Careers: Graduate School, Timeline & GC Certification Programs

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Considerations for Going to Grad School

from Franklin Pierce University

Greater earning power, career advancement, and enhanced education are just a few strong reasons for pursuing graduate study. An advanced degree can provide you with a competitive edge, potential for promotion, and opportunities to change your career path. Graduate school is also a significant investment of time and resources, and therefore, it is important to determine one’s financial, mental, and emotional readiness before pursuit. Use the information to guide you graduate study exploration, and connect with a career counselor to discuss your unique goals.

Self-reflect on financial, mental, and emotional readiness.

  • What subject areas do I want to study and why?
  • When will I be most ready to engage in an addition 2-7 years of academics?
  • How long will I take to complete this program?
  • Will graduate study significantly increase my earning potential?
  • What are the costs of attending and how will I fund this endeavor?
  • What employers offer tuition assistance?
  • What types of scholarships or fellowship are available?
  • What potential obstacles do you foresee?

Identify programs that align with your career ambitions.

  • Consider credential requirements for prospective career paths.
  • Reflect on your desire to pursue programs with focus on original research versus practical application.
  • Research background, credentials, areas of expertise, and availability of faculty members.
  • Determine geographic location preferences and course formats (i.e. online, on campus, or hybrid).
  • Request information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
  • Identify complete cost of education, including tuition, fees, and cost of living.
  • Ask about graduate student benefits such as housing, assistantships, and employment.
  • Tour campuses to learn more about available academic resources (library, classroom, technology etc.).
  • Review application deadline and requirements.

Graduate school is much more competitive than that of undergraduate study. It is important that candidates develop a strong timeline to stay organized during this lengthy process. Candidates that engage in a year or more of planning may find the process to be less overwhelming and their application to be much stronger. Review the following application overview, and connect with a career counselor to develop an individualized course of action.



Graduate School Timeline

The following is adapted from an article written by Tamara Powell, a lecturer in Communication Studies at California State University, and featured on The Muse (

To help you get organized, stay on track, and have the best chances for getting into your dream school, below is a month-by-month guide to the grad school application process. Develop a chart with deadlines and requirements for each school to help you stay on track.

Junior Year

FALL– work on pulling up your grades if your GPA is an issue

SPRING– Review the considerations for going to graduate school above.

Schedule your entrance exams. You may want to take these exams in the spring of your junior year so you get them out of the way (and have time to retake them if necessary) and can spend the fall filling out your applications and working on your writing samples.


senior year


Most graduate schools look for well-rounded individuals with good grades and some relevant work experience on their resumes. An internship can be an excellent way to gain some professional experience in your chosen field. In some fields, volunteer experiences are also helpful—provided they give you relevant experience and are not simply “envelope stuffing” exercises.

Study for and take Standardized Tests

  • August is the ideal time to take the standardized tests necessary for admissions because you’ll have time to retake them in the fall if you’re unhappy with your scores.
  • Start preparing in July (if not earlier). The Princeton Review and other standardized test prep organizations frequently offer classes for the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE.
  • Greensboro College offers both GRE and LSAT Test Preparation Programs. For more information, contact Suzanne Sudarth, Director of Certification and Innovative Programs at 336-272-7102, ext. 5760 or via email at [email protected]


Test Prep – Links to common standardized tests

Chegg also provides testing resources for the GRE and the LSAT


* For information about taking the GRE or LSAT, please contact Suzanne Sudarth, Director of Certification Development, at [email protected] Scroll to the bottom of this page for information on the GRE and other certification programs available at Greensboro College.


Research Financial Aid. offers a Grad School Financial Aid Timeline..

Begin researching financial aid. Start by creating a budget, outlining how much money you’ll need for tuition, housing, books, fees, and living expenses. Then, make a list of possible funding sources. Most degrees will cost you out of pocket, but some programs offer fellowships and scholarships or work-study opportunities. Learn what federal student aid is available to you, and also research field-specific grants or alumni scholarship opportunities you can apply for.

Select Schools to Apply To

Narrow down the programs you’d like to apply to. You don’t have to visit each school at this point, but you should do extensive online research about prospective programs—scoping out things like curriculum, reputation, cost, faculty expertise, support services, and alumni networks. Also comb through their applications and necessary requirements.

Peterson’s Guide to Graduate Schools

The Princeton Review

Graduate Guide – Guide to Top Accredited Online MBA Programs and Resources

Tech Focused MBA Guides

Greensboro College Piedmont Alternative Licensure Program

Greensboro College Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Masters In Education

Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service

Art Therapy graduate programs

U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings – The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers one graduate-level fellowship worth up to $24,000 per state. Current and prospective secondary school teachers of American government are eligible to apply.

Write Essays

Each school you apply to will likely require one or more essays. Prepare an overarching personal statement, which can be modified for each school. Then, make a list of the other essay questions you’ll need to answer for each program, and get started writing. Writer’s block is pretty common when you’re writing about yourself, so leave plenty of time for this process and for revisions (definitely have another pair of eyes, or more, read over your work).

Request Letters of Recommendation

Decide which faculty members, employers, or other people you will ask for letters of recommendation. Narrow down your list and send emails to request meetings with each person—whether it’s in person or over the phone, you’ll want to discuss your grad school plans and goals before they start writing.

Be prepared to provide each recommender with a copy of your transcript, your statement of purpose, your resume or CV, and each program’s recommendation form.


Order Transcripts

Order official transcripts from the Registrar’s Office and request them to be sent to each program you are applying to. If you’re still in college, you can request that your transcripts be held until fall semester grades are posted, particularly if you think they’ll give your application a boost.

Begin Application Documents

Get Organized

Make a timeline of due dates and make sure that your earliest applications are ready. Create a folder (electronic or paper) for each school and make sure that you keep necessary materials for each program separate.


Send in Applications

Proofread all of your admissions materials and make sure that you’ve filled out every last field on your application form. Send them off.

Confirm Receipt

Make sure that you receive a confirmation statement from each school within two weeks. Contact the admissions office if you do not receive an email, postcard, or letter assuring you they have your application.


Prepare for Admissions Interviews

Schools typically begin contacting students for interviews (if this is a part of their admissions process) about 2-4 weeks after application deadlines. At this point, rank the schools that have invited you and accept invitations in order of priority.

For each program you’ll be interviewing with, set up a new folder with everything you’ll need for your visit. Make a list of questions you have for faculty and staff, and prepare answers to questions you think they may ask. Make any necessary travel arrangements.

Secure Financial Aid or Develop a Funding Plan

Determine if you will receive any fellowship or scholarship money and from which departments. If you aren’t offered funding through the school, start on your Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application by assembling required documents, such as bank statements, W-2s, investment records, and federal income tax returns. If you are married, in a domestic partnership, or a dependent you will also need your spouse’s, partner’s, or parents’ tax return.


Visit Campuses

For each campus you visit, create an itinerary with the program coordinator. Meet with faculty, especially potential advisors or mentors, and ask thoughtful questions. Try to sit in on a few classes and meet with current students, too—anything that might help you picture yourself as a student there. Also plan to spend time checking out the surrounding city—your grad school experience goes far beyond the classroom, so make time to think about if you could live in this location.

Make a Decision

Everyone has a different approach for making important decisions, so stick to your method! Make pro/con lists or spreadsheets to calculate the weight of different factors. Go through your process, rank your schools, and make your decision!


Greensboro College Certification Programs

Greensboro College offers a number of non-academic-credit certification programs. Greensboro College alumni and students receive 20% off any non-credit class that they attend. Financial aid cannot be used to pay for non-credit programs.

For more information, contact:

Suzanne Suddarth
Director of Certification and Innovative Programs
336-272-7102, ext. 5760
[email protected]

  • GRE Test Preparation Program
  • Paralegal Certification Education Program
  • SAT/ACT Test Preparation Program
  • LSAT Test Preparation Program
  • Emerging Leaders Series: Boot Camp or Three-Week Program
  • Retirement 101 Program
  • Certified Financial Planning Education Program – TBA

Find Graduate Certificate Programs by Subject Area


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