Academics

How To Help Your Student Navigate Graduate School Applications/Stresses

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By Danielle Wirsansky, Uloop

All parents want their children to be successful. Though every parent defines success in different ways, for most parents, the criteria for success includes being able to take care of themselves, being able to support themselves, and finding happiness in whatever it is that they choose to do.

Many students go off and begin their true lives as independent adults once they have graduated from college, in search of happiness and success. But for other students, happiness and success can only be achieved through more schooling—namely, graduate school.

Whether they simply want to continue learning or want to learn more or they cannot achieve the job of their dreams without attending, graduate school is a common next step for many students. Vox reports that the majority of college freshmen now plan to attend graduate school, specifically to get a master’s degree. This is no surprise as the master’s degree is the fastest growing credential in the country! Vox also added that “… more than 16 million people in the US — about 8 percent of the population — now have a master’s, a 43 percent increase since 2002.”

So perhaps your student wants to join the more than 16 million people in the US that have gone on to get their masters—or even those that have gone further in graduate school then getting their masters. They have decided to do it and they are committed to seeing the degree through.

Surprisingly, making the tough decision on whether or not to pursue graduate school, to begin with, is usually the easiest part. This is because the application process for graduate school is incredibly arduous and stressful than the undergraduate application process. It is particularly difficult for those who are currently still in their undergraduate schooling to juggle their graduate school applications at the same time, much more difficult than undergraduate school applications being done while your student was still in high school.

There are applications to fill out, supplementary documents that must be included, personal statements to write, resumes and CV’s to create, writing samples to be perfected, portfolios to be created, and tests to be taken. Most are necessary steps to the application process for graduate school. This might sound similar to the steps the application process for college entails—but remember this is graduate school, so everything is just a little bit more complicated, a little bit harder, and needs to be just that much more perfect when turned in.

Your student does not have the option of winging it. In order to be accepted in graduate school, you have to show that you know exactly what you are doing, what you plan to do, and why you belong. And even if your student does not know all of those things (as it is very difficult to do so), they have to be able to pretend like they do convincingly enough.

And that is a lot of pressure! This is after making another one of the most difficult decisions—deciding what schools to even apply for or what programs they are interested in. Researching schools, connecting with professors, distilling their own interests—this is a lot of important things a college student has to decide that will affect their whole future. And they are doing it with all the added stress of completing their senior year of college, one of the most notoriously difficult years of their college experience.

So how can you as their parent support them? How can you help them to navigate their graduate school applications and alleviate the stresses that come with it all? How can you help them be as successful as possible?

Be supportive. Whatever you can help them with, do it. They need an opinion on which program is the best fit for their future career? Look into it and give them your *informed* opinion. They need help tracking deadlines and due dates? Help your student make a master calendar and then help them stay on top of all of their obligations in regard to the graduate school applications. Does your student not feel confident about their writing sample? Help the look it over and help them find someone qualified to do so. Is your student worried about being able to afford all of the application fees? Help them budget their money so that they can afford it (or help contribute paying for them too, if this is an option for you).

Send them care packages. Remind them that you are there for them. Let them know that you support their choices (even if you think graduate school might be a waste of time). Help them feel confident in their choices and actions and help them to be responsible. Allow them to achieve the goals and dreams they have set for themselves. Give the kind of support you wish someone would provide you with if you decided to tackle such a huge task yourself. Let your student know that you care.


Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, college roommates, tutors, study abroad opportunities, student travel, online courses, textbooks, jobs and internships for college students, and more.

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