student.
Lake Forest College students pursue graduate education at the nation’s finest institutions. Faculty and staff can assist you in the grad school application process. We also work closely with Princeton Review. - a top-ranked exam provider - to provide free practice admissions tests for alumni and students, including:
- LSAT: For law school
- GMAT: For graduate school in business
- GRE: For graduate and professional programs
- MCAT: For medical school
How to Build Test Preparation into Your Everyday Life
The tests you take for admission to graduate/professional school influence the programs that you can realistically consider, and most schools do not consider a “super score” that lets you use the best results from each section across exams – in other words, don’t plan to take the test multiple times!
While test preparation courses can be helpful, here are things you can do as part of your life as a student at Lake Forest College to prepare:
- Discover how to read a lot…and remember what you read. Sometimes graduate school really is about reading a quantity of information and drawing conclusions about it. When you read large amounts of information, you also need to be able reflect on what you read – being able to place a check mark on your to do list won’t provide what your professor desires and won’t help you to develop the skills for scanning passages on standardized exams.
- Consider taking courses in history, politics, and English.
- Strengthen your verbal abilities. It’s difficult to read a lot, to analyze information, or do well on a verbal section of an exam if you have a limited vocabulary.
- Look up words you read and don’t understand in a dictionary (or online at http://www.merriam-webster.com/). Ask what words mean when you don’t understand them – words have connotative and denotative meaning, and what you read in the dictionary might not fully improve your understanding of a word. Practice using new words in your vocabulary.
- Consider taking English and communication courses that require use of your verbal skills like: ENG 110, rhetoric, and public presentation courses.
Develop your personal management skills. Despite your best efforts to follow all other items on this list, if you don’t invest in your ability to manage your emotions and time, you will likely struggle with taking the actions that you need to take to be successful.
On-Campus Support and Resources
If you are anxious about whether you will be successful in graduate school or on the exam, you may be creating personal barriers. If you constantly think that you’ll plan for graduate school “later”, but continually put off steps of the process, you might wait too long and miss the chance to be a competitive applicant for the best programs. To be nervous about your future is completely normal; to avoid dealing with it, may be getting in your way more than you realize.
For support with developing your abilities to manage time, priorities, and emotions, consider the following resources, which each provide different kinds of support:
Buchanan Hall 110
- Buchanan Hall 110