Graduate School Planning

students in graduate school meeting

NIU Career Services is here to help you as you consider enrolling in graduate or professional school and as you navigate your way through the application process.

Here are some of the ways we can help you:

  • Clarify your reasons for considering graduate study
  • Develop strategies to research programs consistent with your career goals
  • Prepare for a successful graduate school interview

Good reasons to apply:

  • Your career goals require an advanced degree.
  • You want to advance in your current field.
  • You want to switch careers.
  • You want to master a field of specialized knowledge and satisfy your intellectual curiosity.

Reasons to reconsider applying:

  • You don't know what else to do.
  • You want to please someone else.
  • You want to avoid a tight job market.
  • You want to avoid paying off student loans that come due when you leave school.

For more reasons to apply or not apply, see Peterson’s Guide to Graduate Schools.

After you have made the decision to attend graduate school, you need to decide which school is right for you. There are many factors to consider. Here are a few resources to help you evaluate programs and search for schools.

Admission to graduate/professional school is competitive, you’ll need to do advance planning and preparation to increase your admission chances. Review the timetables, process and checklist to ensure you are on the right track.

The personal statement (or application essay) is a standard component of most graduate and professional school applications. Essay requirements vary from program to program. Application essays give you an opportunity to explain -- through narrative, example and analysis -- aspects of your personal, educational and professional history that may have led you to pursue an advanced degree at a particular institution. Admissions committees rely heavily on these essays to put a face on impersonal test scores and grade point averages. For this reason, it's important to use details and thoughtful self-presentation to make your face the one that stands out in a crowd. Have fun writing your personal statement. It is one of the best (and only) opportunities you will have to demonstrate your creativity and personality to the graduate school admissions staff.

Disclaimer: NIU Career Services makes reasonable efforts to assure that links are current and take users to sites that contain appropriate, inoffensive content. However, NIU and Career Services are not responsible for content of external websites. Inclusion of commercial sites should not be construed in any way as an endorsement of products or services advertised.