We know, we know you’re still working on your college degree (which everyone told you would make your life so much better) and now we’re telling you to start thinking about graduate school. You should start thinking about it, though! In fact, it doesn’t hurt to consider what grad school paths would be open to you before you choose your major for your bachelor’s degree.
In 2017, over 3 million students were enrolled in graduate school in the U.S. so the importance of considering education beyond your bachelor’s degree is certainly becoming more widely known with grad school enrollment up 3.5% in 2015. This, of course, means more competition for spots in not only prestigious schools but the school around the corner as well. That’s clearly another reason to start considering your grad school options earlier rather than later.
Depending on the type of graduate degree you want to pursue you’ll also have to start thinking about standardized tests required by many schools for your application to be considered. There are programs where you won’t need to provide standardized tests with your application, but you shouldn’t count on finding one–even online graduate degree programs generally require them. The GRE or Graduate Records Examination is the gold standard for most programs and not a test anyone should approach without some research, study, and preparation. You can find information about GRE prep courses online or through most colleges or universities.
If you’re considering law school, you will, of course, need to take the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, as it is required to apply at nearly every Juris Doctorate granting institution in the U.S. Or, if med school is more your jam, you’ll need to take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test. Both of these tests require a considerable amount of preparation and study, and if you’re pursuing paths in medicine or law they’ll become an integral part of your educational experience.
Beyond the testing and applications, you’ll need to consider whether your ideal grad school would require a serious change of address. For many career paths, graduating from the right school or doing internships at the right companies can make or break your future career. This may mean you’ll have to move far away from home, or wherever you’ve completed your undergrad. It’s never too early to start thinking ahead about grad school for this reason alone.
Grad school can also be a chance to attend the dream schools you didn’t get into as an incoming freshman. Many students whose high school performance was less than ideal will flourish in college and find that their grades and achievements mean that more glamorous schools are options for their graduate studies. Yes, you may be able to get into an Ivy for grad school, even if they all rejected your undergrad application! It never hurts to begin thinking about the school you want to attend and looking through their application requirements.
It’s a good idea to begin talking to your current academic advisor as soon as possible about your grad school goals or plans. They can often help you make the right choices to make your grad school goals a reality, and they also can help you feel more prepared for the road ahead!