To listen to the blog post “8 Hidden Truths When Applying For Grad School” over reading it just click the play button below.
Applying for grad school or want to know how to apply for grad school? Congrats and good for you. BUT do not go stabbing in the wind just applying for any grad school program only to get your feelings hurt when it is not what you expect after you get your degree. If you are wondering how this is even possible, I will explain.
As someone who has a Master’s, a Ph.D., and my degrees served me well, meaning I was able to get a job and more money with them. I can tell you that I also know that some people spend money on a grad school degree only to be disappointed that it did not turn out as expected.
For example, going to a grad school that does not have the right accreditation for your niche and you are not able to get a job or use your degree anywhere. Not only is that a waste of time and money, but there is no point in getting a graduate degree if it cannot benefit you. Sad to say the WRONG way of applying for grad school happens to a lot of people. And then they are stuck wondering why their graduate degree did not help their career.
The right way to applying for grad school would be after you graduate you get a better and/or a higher paying job. You feel confident in the field that you are going in and you have a respected degree. I cannot tell you how many people applied for a grad degree in the wrong way and are no better off than when they did not have one.
But since I am so dedicated to helping all of you I am going to help with tips in applying for grad school in the best way possible.
1. How To Apply For Grad School Remember To Look for an Accreditation
The most important tip you want to follow in how to apply for grad school is accreditation. There are a lot of shady schools out there that are not accredited. And no they are not just going up and tell you this. An accreditation goes beyond just a national accreditation. If you want to be a lawyer, doctor, social worker, psychologist, counselor, etc you must go to a graduate school that is accredited by a specific board.
Because after you graduate you have to apply to that board and they are going to look at your school to see if it is accredited. If it is not, then you have wasted money. And if you attend one then your degree is going to be worthless. Most good jobs that you get require that you graduate from an accredited school.
Depending on what you want to do will depend on the type of accreditation that you need to seek. But at the very least the grad school should have some type of recognized national education certification. And you will need to research if it has the certification you need in order to get licensed or certified after you graduate.
2. How To Apply For Grad School Case In Point ~ Me
The school I got my Master’s and my Ph.D. from was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. This accreditation assures the school meets standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. That is a national school type accreditation.
But oftentimes if you specialize in a certain area you may need additional accreditation. For example, as a mental health professional, I needed to look at MORE field focused accreditation. This type of accreditation helps you get licensed in your state after graduation so that you can practice as a therapist or counselor independently OR even get additional certifications as a counselor.
My master’s program was CACREP (The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) accredited. It sounds fancy, doesn’t it? CACREP accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling in the United States and throughout the world. And it comes with a lot of perks. Mainly the ability to counsel independently. There are some people who get counseling programs that do not have this certification that are not able to get licensed after they graduate and thus, 2- 3 of graduate school wasted. Also if you are interested don’t forget to check out my single mom story where I talk about the struggles I went through while in grad school. And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel here.
If you look at my credentials you notice that I am a National Certified Counselor. The best way to qualify for this certification is that you have to be a graduate from a CACREP accredited school. Look at the picture below. I do not want to go on and on about this but to make a point. You may not want to be a counselor, you could want to be a nurse or some other professional. Make sure before you do, that the graduate program you apply for has accreditation for that field by visiting the board’s site to check. Just like the example below of the National Board of Certified Counselors.
As another fun fact, I wanted to become a lawyer at one point. The one law school I applied too had recently lost their accreditation but they were still accepting students. Understand that going there would have been a dangerous waste of time. Just because they accept you and let you go there means it does not mean that you will become a lawyer once you graduate if they are not accredited. Because you will still have to take the BAR (the board that licenses lawyers) and they may not accept the degree from your school.
3. Applying to Grad School Tip ~ Apply for a Field You Already Work In
Experience and education can go hand and hand when it comes to getting a good job. Many people who have a bachelor’s degree do not work in the field that they have their degree, but when it comes to grad degrees it is a little different. Because they are more advanced, more specialized degrees, and the assumption is that you are getting it to move further in a field you already work in.
Now unless you are applying to be a medical doctor or a lawyer (where that degree can get you a job no matter what) then that is a little different. But most grad degrees you want to get because you have experience.
For example, if you have been working as a social worker all your life and go back to get an MBA to work on Wall Street, you will have a harder time breaking in. Because other people you are going against for a job not only have an MBA on their resume but they probably have business experience whereas you only have social worker experience. So perhaps you would consider getting a graduate degree in social work instead.
I had an undergrad degree in criminal justice, started off in that field before moving in the mental health field and then got a graduate degree in mental health. But notice I already had the experience. Thus making it easier to get a better job in the mental health field once I got my MS degree.
That is not to say you can NEVER switch careers, but that is the typical rule of thumb. If you want to get a graduate degree in a field you have no experience. I would suggest trying to switch careers now, getting into business, or at least some volunteer or some type of experience, telling them that you are looking to get your MBA in the near future. That way you can go ahead and apply for graduate school in whatever field you want to apply in (even if it is different from the majority of your work experience).
In the meantime, you will be gaining work experience while getting your graduate degree and when you graduate with your degree you will have a significantly better chance of getting a career in what you are getting your graduate degree in. Which you can watch my video down below where I teach you how to do a better job search to get a better career.
The easiest way overall, of course, would be to just get a graduate degree in the area in which you have the most experience. If you have a BSN in nursing, it is a lot easier to become a nurse practitioner. If you have been working as an administrative assistant for a marketing firm then go ahead and get that MBA, you have enough experience to justify getting you a better job in that field once you graduate.
4. How To Apply For Grade School ~ Look At The Time and Quality
The point of a grad degree is to not just get one BUT to also know what you are doing and what you are talking about after you get one. People who go for short and/or nonquality programs may like the program because they can finish fast BUT after you graduate, when you are sitting in an interview, for a job that requires a grad degree then you need to know what you are talking about and not just have the piece of paper. There are a lot of BS online programs that promise fast degrees that are not legit and teach you nothing.
For grad school look at the program, the classes, and the time it takes to complete the program and determine if by those things you feel that you can get what you need from it. Do not just go for the super easy quick and fast program just to say that you finished. With a grad degree people are going to count you as an expert and if you are not, well then you just wasting your money getting a degree that did not really teach you anything much and you will have a hard time performing on the job.
5. How To Apply For Grad School ~ Case in point
Once again going back to my certification in counseling because that is what I know best. In order to become licensed to practice counseling in the state, you need to have at least gone to a graduate program that took 2 years AND have taken certain classes, the same for the certification that I hold. So, if I had got into a counseling program that took one year that did not have all the classes then I would not be eligible for licensure in my state or this certification. Which is why it is important to know this BEFORE hand in whatever field you choose to go in.
6. Applying for Grad School Tip ~ Do market research
Getting a very niche grad degree like studies of women that are under 5 foot 2 and the psychological issues they face may sound like a good idea, but it is not. For example, an MS in fashion design may not do so well in the middle of nowhere but it could do great in places like New York or California.
Getting a degree in something weird and random only sounds good until you go apply for jobs and your grad degree can’t get you anywhere because of its so random or super niche. Getting something because it sounds cool without actually looking at the job outlook in the place where you live or plan to move is not a good idea. You can click my blog here for how to search for a job.
For example, if you want to get a MS in fashion design and you live in Tim buck too nowhere. You would do a job search for those jobs in your area. If there is NOT one, then getting an MS in fashion may not be the best idea because where would you work? Unless you would be willing to move.
On the flip side getting a degree in military studies is only a good idea if you can find a job related to that degree, and because it is so niched those jobs are not everywhere. And it would also only be useful only if you have served in the military. I also feel that way in degree such as homeland security. Which is a federal department that may not be around forever? If you want to work in that field, get a degree in something similar but not so niched so that you can explore other options if need be.
7. How To Apply For Grad School ~ Case and Point
I live in the DC area. In most other place having a political science degree may not get you that far. But here having one will get you VERY far because of the political scene. So oftentimes a degree can be more or less useful depending on where you live. And that is why you need to figure that out before going to grad school as opposed to being disappointed after graduating and not being able to find a job. Know if you are willing to move, how much that degree makes. Sad to say that many social workers or helping professions degrees are very popular BUT the salary tends to not be that high. It is best for you to know all of that beforehand instead of being disappointed afterward when you see what the salary potential is.
8. Applying For Grad School ~ Where Do You See Yourself
The last tip is that you need to be honest about where you see yourself and your career. I have seen people become counselors just because it seemed like a good job option. BUT they have no business being a counselor. They were not people-oriented and they did not like to help people. Which is what counseling is.
So then they end up miserable because they do not want to do it anymore. They only went to grad school to become a counselor because it seemed like a good job outlook that could make them money, but they did not determine if it fits with their personality or what they wanted to do long term. I have an entire blog on picking a job based on your personality type which may be worth wide to read here.
Because the downside to getting into a profession based on vanity (as in you want to be a doctor just to be called a doctor but you don’t like the sight of blood) is that you will get in a career you don’t like because you never thought it through. And now you are stuck. Do not go after a certain grad degree because it sounds cool to be an XYZ, do it because you see yourself being in that profession. Because you enjoy it and you see that degree helping you now and in the future.
Whew, I know that was a lot. I hope all of these tips helped you consider some real things when applying for grad school. They are the hidden truths that grad students will not tell you. But they are real things that you need to consider. And if you know someone who may need to read this post then share it with them.