Thinking about graduate or professional school? The Center for Career & Professional Development can help. Whether it be researching options, creating a timeline, assisting with application requirements, or preparing for an interview, your career coach is dedicated to your future success.
Is Graduate School Right For Me?
When thinking about graduate school, ask yourself:
● What are both my short and long-term goals?
● Are my goals personally realistic?
● Is an advanced degree required in order to obtain my career goals?
● Do I really love the field enough to narrow my studies and obtain an advanced degree?
● Do I have the necessary academic abilities to be successful in graduate school?
● Am I choosing graduate school for the right reasons?
● Am I willing to invest the time, effort and expense to complete an advanced degree?
Potential Reasons to Pursue Graduate School
Your reason for pursuing graduate school may vary
● Clear intent of what career you want to pursue and an advanced degree is required for entrance
● Desire to immerse yourself in the study of a specific academic discipline
● Desire to practice in a specialized career
● Desire for a complete career change
● Desire for career/salary advancement that requires a graduate degree
● Desire to switch from practitioner to administrator
● Need for professional licensing in your career
Identify Your Non-Negotiables
Everyone has different needs versus wants when exploring and deciding on a graduate program. Ask yourself, which factors are you not willing to negotiate and rank them in order of importance:
● Class size
● Exam requirements
● Research opportunities
● Cost of living
● Diverse student body
● Support services
● Professional/experiential learning opportunities
● Campus/community involvement opportunities
● Success of alumni/placement opportunities
● Size of academic department
● Selectivity of admissions
● Faculty backgrounds
● Online versus on-campus classes
● Day versus evening classes
Questions to Consider When Writing Your Personal Statement
Developing and delivering a thoughtful and compelling personal statement can overwhelm prospective students as they prepare to apply for graduate and professional school. The Center for Career & Professional Development suggests creating an outline of free-flowing ideas to help you identify key factors on what makes you a unique and suitable applicant while ensuring that you answer the provided prompt. Below is a list of brainstorm questions to consider (suitable questions will vary)
1. Why are you pursuing this career path? How do you feel it will give you purpose?
2. When did you first discover your interest in this career? How has it evolved over time?
3. Which steps have you taken thus far to prepare you for this future career?
4. Based on your industry-knowledge, what do you hope to improve, change, or learn more about as it pertains to this profession?
5. What are your more specific goals? (Is there a specific population or cause that you wish to serve?) (Have you envisioned a certain career trajectory including short/long term goals?)
6. How does this career match your personality, passions, values, or strengths?
7. Have you pursued a mentor?
1. List specific examples of past experiences that have best prepared you for this graduate program.
2. Discuss relevant internships/volunteer work and the skills/new perspectives you have gained from these experiences that will help you succeed in this graduate program?
3. Discuss your university and community involvement, focus ONLY on leadership roles or participation in programs that are relevant to the graduate program (allow the resume to list the rest).
4. What were the most pivotal moments at SHU where you felt that you were developing yourself either personally or professionally?
1. Do you have hobbies or personal interests that align with your professional interests?
2. What would your former boss, faculty, or peers say about your character? What would they identify as your strengths (in other words, what would they say after you left the room)?
ACADEMICS1. Which courses at SHU best prepared you for this graduate program? Were you an active contributor in class?
2. Why did you select SHU for your undergraduate studies?
3. While attaining your degree/s, what are the specific skills you have acquired?
4. Have you collaborated with faculty in any capacity (e.g. research, service work, department volunteer, mentorship)?
GRADUATE/PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL SPECIFICS1. Based on the curriculum and requirements, explain why you are prepared to succeed in this program.
2. What do you find most compelling about the curriculum?
3. Which faculty member are you most eager to learn from/collaborate with? Why?
4. What excites you most about the specifics of this program?
5. What are the most unique characteristics about this program and why are they valuable to your success?
6. Can you find any information on recent/upcoming changes or anything they plan to implement that is new? If so, why is this important to you?
7. Can you find any information on notable alumni that you aspire to connect with?
8. If accepted, how would you successfully contribute to this program?
Curriculum Vitae Fast Facts
Latin for course of life, it is a detailed overview of your educational, life, and professional accomplishments and qualifications. Unlike a resume, a curriculum vitae is meant to be comprehensive and can vary in length from two to several pages. While a resume prioritizes professional experiences, a CV will focus on showcasing your devotion to academic pursuits. The purpose is to prove why you are a great fit for the opportunity you are pursuing! (To access our full CV guide with additional resources/samples, please visit our Resource page).
WHAT IS INCLUDED?
● Contact information
● Detailed overview of education
● Academic achievements; such as honors, awards, grants
● Academic or independent research and techniques used
● Relevant professional and teaching experiences
● Personal accomplishments
● Professional development initiatives/credentials (e.g. certifications, licensures, training, workshops, conference attendance)
● Professional memberships and affiliations
● Leadership roles
● Community contributions/volunteer work
WHEN IS IT USUALLY REQUESTED?
● Often used for academic purposes, it can be requested when applying to graduate/professional school, scholarship applications, grant/fellowship proposals, academic positions, and non-academic positions in clinical/scientific/research/higher education and healthcare.● In other countries, a CV is equivalent the American resume and therefore, some international employers will request a CV for job applications.
● Consult with faculty within your field of interest to determine the most appropriate content for your CV.
● Present only relevant information; although it is meant to be comprehensive, you do not want to overwhelm the reader with unnecessary details.
● There is not ONE standard format to a CV and therefore the order is flexible. Emphasize what is most important to the reader and stay consistent throughout the document with alignment, structure, and tense.
● You may gap your sentences to make them more concise, rather than writing in complete sentences.
● You may elaborate on accomplishments and skills.
● Think about who your audience is, i.e., an academic versus nonacademic professional. Avoid highly technical terms if your audience is unlikely to understand.
● Use strong action verbs and vocabulary to prove your writing skills and ability to articulate.