On May 12th, Expert Admissions co-hosted a webinar, “Life After College: Testing, Careers and Graduate School” to discuss various success strategies for students after college. We answered questions about when and how to take entrance exams for graduate school, the process of applying to professional schools, transitioning to a career, and more. Keep reading for highlights from the conversation.
Standardized Tests for Graduate School
Students considering graduate or professional school should determine which exams they’ll need to take in advance of applying. Most programs ask prospective students to submit scores for either the GRE, GMAT (business school), LSAT (law school) or MCAT (medical school). Unlike the recent test-optional policies at undergraduate schools, most graduate programs, particularly the professional schools, still require test scores.
The timing of when students should prepare for and take these exams depends on the student and his or her goals. Some students will get their best results by taking an exam during their senior year of college or immediately after. Others may do better taking the exams some time after graduation.
Test scores are an essential element in a competitive graduate school application. We recommend aiming for the best possible score on your entrance exams, even if that means waiting until the right time to prepare for and take the test.
GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT scores are automatically recorded. Graduate programs can see test takers’ scores, how many times they’ve taken the exam, and whether they’ve canceled an exam date. It’s best to aim for a single, optimal score for these exams.
Applying for Graduate or Professional School
Taking a year or more in between college and graduate school is not only common, it’s often a good idea. What a graduate or professional school applicant does in the interim between college and graduate school is critical to their candidacy.
For medical school applicants, research experience or clinical experience interacting with patients in the medical field is crucial. For those applying to MBA programs, two to four years of work experience will form the bridge to candidacy that schools are looking for.
Choosing which schools to apply to depends largely on the student’s goals. Those applying to professional schools will want to learn about schools’ rankings as well as particular programs within the school. Those applying for Ph.D. or Master’s degree programs should look at the departments, faculty members and research opportunities within a school, and seek programs that most closely match their interests.
Knowing clearly why you want to go to a professional program will help you write better application essays, and ultimately help you land in the program that’s best for you.
Life After College
Current college students and recent graduates considering their next moves can take strategic steps to set themselves up for success on the job market. Potential employers want to see that a candidate is committed and engaged in their daily life, regardless of employment status. Getting involved in meaningful pursuits that develop your professional skill is a great idea for those looking for a full-time job.
Networking, written communication, and public speaking are all skills that will greatly benefit college graduates as they embark on their career paths. Look for opportunities to practice these skills whenever possible. When interviewing for jobs, it’s important to communicate your authentic self–what makes you unique. Beyond meeting basic job qualifications, job candidates need to be able to express why they, in particular, are a perfect fit for the job.
We also took questions on test study strategies, internships and fellowships, how parents can support students seeking jobs, and more. For all the details, watch the webinar here.