Amy Potthast served as Idealist’s Director of Service and Graduate Education Programs until 2011. Read more of her work at amypotthast.com.
Two of our favorite recruiters at the Idealist Grad Fair in DC last Thursday. (Photo: Julia Smith)
As summer gets underway, and our summer grad fair tour comes to an end (shameless plug: tonight only, 5-8 pm, at Roosevelt University in Chicago), future grad students can turn their energies toward getting ready for fall classes. Here are some things to think about:
From Alamosbasement on Flickr
Visit campus (again)
Since campus is relatively quiet, summer can be an ideal time for a first or second campus visit. While you may not have as many courses to choose from to observe, you will benefit from the slower pace of office life and more quality time with staff and faculty.
In addition to the campus tour, and financial aid and department office visits, you might take the time to orient yourself to the library (home away from home for many in grad school), and take a current student or two out for coffee to get the inside scoop on professors, funding, and coursework.
Read more about visiting campus in our Grad School Resource Center.
Get the inside scoop on financial aid and scholarships
Use your campus visit to meet with your financial aid office, if you haven’t already, to make sure you are making the best choices regarding your student loans, and so that you can get the skinny on scholarships. While you should have been looking for scholarships all along, it’s never too late to search for funding for next year and experts in the financial aid office or your department’s office should have some pointers for you. If you haven’t already put your name in the hat for a graduate assistantship in your department or another, this is a good time to do so.
Read more about funding your graduate education in our Grad School Resource Center.
Take pre-requisite classes
From T.Young on Flickr
Finally, use the summer to take care of pre-requisite courses you need to complete before you can bite into your graduate-level work.
If you are required to take a class before you can enroll, find out if the school has specific restrictions about where you can take the class. Ask the admissions office for course approval before you pay for it and take it. Also find out if you need to earn a minimum grade in the class for it to count.
If you are deficient in a foreign language, or another skill that will take a longer time to master, talk with the admissions office about your options. Your best bet may be to wait another year before applying.
Finally, if you are not starting school this fall, check out this 12-month to-do list for prospective grad students.