Getting Ready for Grad School
March 13, 2020
Here's how I'm preparing for grad school, how should YOU?
No matter what Master's Degree you're aiming for, grad school can definitely be a daunting thought. Not only are the classes more intense in general, but other factors like finances, housing, and opportunities to progress your career are things to consider as well.
When I started to apply to graduate schools, my parents made it very clear that I was in charge of my MFA, and they wouldn't be paying for any part of it like they did with my undergraduate schooling. With this in mind, I quickly had to start figuring out how I was going to pay for everything and push my career as a writer forward at the same time. Though I have yet to enter grad school, I have picked up some practices that helped me to secure my path towards an MFA to the best of my abilities.
Since my sophomore year as an undergraduate, I've had two stable jobs, both giving me a decent amount of money. According to the Huffington Post, "4 out of 5 college students are working part-time while studying for their degrees, averaging 19 hours a week." Since many college students most likely have at least one part-time job, saving up money will definitely come in handy. This doesn't just go for when you have to pay for a place to live while at grad school, but you also have to pay for mandatory entry tests, application fees, and official transcripts. I would highly recommend to start saving money as soon as you even consider grad school. Start by cutting your paychecks in half at most, or even $50 every two weeks into your savings would be great; it'll add up over time, and you'll feel a little more ready for any expenses.
As I started to get accepted to grad schools, I began to worry about finding a place to live. I keep asking myself will I be able to find an affordable apartment or room with the salary the school offered me? However, these worries were soon dispelled. I attended a conference a few weeks ago, and one of the Universities I was accepted to was attending. I quickly got in contact with faculty and arranged to meet with them on multiple occasions. The faculty reassured me, even telling me that some faculty have contact with leasers who often rent to students. If you have these same dilemmas, I would recommend you do the same. Reach out to some faculty or ask around with other current or past students to ask about what housing is like; they may be of more help than you imagined.
This category is a little easier to deal with in grad school, from what I hear, because you're focusing on your career even more intently than undergrad. However, it was still helpful for me to, again, reach out to faculty and inquire about what they do to help students advance their careers. One school that accepted me told me that for creative writing they fund students' research, have guest readers on campus, etc.
I also inquired about opportunities revolving around hobbies I enjoy, such as playing my violin. I asked the faculty if they knew of any orchestras on campus, and they said they would look into any. Lo and behold, a week later I had an email from a faculty member with resources I needed. I'm telling you, speaking to faculty about any concerns you have really helps.
All in all, if you have problems, concerns, or fears about the future of grad school, just get in contact with the faculty of your program or even current students, as some schools can get you in touch with them too. In the end, being smart and saving money and keeping your doors open will help turn you in the right direction.
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