When thinking about graduate school, you may be trying to convince yourself you need to have every question answered before you blink. And while you should have your ducks in a row before furthering your education, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. Skip scouring the Internet and let us help you explore the possibilities of graduate school. We are debunking the common myths about considering and applying to grad school, so you don’t have to.
MYTH: Freshmen and sophomores can’t explore graduate school options. It’s too early.
TRUTH: It’s never too early to start exploring grad school options. While plans may change by your junior or senior year, it never hurts to have a long-term career plan. Career plans give you a better understanding of what steps you need to take to achieve your goals and helps you visualize your future.
MYTH: It’s too late for a senior to think about graduate school in October.
TRUTH: It is not too late; you can still apply! This also depends on what entrance exams are required for your program, like the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, etc. and when you can schedule those. Ideally you don’t want to be rushed with your decision, but it can be done. A career planning appointment at the Career Connections Center can help you accurately plan out your preparation timeline so you aren’t left scrambling.
MYTH: I shouldn’t apply to grad school because there are no federal government grants for graduate students.
TRUTH: It’s true that there aren’t any federal grants for grad students, but you should still fill out a FAFSA, it could grant you eligibility to student loans. Graduate Assistantships often provide partial or full tuition reimbursement, and often include a stipend. Grants and fellowships are other ways to find funding for research positions. Private scholarships can also help reduce tuition costs.
MYTH: I need to have my thesis/dissertation topic figured out before graduate school.
TRUTH: You should take your first semester of grad school as an exploratory semester to figure out the topic of your research. This semester can be used to network, talk to academics in your field, and to do research. The time will fly quickly, so don’t wait too long to decide after your first semester.
The Career Connections Center will be hosting Graduate Education Week starting October 22. The series will begin with workshops that that will help you get started with graduate school preparation and culminate with the Beyond the Swamp Fair, an event where over 100 graduate schools from around the country will be present to network with UF students looking to explore grad school as an option after undergrad. Visit Career.ufl.edu/gradseries for more information.
*This article has been updated to reflect the 2018 Graduate Education Week start date.