Graduate School: Prepare & Apply

The idea of attending graduate school always intrigued me during my years as an undergrad. With a desire to become a counselor I knew it was inevitable, but I didn’t know much about the process. Here are some of my tips for preparing and applying to graduate school programs.


Research the University, the Graduate School, the Department, the Program and the City/Area in which the school is located. You’d think that this would be common sense, but from experience, I can tell you it’s not. Each of these levels can have a dramatic effect on your choice to attend or even apply to a specific program. For example, if the program is located in a city or state that you are unwilling or unable to move to, it doesn’t matter how strong of a program it is, it won’t be satisfying for you. Same thing goes with the department. If you are looking for a graduate program with a large full-time staff, a program that relies on adjunct faculty may not be your best bet.


If at all possible, once you have done your research, go on a campus visit. You can learn a great deal about a campus and a program by looking at the space you’ll be in as a graduate student. Listen to your gut if it does or doesn’t feel right.

Informational Interview

Consider setting up interviews with faculty members to learn more about their research or areas of expertise. Ask questions that you couldn’t find the answers to online or in print resources.

Contact current graduate students! Often time departments are more than willing to have prospective students meet with current students. Find out from students what the pros and cons are of the program and what suggestions they would have for you about how to navigate the grad school life.


If you like what you see and hear, apply! Remember that graduate school applications can be somewhat complex and generally require all or some of the following components:

  1. Application form (electronic or paper)
    1. For the Graduate School
    2. For the program
  2. Resume
  3. Cover Letter
  4. Personal Statement
  5. Autobiography Statement
  6. Letter of intent

For assistance with any of these documents, you can set up an appointment with any of the Career staff at Career & Leadership Development by calling 262-472-1471.

With your application, pay special attention to deadlines, specifics on where and how to submit your completed application or necessary admissions tests like the GRE or GMAT.

Overall when you’re thinking graduate school, start early and weigh your options. No two programs are the same and there is a “right one” out there for you!

Photo by: Collin College