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Preparing for Graduate School: Common Questions

What are the advantages of attending graduate school?

Many people consider attaining advanced degree as a means to higher salaries; this is certainly one of the advantages gained from graduate study. People with advanced degrees have the credentials that make them eligible for upper-level and specialized positions, which have higher salaries and increased responsibilities. Beyond mere economics, however, graduate school provides invaluable opportunities to pursue in-depth research, to study with specialists, and to improve methodologies and writing skills. The rigor of graduate studies also offers a greater breadth of knowledge and enhanced critical thinking abilities that can enrich your life, overall. Lastly, graduate school is extremely challenging, which, like all challenges, provides an opportunity for growth and for attaining your personal best.

What are the challenges of graduate school?

Graduate studies require a long-term commitment. Depending on the choice of programs, field of study, and availability of funding, graduate school can take between five to ten years. Even with full financial assistance and the support of family and friends, it can be a long time to be living as a student. There can be times when graduate study demands all of your time and energy. It can also be insular, isolating you from outside activities, and in many institutions, it can be extremely political. If you don't receive a good financial aid package, it can also be expensive. Graduate tuition and fees are higher than those for undergraduate study. However, with great challenges come great accomplishments, and a sense of pride in knowing that you are changing the face of higher education, which is a benefit to all in academia. 

Will the McNair program help me get into graduate school?

Yes. Many graduate schools provide application fee waivers for McNair scholars and some actively recruit McNair scholars and offer  graduate fellowships. Graduate schools know that McNair scholars are motivated, have an understanding of the rigors and culture of graduate study, and have research or scholarship experience. Faculty advisers, mentors, and McNair staff offer a wealth of information and advice about graduate programs and aid sources. 

When should I start preparing to apply to graduate school?

At least one year in advance. We encourage all students in our program to begin preparing for the graduate school application process during their junior year.