Quick-tips: Approaching the graduate school decision process

By James Bouffard
Staff Writer

The process of applying for college and financing an education is often stressful, and many students experience it twice when applying for graduate school. Fortunately at least for KU undergrads, Dr. Don Martin spoke at Kutztown on Oct. 2 to educate students on how to make this process easier.

Dr. Martin spent 28 years working in graduate admissions offices at colleges such as Columbia, Wheaton and Northwestern University. He has also written a book on the subject. He has a few main pieces of advice for students interested in graduate school.

Dr. Martin stresses that the main mistake prospective grad students make is not doing enough research. Too often, people merely rely on word-of-mouth and prestige.

Instead, he suggests that applicants make a list of fifteen or twenty schools they are interested in and subsequently narrow it down. He suggests talking to current students or very recent grads and asking them if they would’ve chosen the same school again if given the choice.

Dr. Martin also emphasized the importance of taking a physical tour. He notes many students were dissatisfied at acclaimed universities such as Columbia merely because of the location.

Dr. Martin offers advice on how to stand out as an applicant. He noted that many students do not follow basic directions, and even just abiding by simple guidelines is enough to help. This is especially important in regards to personal recommendations to bosses or professors. Do not send in more recommendations than asked for unless told otherwise.

Additionally, he noted that students should never ask easily answerable questions pertaining to application deadlines or financial aid. He even goes so far as to call these two particular inquiries “the kiss of death.”

Dr. Martin also gives students advice on how to finance their graduate school educations. He noted the two biggest mistakes students make are not checking their credit score and not applying for scholarships.

He noted many students are not even aware of how much money they may be eligible to receive. He encourages students to look into potential scholarships at the end of each semester at their grad school financial aid office.


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