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Post-Graduate Series Part Six: Graduate School

 
Old 02-16-2009 at 01:55 AM   #1
lorend
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Post-Graduate Series Part Six: Graduate School
Post-Graduate Series Part Six: Graduate School <o>

</o>
BY DANIELLE LORENZ; MACINSIDERS<o>

</o>
Although there have already been six articles about post-graduate studies, I purposefully left out the one on graduate school. In the fall, since I decided that I was going to apply to a graduate program, I might as well write this article after I had finished the application process. So here I am, playing the waiting game...<o>

</o>
A Masters degree (as suggested by the name) provides mastery over a specific area(s) of study. Within the specific area or subject the student will have advanced knowledge about the discipline, as well as be able to complete complex analyses and work independently. If you are contemplating a Masters, start doing your research on prospective schools and requirements early. I started looking into requirements and schools after I finished my second year. This may have been slightly premature, but I was very well prepared and organized in comparison to those who started to consider graduate school in October or November of their fourth year. You will want to know what month your application, funding requests and research scholarship forms are due. Since you will be completing your final year when you are in the process of applying, you are going to want to know exactly what is due and when do you donít miss any deadlines or add unnecessary stressors. <o>

</o>
It is a good idea to start contacting professors at prospective schools far in advance of when you will be applying. The sooner you start discussing your research interests with a professor the sooner you will realize if you have similar research interests, and thus how likely your chances of being accepted into the program. Professors are usually quite interested to talk about their areas of research with students (or at least that was my experience). It is also good to establish a dialogue with profs, since the board that looks at applications will be composed of the very people you are speaking to. <o>

</o>
Jennifer M. Phelps, assistant dean of graduate studies at the University of British Columbia says that prospective graduate student should be self-motivated, focused, and have a desire to discover or learn more about a specific subject area. Students should also have a specific area of interest in mind if they are thinking about applying. Liking biology is fine for an undergraduate, but as graduate student you would want to know if the genetic frequency of albinism in domestic rabbits is equivalent to that of humans on the island of Borneo, for example. If your research area is not defined it is unlikely you will be accepted; as it shows you are not serious enough about your studies. Granted, what you submit on your application and what you chose to work on the following September doesnít have to be identical, but there should be a good deal of thought behind what you are thinking of pursuing. <o>

</o>
Like all post-graduate programs, grades are important. Just because you meet the minimum does not necessarily mean you will be accepted. The minimum GPA requirement is as low as a B or as high as an A-, but this is all dependant on the school, the program, its size and its popularity. The academic expectations in fourth year are the most difficult. If you are not meeting this minimum as a third year it is not likely that you will have the required grades in your fourth year.<o>

</o>
Applications vary from school to school and program to program. As a bare minimum, you will fill out an online application that gives information about your previous academic history, provide a statement of your proposed area of study, submit your transcript(s), and get letters from two or three references. You may need to submit a resume, CV, samples of written work, allowable inclusions, or complete an audition among other things. Of course, application deadlines are not consistent across the board either. For the most part, applications are due between early January and early February, but it is possible that they may be due earlier than that; especially if you want to be hired as a TA or research assistant. <o>

</o>
Similarly, prices will vary too. I paid between $75 and $100 for each application. It is quite possible that for certain schools they could be more or less than these amounts; but I found that only two programs I applied to were less than $100. If you donít think you have what it takes to get in, you may want to play it safe and apply at a later time, as applications end up costing you quite a bit of money! <o>

</o>
As mentioned previously, you will need to have a letter of reference (or two or three) written by a professor. The best people to ask are those who know you as a student, as well as whose classes you did well in. Although you may have gotten an A in your Death and Dying class, if the prof has no idea who you are they canít write you a very accurate letter. Thatís not to say they wonít write you a letter, but they wonít be able to provide a lot of information about you, which is problematic. I was told that there are benefits to having tenured professors write your letters, as they are seen as authorities over sessional professors. You will also want to ask possible referees well in advance (approximately two months) of the application deadline if they will be a reference, in order to give them enough time to complete their letter for you. This means they will also finish your letters before the students who asked them last minute. <o>

</o>
Tuition for graduate programs does cost more than undergraduate programs, but thankfully not as much as some other post-graduate programs like medicine or law. If you are granted a TA-ship, most of your tuition fees will often be taken care of, which is certainly beneficial. However, you will still need to find other work during the summer months (the pay isnít that great), especially if you are keen on having the smallest amount of debt possible.<o>

</o>
Letters confirming your acceptance or rejection are supposed to arrive between mid-February and mid-March. This allows you enough time to defer your graduation for another semester, or year to take additional classes if things donít end up working out that well for you. <o>

</o>
If you donít get in, you can always re-apply for the following year once you have all of your final grades. Additionally, it may also be more financially feasible for you to apply after working off some of your debt. This also gives you more time to find out what youíre really interested in, and be positive that you want to spend another eight to sixteen months at school... <o></o>
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McMaster Combined Honours Cultural Studies & Critical Theory and Anthropology: 2008
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Last edited by lorend : 02-16-2009 at 09:49 AM.

sinthusized, Sorin all say thanks to lorend for this post.
Old 02-16-2009 at 10:22 PM   #2
EmilySusie
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Thank you for this article. It was very helpful, def answered a lot of my questions.

lorend says thanks to EmilySusie for this post.
Old 05-06-2009 at 12:19 PM   #3
lorend
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New perspective: http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2009/0...ve-of-failure/

It also covers some things that you should consider that weren't mentioned in the article.
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McMaster Combined Honours Cultural Studies & Critical Theory and Anthropology: 2008
McMaster Honours English with a minor in Indigenous Studies: 2010
Carleton University Masters of Arts in Canadian Studies: 2012 (expected)

We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed in universities, looking uncomfortably into the world we inherit. -- Port Huron Statement






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