College and graduate school are two very different environments with their own unique sets of challenges and cultures. While college prepares you with the fundamental knowledge you will need for the job market, graduate school will equip you with the advanced specialized skills you need to enter the job market. If you’re thinking about applying to graduate school in the next year or two, here are four major topics to consider:

Be a self-starter
Throughout college, professors, academic counselors, and even your parents have been there to remind you, motivate you, and push you to be your best. Graduate school is a new ball game. You’re challenged to be even more independent and become a self-learner. There is no single right way to get to the finish line and sometimes the hardest part is not figuring out what needs to be accomplished, but figuring out how to do it on your own. At AcceptU, our counselors are experts in helping students cultivate their independence. Students are given the space to figure things out on their own, while having the professional guidance of a former Ivy League admissions officer to navigate them through the tough parts of the graduate application process, like essays and recommendation letters.

Get used to teamwork
One of the benefits of working with an AcceptU counselor throughout your application process is that it allows you to practice skills such as communication and writing; two things you will do a lot of in graduate school. Graduate school is all about collaboration, being part of a team, and listening to the ideas of others to create a unified message that represents you and your fellow classmates. Your graduate school application is a reflection of you, but it is also a collaborative effort between you and your counselor.

Pick an academic path you’re passionate about
While picking an undergraduate major is no easy feat, graduate school major selection poses its own unique challenges. Majors are very specialized and most grad programs expect students to know what their career goals are. This is especially true of programs that are shorter (e.g., 9-15 months). For 2-year programs, there can be more wiggle room to move to another area of study. This is why the statement of purpose is so important–you need to know what you’re getting into when you apply to grad school. This demonstrates exactly why it is critical to start working with an AcceptU counselor early on. When you begin to work with a counselor in your sophomore or junior year, our counselors are able to help you assess the fit of your major and help with class selection so you can pick an area of graduate study accordingly.

Understand what you’re trying to accomplish
What happens next? After college, you can choose to look for a job right away, take a gap year, or go to graduate school. But after graduate school, what is your plan? Typically, students will encounter new professional opportunities after graduate school, so it’s important to focus on the future and have a goal in mind. AcceptU’s counselors know how to help an applicant define those goals and shape them into a stellar application.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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