Going to graduate school


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  • Going to graduate school

    1. 1. Thinking About Going to Graduate School? Things you ought to know, but might not have thought to ask Xiao Qin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering Auburn University, AL, USA 3101 Shelby Engineering Technology Center Auburn University, AL 36849-5347 http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~xqin (334) 844-6327 [email_address] Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press)
    2. 2. Where is Auburn University? Ph.D.’04, U. of Nebraska-Lincoln 04-07, New Mexico Tech 07-09, Auburn University
    3. 3. Thinking About Going To Graduate School? <ul><li>Is Graduate School right for you? </li></ul><ul><li>Choosing a program. </li></ul><ul><li>Applying and getting in. </li></ul><ul><li>Resources. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Is Grad School Right For You? <ul><li>Should I or shouldn’t I? </li></ul><ul><li>Questions You Need To Answer. </li></ul><ul><li>The Economic Factor. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Should I Go? <ul><li>Reasons to Go: </li></ul><ul><li>You have a passionate interest in a topic or an unusual combination of topics. </li></ul><ul><li>You enjoy research and/or creative activity. </li></ul><ul><li>You seek a richer and more satisfying life. </li></ul><ul><li>You have an interest that requires a graduate degree. </li></ul><ul><li>You want to ensure continued career advancement. </li></ul><ul><li>You want to earn more money. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons NOT to Go: </li></ul><ul><li>You’re going to grad school to please someone else. </li></ul><ul><li>You’re clueless about what you want to study or what you want to do once you’ve earned an advanced degree. </li></ul><ul><li>You’re secretly trying to avoid finding a “real job”. </li></ul><ul><li>You only want to earn more money. </li></ul>Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press)
    6. 6. Average Annual Earnings by Workers 25-64 year olds by Educational Attainment 1997-1999 Cited in CGS Communicator based on US Census Bureau Data 1998-2000
    7. 7. Preparation- Getting Started <ul><li>1. Decide what discipline and sub-area(s) interest you. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss career options/interests with advisors and professors. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Go online- research career opportunities and job market forecasts (e.g, Occupational Outlook Handbk) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decide the type of degree you’ll need- master’s or doctoral </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. CHOOSING A PROGRAM The People <ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>Does the expertise of the faculty provide a well-balanced representation of relevant sub disciplines ? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the faculty have professional experience outside the academic community? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the faculty well-known? What have they published recently? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the faculty/student ratio, and are the faculty accessible to the students? </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to advisors, use web and suggested resources on handout research faculty (look up publications, vitae. etc.) </li></ul>
    9. 9. CHOOSING A PROGRAM The Program <ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the required and elective courses. Will they suit your educational and professional goals? </li></ul><ul><li>Is a thesis or final exam required? Is there some sort of practical experience or internship included? </li></ul><ul><li>How long is the program, and how many credits are required? The same program can vary in credit hours from one school to another </li></ul><ul><li>What is the reputation of the school in general and what is the reputation of the program within the field? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the program accredited and if so, by whom? </li></ul><ul><li>What kinds of jobs do graduates obtain? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at information provided by programs, discuss with advisors, talk with graduate students in the program. </li></ul>
    10. 10. CHOOSING A PROGRAM The Place <ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want to attend a large or small school? Do you prefer a large or small program? </li></ul><ul><li>In what geographic area would you like to attend school? Would you like the school to be located in an urban or rural setting? </li></ul><ul><li>What activities does the community offer? </li></ul><ul><li>Is graduate housing available? How difficult is it to find off-campus housing? What public transportation is available? </li></ul>
    11. 11. CHOOSING A PROGRAM The Price <ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the cost of the program? What are the hidden costs? </li></ul><ul><li>How much financial assistance is available in the form of assistantships, loans, and fellowships? </li></ul>
    12. 12. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li>Absolute, surefire rules for getting admitted into the program of your choice. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li> Reality check… </li></ul><ul><li>There are no absolute, surefire rules that will assure your admittance to your program of choice– but you can increase your odds of success if you are aware of a few things that are almost always weighed in making admission decisions </li></ul>
    14. 14. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li>What factors are almost always considered in admission? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your GPA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GRE/TOEFL Scores </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendations. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal statement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research, relevant professional experience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding, fit, available space. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li>What is a good GPA? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is no GPA so good that it will assure you of admittance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GPA requirements vary. Overall GPA, GPA in your last 60 hours, GPA in courses in your major and courses in supporting areas may be considered separately. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A very rough idea of minimum GPA’s that will keep your application in the pool: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very competitive programs about 3.5 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive programs at least 3.0 </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><ul><li>What is a good GRE or GMAT score? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are no test scores so good as to assure you admittance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum score requirements vary greatly- </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sciences and Engineering tend to emphasize math </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal Arts emphasize language skills </li></ul><ul><li>Business- composite scores considered involving </li></ul><ul><li>scores from math, verbal, written sections of the </li></ul><ul><li>GMAT </li></ul>
    17. 17. Preparing your GPA and getting ready for the GRE and GMAT <ul><li>GPA: </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure your GPA reflects grades courses that are relevant to your intended career. </li></ul><ul><li>Do as well as you can in courses in your major and in courses that programs indicate they want you to have in your background. </li></ul><ul><li>If necessary, be prepared to discuss your weaknesses in GPA in your personal statement. Emphasize improvement and other evidence of your depth of learning, but do not grovel or dismiss. </li></ul><ul><li>GRE/GMAT or any other standardized admission test </li></ul><ul><li>DO NOT TAKE THESE TESTS COLD!!! ALLOW AMPLE TIME FOR REVIEW . </li></ul><ul><li>GRE/GMAT emphasize basic skills that you are most likely to have acquired in high school and your first two years in college. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Letters of Recommendation <ul><li>You will have to ask people to write you letters of recommendation. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for letters from people with whom you’ve had more than casual contact. </li></ul><ul><li>Good sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Research and project faculty advisors. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty members that you asked for advice on graduate school. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Poor sources: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Graduate students, friends, relatives, employer (usually), and others who have no direct experience in graduate education. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li>Letters of Recommendation </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll need at least 3 letters at least one should be “strong” if you seek admission to competitive programs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Characteristics of strong (influential) recommendations: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author knows you and your work well. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author likes and respects you. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author has relevant academic or professional credentials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author is known in the discipline that you seek to enter. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author knows people in the program/university you seek to enter. </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Letters of Recommendation (What to take to your meeting with the professor) <ul><li>Your transcript. </li></ul><ul><li>A paper or lab project showing your best work. </li></ul><ul><li>A resume – should include activities and leadership positions. </li></ul><ul><li>Copies of correspondence with targeted graduate programs. </li></ul><ul><li>Copy of latest draft of statement of purpose </li></ul><ul><li>List of other professors who will serve as a reference. </li></ul><ul><li>All stamps, envelopes and forms your professor might need, all filled out and ready to go. </li></ul>Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press)
    21. 21. Letters of Recommendation (Follow-up) <ul><li>Check-in with your professor regularly to see if the letter is done. Be nice about it, but don’t let it fall off the radar screen. </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure to thank each letter writer after the letter has been submitted on your behalf. </li></ul><ul><li>Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press) </li></ul>
    22. 22. Applying to Graduate School- Rolling the Dice <ul><li>The Personal Statement : Wide variation in how programs weigh your personal statement. Play it safe and write a good one. </li></ul><ul><li>Tailor your statement to the program you are applying to: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Why are you applying to it? </li></ul><ul><li>2. What are your short and longer-term </li></ul><ul><li>professional goals? </li></ul><ul><li>3. What attracts you to the program? </li></ul><ul><li>4. What will you be able to offer the program? </li></ul><ul><li>5. Mention specific faculty of interest to you. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Writing Your Personal Statement <ul><li>Some Do’s </li></ul><ul><li>Write clearly, concisely. </li></ul><ul><li>Make the essay about 2-3 pages long. </li></ul><ul><li>Use concrete examples. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the vocabulary of your intended discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask someone to critique your statement of purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>Proofread the statement by reading it aloud or having someone read it to you. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you have time for multiple revisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Some Don’ts </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t write an autobiography. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t try to impress your reader with your vocabulary. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t provide a collection of generic statements and platitudes. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make up things! </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make lame excuses for weak GPA or test scores. </li></ul>Adapted from www.accepted.com
    24. 24. Applying to Graduate School Timetable <ul><li>Spring Junior Year </li></ul><ul><li>Assess your interests, area of study, degree. </li></ul><ul><li>Start taking to Faculty about your career plans and possible programs and sources of funding. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you get involved in research, independent study in relevant areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Summer before Senior Yr </li></ul><ul><li>Use internet and printed resources to develop rough list of programs and possible funding sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Start writing your personal statement. </li></ul><ul><li>Begin studying for GRE, GMAT, etc. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Applying to Graduate School Timetable <ul><li>Fall Senior year </li></ul><ul><li>Use internet, write programs for admission information and degree requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>Consult with faculty and develop final list of programs you’ll apply to. </li></ul><ul><li>Continue test prep. </li></ul><ul><li>Take tests before end of October. </li></ul><ul><li>Contact possible reference writers before end of November. </li></ul><ul><li>Late Fall and early Spring </li></ul><ul><li>Complete and send applications well before deadlines. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider visiting program. </li></ul><ul><li>Cross your fingers. </li></ul>
    26. 26. Applying <ul><li>Why you need to apply early? </li></ul><ul><li>Your application “package”. </li></ul>
    27. 27. Why Apply Early (stuff happens) <ul><li>A student was not considered for admission because her application package was incomplete. A 50 cent library fine resulted in a “hold” on her transcripts and her undergraduate institution never sent them. </li></ul><ul><li>A student applying for a Ph.D. in philosophy received a letter from a major university rejecting his application for a Ph.D. in Germanic languages. </li></ul><ul><li>A student was rejected by an internationally acclaimed architecture program after his portfolio was reviewed by Prof. X. When he called to inquire about the status of his application, Prof. Y picked up his portfolio, glanced through it while the student was on hold, and reversed the decision of Prof X. Thus was he admitted. </li></ul><ul><li>One professor forgot to mail a wonderful letter of recommendation he had written for his favorite advisee, and she was rejected. </li></ul>Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press)
    28. 28. Requesting Application Materials <ul><li>Approximately 1 year before you plan to start your program, request application materials from each program of interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared for application fees! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application fees generally run $40-150. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t make your decision based on the fee. Some schools will waive the fee based on a letter from your undergraduate financial aid officer. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set up an Activity Log and Timeline Sheet. </li></ul>Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press)
    29. 29. Activity Log and Timeline
    30. 30. Application Materials <ul><li>Your application “package” will include: </li></ul><ul><li>The Application – fill out correctly and completely. </li></ul><ul><li>Official Transcripts – You need an official transcript from each college/university attended. Allow 2 to 3 months for your request to be processed! </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendation letters </li></ul><ul><li>Personal statement </li></ul><ul><li>Standardized Test Scores –You will have to arrange to have scores sent to your intended programs. </li></ul>
    31. 31. Opportunities at Auburn http://www.grad.auburn.edu/
    32. 32. RESOURCES <ul><li>Finding programs </li></ul><ul><li>http:// www.gradschools.com </li></ul><ul><li>http:// gradsource.com </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate & Professional Programs - An Overview - by Robert E. Clark and John Palattela </li></ul><ul><li>How to Get Into The Right Medical School by Carla S. Rogers </li></ul><ul><li>How to Get Into The Right Law School by Paul Lermack </li></ul><ul><li>The Official Guide to U.S. Law - Law School Admission & School Council and Services </li></ul><ul><li>The Official Guide to Financing Your MBA - Graduate Management Admission Council </li></ul><ul><li>The Official Guide to MBA Programs - Graduate Management Admission Council </li></ul><ul><li>The Directory of MBAs Edition XII - Second Edition </li></ul>
    33. 33. RESOURCES <ul><li>Rankings : </li></ul><ul><li>GRADSCHOOLS.com </li></ul><ul><li>Peterson’s Guides to Graduate Programs www.petersons.com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Graduate Programs in Biological Sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business, Education, Health, Law, Social Work & Information Studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineering & Applied Sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical Sciences, Mathematics & Agricultural Sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>www.usnews.com </li></ul><ul><li>Directory of Graduate Programs- Educational Testing Service. </li></ul><ul><li>The GOURMAN Report-Graduate Programs - Princeton Review. career.csusb.edu/Book%20List.doc </li></ul>
    34. 34. RESOURCES <ul><li>Graduate Admissions Exams: </li></ul><ul><li>GRE: www.gre.org </li></ul><ul><li>LSAT: www.lsat.org or </li></ul><ul><li>GMAT: www.mba.com </li></ul><ul><li>MCAT: www.aamc.org </li></ul><ul><li>DAT: http:// www.ada.org/index.asp (dentistry) </li></ul><ul><li>OCAT: telephone 312/440-2683 (optometry) </li></ul><ul><li>PCAT: http://www.pcatweb.info 1-800-622-3231 (pharmacy) </li></ul><ul><li>VCAT 1-800-622-3231 (veterinary school) </li></ul>
    35. 35. Download the presentation slides http://www.slideshare.net/xqin74 Google: slideshare Xiao Qin
    36. 36. Questions http://www. eng. auburn.edu/~xq in 02/28/11
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