Until Grad School …

You have finally walked across the stage, shaken hands with President Judy Genshaft, and received your diploma. Many graduates plan to continue their education in graduate or professional school. There are many reasons to consider furthering your education right away, but what if you’re not ready for that step yet? In today’s post, we’ll discuss possible options that you can consider until you’re ready for grad school.

Entry-Level Jobs
When you graduate with your undergraduate degree, you will likely pursue one of two paths: furthering your education or entering the workforce. While some students go straight to grad school and others may have plans of returning to school later, the vast majority of students choose to immediately begin working in entry-level positions.

Entering the world of work allows you to begin using your degree instantly. You’re able to gain experience and continue to build on the essential skills that you developed in college. You’re also able to start establishing yourself financially, and while this isn’t impossible to do in graduate school, it may be a little easier to do.

Entry-level jobs also help you understand the industry that you have decided to work within. You can learn from your supervisors and coworkers, ask questions about how upper management makes their decisions, and continue to build your professional network in ways that can help you advance your career. Learning the ins and outs of the company and industry that you work within can help you determine whether or not furthering your education may be the right choice for you and can help you select an appropriate program of study.

If you’re considering an entry-level position, check out our Spring 2018 Career & Internship Fair Week. Employers will continue to register up until the week before the first fair on January 31, 2018, so mark your calendars now!

Myth: Internships are only for current students. Fact: Many companies accept recent graduates into their internship programs on a track toward full-time employment.

If you focused on your studies during your undergraduate years, a post-graduate internship can help you get some work experience on your resume. This allows the company to test your essential skills, like professionalism, teamwork, and communication and gives you an opportunity to see if you like the position and company before you agree to a full-time role.

To find these opportunities, you can attend our Spring 2018 Career & Internship Fair Week, but you may want to check out our other employer events as well. On November 14, we have an Industry Networking Night event for the Financial Services Industry, which will allow you to meet with representatives from a few companies all in one place. You don’t have to be a business or finance major to attend, but you should have an interest in working within the Financial Services Industry.

You can check out all of our opportunities to meet with employers on campus in Handshake in the Events and Fairs sections of the site. You can also use Handshake to do research on your own to see which companies have internships available for seniors or recent graduates.

Trade Schools and Certifications
Graduate and professional schools are not the only places where you can pursue post-graduate education. Trade schools are institutions that are focused on teaching their students a particular skill or about a specific industry. These include art institutes, technical schools, and specialists schools.

You can also consider pursuing a certificate program. These are often offered at colleges and universities and are less intense than graduate programs. They may be less expensive, require fewer classes, and take less time to complete than a traditional Master’s degree. Certifications are offered for a variety of different subjects or technologies. If you’re planning to work in a technology-driven industry or role, you can get certifications for Adobe, Microsoft, and Google, to name a few.

For both trade schools and certifications, be sure to do your research about what is offered, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and whether or not it will benefit you in your industry. If you need help considering this option or beginning your search, schedule an appointment with your Career Consultant through Handshake.

Time Off
If you take time off between graduating with your undergraduate degree and pursuing graduate school or entering the workforce, you may get some questions about what you did with that time during the interview process for your future program or job. Rather than going back home and working in a part-time job (a trap that Don Asher says you may not escape from!), consider taking time to explore your interests. A common option is to travel domestically or internationally. Even though it’s something a lot of people do, you can use this time to help you narrow your interests and solidify your passion for the field that you enter when you return, so don’t be afraid to talk about your unique experience during interviews.

If you absolutely have to return home, but still plan on going to graduate school or entering the world of work later, make your time off count. You may need to have a part-time or even full-time job to help make ends meet and begin paying off student loans if you have them, but you should also consider getting involved in your community. Volunteering can be a great way to demonstrate to a future program administrator or interviewer that you have passion and drive. If you can find volunteer opportunities within an area that you plan to continue to study or work, this will give you some great hands-on experience that can make you stand out during the application process.


My Uncle For Whom Your Library is Named …

If you weren’t at Don Asher’s talk last night, you missed out on a lot of laughs, the hottest tips in grad school preparation, and the chance at some free money just for raising your hand! But don’t worry, we’ve brought some of his tips to Professional Edge so that you can successfully apply to and pay for your post-graduate studies.

Turn Your World Upside Down
If you’re graduating in December or May and hope to go to grad or professional school, Asher has a few reasons why you should stop doing whatever you’re doing and start applying right now.

Deadlines are approaching quickly, and you don’t want to turn in your application moments before it’s due. If you’re applying to programs in the humanities, you want to apply at least 7-10 days before the deadline, but if you’re applying to STEM programs, you need to turn your applications in even earlier. Many STEM programs begin admitting students as soon as they start receiving applications. Turning yours in 10-30 days before the deadline helps make sure your application is even considered.

Another reason Asher has for starting your applications immediately is that taking time-off is dangerous. You may be thinking about taking a gap year, but when you get home you get caught up in family drama, or you start making money at a full-time job, or suddenly you’re married with kids, and you never end up coming back to school. If you want another degree – get it now!

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you need another degree, consider this:
An individual with a Master’s degree will end up making over $400,000 more during their life than their peers with a Bachelor’s degree. Someone with a PhD will make over $1.4 million more. Those with a professional degree in medicine or law will make over $2 million more. That’s at least 400,000 really good reasons to continue your education!

What if you’re not sure about your career path after you get a graduate or professional degree? What if you’re not sure you’ve picked the right schools to apply to or the right program of study? Asher’s advice to those lacking confidence is “don’t try to get perfect – try to get going.”


Get Narrow
Do you want to be a doctor? Get a law degree? That’s great, but it’s not what admissions committees want to hear, and it’s not going to get you a strong letter of recommendation from your current professors.

Asher says that you need to “get narrow,” be particular, get specific. So, not a doctor, but a pediatric oncologist. Not just a lawyer, an immigration lawyer.

Narrowing your field of study can also help as you research programs, because, Asher says, you shouldn’t actually be researching programs. Instead, search nationwide for faculty who are already doing what you want to do and see how they talk about their work. Do a google search for your interests and limit the domains to .edu, then look for the faculty information pages and use them to start your research. The schools that they are at are the schools that you should be thinking about applying to – and they’re going to help you get in.

Reach out to the faculty that come up in your search and see if they’d be willing to discuss your shared interests with you in person, by Skype, or over the phone. Make these connections early on in your application process – and mention your relationship in your application essays – and then you’ll have an advocate on your side during the admissions process.


Customization Starts at the Top
Asher says that the best first line of a graduate admissions essay, and an almost complete guarantee for acceptance is “my uncle, for whom your library is named, …” But, you don’t have to have nepotism working for you to write stand-out essays. Instead, Asher says, “customize, customize, customize.”

First, it’s important to know what kind of essay you need to write. Personal Statements are normally for professional schools, while Statements of Purpose are for graduate programs. So, what’s the difference?

A Personal Statement, Asher says is a misnomer. These should be called Professional Statements. Professional schools aren’t interested in you as a person – they want to know who you are as a professional. You should limit your “I Statements” to a maximum of four sentences that begin with “I” and instead focus on your ideas. A really easy way to do this is to rework your sentence structure. Don’t write “I am interested in highly successful people.” Do write “Highly successful people are interesting.”

A Statement of Purpose, or Statement of (Research) Intent, should discuss your interests and abilities. What are your interests, what do you want to do in graduate school, and what do you want to do with your degree when it’s complete? Try to tie in your future career aspirations, scholarship, non-profit work you hope to do (or are already doing), and ways you can give back to the school as a future educator.

Asher has one area of caution for any admission essay: “don’t talk about your childhood.” While he says there can be some exceptions, admissions professionals are tired of hearing about the chemistry set that every future scientist received at the age of nine. It’s cliché, and of course it made you want to be a scientist. He also says that those applying to psychology programs should avoid mentioning the family member they know with a mental illness.

If programs have instructions for a word limit on essays, Asher says to write up to, but just under, the word limit. Writing over it shows arrogance, and writing too far under it looks like it’s been used for more than one program application. If you aren’t given a word limit, write 500-1000 words. Before you submit your essays, ask a faculty member review it for you.

One other thing you should think about including in your admissions essays is a note about your GPA if it’s low. This is where having connections to faculty teaching in the program you are applying to can help, as they can vouch for your desire to study the material. It also helps to have the faculty members that write your letters of recommendation attest to the work that you can do. But, you can take matters into your own hand. Look over your transcripts, and see if you can identify a pattern. Did you struggle in your math classes or have a semester that brought down your GPA? Try to isolate the problem, and use space on your admissions essays to explain it away. For example, “High school was too easy and didn’t adequately prepare me for the subjects I would face in college, but after my first semester, I was able to adjust to the level of attention my studies required and I received a 4.0 GPA in my second semester.”


Money, Money, Money
If you know how to do it, you can go to graduate school for free. Ask program administrators who they fund and how you can be that person. Find out if they offer assistantships and when and how you apply for those part-time jobs that often offer a full waiver and a stipend. Look for scholarships and grants. Asher’s book, Best Scholarships for the Best Students, has pages full of sites with multiple opportunities for you to explore. There are plenty of options out there. You just have to know where to look.

Put it into Practice
Tomorrow, October 26 is the Fall 2017 Graduate & Professional School Fair. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with admissions professionals, program administrators, and faculty from graduate and professional schools all around the country. Whether you’re planning to apply this year or three years from now, making those connections tomorrow can help you get started today!

If you’d like to take a look at the handouts from the event last night, they can be found in the attachments section of the Handshake event page at AsherTalk17.usfcs.info.

Shaping Your Future

Did you miss us at our Graduate Pathways Month workshop yesterday? Don’t worry! Today’s post will catch you up on what you need to know as you consider applying to different graduate or professional school programs. You can also view a recording of the workshop through Canvas to get credit for attending so that you can be one step closer toward the $50 Test Prep Package offer! For details about how to get access to that, visit gradpath.usfcs.info.

Speaking of test prep, you’ve probably heard of the GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT. Many graduate and professional school programs require these standardized tests as part of the application process, but they aren’t the only things you should be preparing for if you’re considering furthering your education!


Your Early Years Matter

Your undergraduate degree isn’t like your high school degree; graduate admissions committees look at more than just your senior year as part of their admissions process. You will most likely have to submit your transcripts as part of the application process, so all of your course information – including what you took and how well you did in the classes – will be visible to the admissions committee.


Be Prepared for Admissions Requirements

Each graduate or professional school program has its own set of admission requirements, so you will want to know what these requirements are early on. This means you’ll need to research programs of interest by visiting the programs’ websites and contacting admissions professionals and program coordinators.

Most programs require similar, basic components in their application process. These components include official transcripts from any college or university you attended, a resume or CV, a cover letter or personal statement, and an application fee.

Official transcripts can be obtained through the USF Registrar’s Office. You are required to pay for each transcript that you submit. You should plan to request transcripts well in advance of the application deadline so that they have time to reach their destination. If you took classes at another university, you should contact them to find out how you can obtain official transcripts.

Application fees vary by program and school. If you are considering attending grad school at USF, each graduate program requires a $30 application fee.

For assistance with your resume, CV, cover letter, or personal statement, we encourage you to reach out to our office. We also encourage you to contact the Writing Studio at the USF Tampa Libraries for assistance with your personal statement or other admissions essays.


Take Tests Early

Most programs also require a standardized test as part of their admissions process. You should research the type of test you will need to take for your program early so that you have time to prepare for the exam, take it, and retake it if necessary.

In order to help you prepare, we’ve gathered some of the details about the most common exams:

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – consists of three sections (verbal reasoning, analytical writing, and quantitative reasoning) and takes three hours and forty-five minutes. If you are pursuing a business or doctoral degree, your program will probably require this exam.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT) – consists of five 35-minute sections regarding reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. This exam is required if you are anticipating to go to law school.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) – consists of four sections (analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal). This test takes three and a half hours and is necessary to attend a graduate business school program.

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) – consists of four sections and requires a significant amount of scientific knowledge. You should expect to take this exam if you want to go to medical school. The exam lasts seven hours and scores are only valid for three years.


Preparing for these for exams will take hours of dedication. If you are one of the first 100 people to attend four out of five of our Graduate Pathways events, you will be eligible for a discount test prep package for either the GRE or GMAT exams. Thanks to our partnership with USF Continuing Education, you can get this test prep package – normally an $800 value – for only $50.


Graduate Pathways Events

Choosing the Right Graduate School

Wednesday, October 11 / 2p.m. – 3p.m. / MSC 4200


Paying for Graduate School

Tuesday, October 17 / 1p.m. – 2p.m. / MSC 4200


An Evening with Don Asher

Tuesday, October 24 / 6:00p.m.- 7:30p.m. / MSC 2709


Graduate & Professional School Fair

Thursday, October 26 / 11a.m. – 2p.m. / MSC Ballroom


Did you miss us yesterday, or know you can’t attend a future event? Visit our website to find out how you can still get your attendance counted by viewing our workshops online.

Your Graduate Pathway

Happy October, USF!

When you think about October, you probably think about apple cider, pumpkin spice, haunted houses, and dressing up. In Career Services, we add one more October theme to that list: Graduate Pathways!

For the last several years, we’ve been using the month of October to introduce USF students to Graduate and Professional School. Many advanced degree programs have application deadlines that fall sometime between October and December, and so we host workshops throughout the month to help you decide if Grad School is right for you, how to choose a program, and how to finance that journey.

Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about what Grad School is, and why you may want to consider a program.


So, What is Grad School?

Right now, you’re probably pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree. Let’s get something straight. That degree is valuable, and it demonstrates to employers that you have the knowledge to excel in the world of work. Your undergraduate program prepares you to work in a wide variety of industries – even if you major in something specific, like engineering.

A Graduate or Professional School program is an advanced program of study. It is focused on a specific academic area or a specific profession. For example, if you wanted to be a doctor, you would need to go to medical school where you would choose an area to specialize in, and then learn information specific to that area of the healthcare industry.

Grad School typically requires original research or scholarship. This means that you may have to produce a written thesis paper or present your research to a group. It’s important to know what potential programs of interest require before applying to those programs.


Do I Need Grad School?

Some career pathways require an advanced degree that shows that you have intense commitment, passion, and drive for the work that you do. If you’re not sure if you will need to pursue an advanced degree, there are a few ways you can find out.

Our office is always here to help you. Our Career Consultants are familiar with the variety of career pathways that you may take and they have tools to help you determine how far you should go with your education to be successful in your field. If you’re interested in sitting down to discuss your pathway one-on-one, contact our office and we’ll set you up with an appointment. You can also check out the information that we have online.

Attend our Graduate Pathways month events! This year, we’re starting things off at our Graduate Pathways Month Kickoff Celebration on Wednesday, October 4. Join us from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Marshall Student Center to learn how the month of October can benefit you! We’ll also be sharing the details about how you can score a $50 GRE Test Prep Package! Can’t make the Kickoff? Details about our other Graduate Pathways events are in Handshake.

If you prefer to do some research on your own first, check out the site OnetOnline.org (link to onetonline.org). Using the Occupation Quick Search bar in the top right corner, you can look for details about jobs or career paths that you are interested in. Navigate to the Education section and you’ll find information about what percentage of people working in that field have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, post-doctoral degree, or another degree type. That should give you an idea of what kind of education you should be considering for your career field.


What’s Next?

If you have any interest in going to Grad School, keep up with Professional Edge this month! We’ll continue to post information you should know as you consider your Graduate Pathways.

See you at our Graduate Pathways Month Kickoff Celebration!


Other Graduate Pathways Month Events

Shaping Your Future at Graduate School

Choosing the Right Graduate School

Paying for Graduate School

An Evening with Don Asher

Graduate & Professional School Fair