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HomeEducation10 Tips for Going to Grad School as a Working Professional

10 Tips for Going to Grad School as a Working Professional

Want to go back to school but still keep your job? If you’ve been out of college for a while, it might seem hard to go back to school while keeping your job, your family, and your sanity. But it is possible.

Here are 10 tips for working adults who want to go to grad school.

1. Do Your Research

Find out which programs will help you learn what you want to learn and give you the best chance of getting a job. Find out how much it will cost and if you can get help paying for it.

As a working professional, you may need to focus more on location and schedule than a traditional student. Classes in the evening or on the weekend might be easier for you to attend. Or you might decide that an online program is the best way to go.

Just remember that a school’s website isn’t the only place to look before you decide to go there. Talk to them. Ask former students how they balanced school with personal and professional obligations.

Talk to the teachers about how much time they expect you to spend outside of class. Faculty, advisers, current students, and alumni are all good places to get information about a program.

2. Focus on Fit

Think about what programs will help you reach your educational goals and meet the needs of your life. If the graduate program of your dreams is only offered full time and you need to work full time, that program might not be the best fit.

Some programs, on the other hand, care about diversity so much that they break the rules. Talk to the program’s adviser to see if the schedule can be changed to fit your schedule better.

‘There are also part-time programs made for people who already have jobs. These usually look for people who have worked before and understand the needs of working professionals better.

Remember that fit works both ways. You need to find the right program, but the program also needs to find the right students. Consider these questions: Will the experience and the teachers help you in any way? Will you offer a unique perspective to your classmates? What are you going to bring to the learning?

3. Plan Ahead to Make It Possible

Figure out the most important steps you need to take in your application process and put them on a calendar. Start with the deadline for the application and work your way backward.

Do you need to set up entrance exams and study for them? If so, find out how long it takes for your results to be processed. Consider how much time you’ll need if you need help from other people. Plan ahead because people need time to write your letters of recommendation and the registrar’s office needs time to process your transcripts.

To plan ahead, you also have to know that life goes on. Make sure you have time for important events with family and friends and work projects. This discipline will also help you in graduate school.

4. Prepare a Motivating Application Package

In your statement of purpose, you can show the admissions committee that you know what you’re getting into and why. Show that you understand what the program is about and how it will help you, as well as how you and the program’s faculty and your chosen concentration will work well together.

Recommendation letters can help answer the question of “fit.” Anyone can recommend you, but will that person have a good effect on the committee that decides who gets in? They will if they can link what they know about you to what they want to learn from the program. Ask your recommenders to tell you what the program and what comes after it can expect from you.

5. Make Going Back to School a Win-win Situation

When an employee keeps learning, it often helps their employer. Many organizations offer education benefits because of this. Find out what options you have. Talk to your boss about how you could use what you’ve learned to help out at work.

And talk to your teachers about how you can use what you’ve learned to meet the needs of your employer. But besides that, don’t mix work and school. Don’t spend time at work doing your homework, and don’t answer work emails in class. Work and school both need your full attention.

6. Communicate Openly and Maintain a Support System

Make sure that the important people in your life, like your friends, family, coworkers, and boss, know what your plans are. You should try to get help wherever you can. Keep these people up to date on your schedule and any potential conflicts that could come up because of class or study time.

And show them that you will always keep your promises to them by doing what you say you will. Your support group is very important. Keep caring about these relationships.

7. Plan Your Time Wisely

Know what you want to do first, and then make plans based on that. When you get to graduate school, going to class, studying, and doing your work will become more important. Think about what you can give up to make time for these things.

Find out how much time you’ll need to do your classes and study, then set aside that time. Everyone has a different experience. Some people need to give a small amount of time every night, while others prefer to give larger amounts of time less often but more often.

Once you’ve set aside that time, make sure everyone knows it’s just for you. This could mean going to the library or making your partner leave the house for a couple of hours.

8. Teach Yourself New Tricks

Going back to school is a learning process in and of itself. You’ll be going to school and learning new things. And after that, you’ll have to figure out which ways of learning work best for you. Your old habits might not work for you anymore.

Taking notes by hand might help you pay attention, but using a laptop or other digital recording device in class might help you learn more. Look into new tools and tips. Try out things. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

9. Get App Happy and Tech Savvy

There are so many technologies out there that are meant to make your life easier that it’s hard to keep track of them all. There’s probably an app for everything, from taking notes to keeping track of assignments. But it’s easy to spend too much money on tools you don’t need. Find the technology that works best for you and leave the rest.

Several useful ideas? Keep your work, school, and personal email accounts separate. Use social media tools to make a place where you and your classmates can talk about homework and projects. If you can, get course materials on your computer. This will save you time and paper.

10. Schedule Reality Checks and Rewards

Keep your eye on the prize when things get hard, which they will. Remember why you wanted to go back to school, and keep in mind that you can do this. Set goals and remember to reward yourself when you reach them.

Setting goals and having a party when you reach them is not only fun, but also a great way to keep yourself going. Plan a happy hour with friends or a date night with your special someone after your test. And remember that grad school is important to you while you’re in it, but that you’ll only be in it for a short time. So take advantage of it.

Aaron Rigby
Aaron Rigbyhttp://newsdegree.com
I'm a skilled writer who puts my heart and soul into my work. I've been working as an author at a news degree for the last 2 months. I love to spread my knowledge, which I gain through newspaper magazines and the internet.
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