Graduate Programs

Blogs from students, faculty & staff

The journey towards pursuing a graduate degree often begins with understanding the intricate admission process and requirements. Dr. Christopher Lewis, host of the Victors in Grad School podcast, shares valuable insights on the nuances of graduate school applications, shedding light on the essential elements that prospective students need to consider.

Letter of Recommendation: Articulating Your Journey and Aspirations

As Dr. Lewis highlights, letters of recommendation play a pivotal role in the graduate admission process. Prospective applicants are advised to communicate their application stage to recommenders, providing specific points that would add value to their letters. It’s crucial for applicants to select recommenders who are familiar with their academic journey and can eloquently advocate for their suitability for the program.

Crafting a Persuasive Personal Statement

The personal statement is a platform for applicants to showcase their unique qualities, ambitions, and alignment with their chosen program. Dr. Lewis emphasizes the importance of demonstrating in-depth knowledge about the program while avoiding repetition of information from the resume. Applicants are encouraged to be specific, concise, and meticulous in proofreading their personal statement to convey a compelling narrative.

Insights into Graduate Program Interviews

The interview stage of the graduate admission process can be conducted through single-person or group interviews. Dr. Lewis stresses that these interviews serve as a means to assess not only the applicant’s subject knowledge but also their personal characteristics. It’s pivotal for applicants to prepare adequately and present themselves authentically during these interactions.

Understanding Admission Decisions and Financial Considerations

Upon submitting applications, prospective students may encounter outcomes such as acceptance, denial, or placement on a waitlist. Dr. Lewis advises responding to acceptance promptly, while also being prepared to manage the financial aspects of graduate education. Understanding and adhering to application deadlines, deposit requirements, and potential financial aid options becomes integral during this phase of the process.

Navigating the Diverse Landscape of Graduate Programs

Dr. Lewis underscores the significance of a comprehensive approach to researching and comparing graduate programs. Prospective students are encouraged to create a comparison spreadsheet, taking into account factors such as program costs, class offerings, faculty backgrounds, and application deadlines.

Tailoring Application Strategies to Unique Program Requirements

Different graduate programs may have diverse application processes and requirements, even within the same institution. It is imperative for applicants to diligently research each program’s specific prerequisites, including application costs, transcript submissions, letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose requirements. Understanding these unique criteria is key to crafting tailored and impactful application strategies.

Preparing for Standardized Tests and Timely Application Submissions

Prospective students are advised to research and prepare for standardized tests required by specific graduate programs. Whether it’s the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT, applicants are encouraged to plan their test dates and study schedules strategically. Moreover, meticulously adhering to application timeliness and considerations for transcript submissions are pivotal steps in ensuring a smooth application process.

Choosing the Right Graduate Program: A Holistic Approach

In the pursuit of the perfect graduate program, prospective applicants are urged to consider various pertinent factors. Dr. Lewis advocates for exploring internship opportunities, connecting with faculty and alumni, and attending information sessions or open houses to gain deeper insights into the culture and ethos of different programs. Moreover, assessing program accreditations and aligning program offerings with career objectives are crucial components in making an informed decision.

Incorporating these insights and strategies into their graduate school application journeys equips prospective students with the knowledge and understanding needed to navigate this transformative phase of their educational and professional pursuits. Dr. Lewis’s guidance serves as a compass, empowering aspiring graduate students to approach the admission process with confidence and clarity.


Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:01]:
Welcome to the Victor’s in Grad School, where we have conversations with students, alumni, and experts about what it takes to find success in graduate school.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:11]:
Hello, and welcome. Thank you so much for being here. My name is doctor Christopher For Lewis, I’m the director of graduate programs at the University of Michigan Flint. I’m really excited to have you here today. Today, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have a A very interactive conversation about graduate school and what it takes to get into graduate school to be able to understand the process of getting into graduate school. Thank you so much for being here. We’re really excited to have you here today and to talk about this. I’m hoping to be able to use the next, 45 minutes or so to be able to talk about graduate school, talk about All the things that you need to be thinking about as it comes to graduate school.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:52]:
We do have a chat function here, and I encourage you to Use the chat function to be able to introduce yourselves, so feel free to introduce yourself, who you are, where you’re from. Go ahead in the chat and do that. And we’re gonna be talking about a lot of different things. 1st and foremost, we’re gonna be talking about the actual admission process. What do you have to do to be considered For graduate school, how do you pay for this? As a student, whether you’re a domestic student, an international student, Whatever it may be, it’s important to understand that and what you need to do to be able to prepare for that and The cost of going to graduate school. Some graduate programs are going to be requiring test scores, transcripts, things that you’re going to need to send to the school as well as letters of recommendation or statements of purpose or other types of factors, other types of things that you’re going to need to send into the programs themselves. So all of those things are are things that you’re going to be needing to think about to be able to prepare yourself for as you’re looking at the future. Some programs also use an interview process.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:07]:
We’ll talk about that and what that can look like. Some of the information I’m gonna be sharing today is A little more general information because I wanna make sure that you understand because every graduate program, every university is just a little bit different. So I’m gonna give you some generalities, especially for graduate school in the United States and what that looks like, also what it looks like here at the University of Michigan Flint. And then finally, what happens at the point of you get everything in, you submit that application, and you then are waiting for that admission decision, And what do you need to do to prepare yourself for after the fact to be able to, then be able to start in your graduate education if you’re accepted? Okay. So all of this being said, let’s step into the admission process. So as you’re looking at the admission process, 1st and foremost, one of the things that everyone needs to do is you need to take the time to be able to Truly research graduate programs. You may have an idea in your head right now about The program or types of programs that you’re looking for, every program is a little bit different. So it is important that you take your time To do your research and to look at all of the different types of programs that are out there, whether it be looking at law school to A master of science in computer science to public administration, to business, to health, whatever it may be.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:03:44]:
There are many different types of programs, and every program looks a little bit different. The classes that you’re gonna be taking are different. The philosophy of the program is different. The backgrounds of the faculty are different. So delving deep into different programs To explore those programs and to set them side by side will allow for you An opportunity to be able to explore them and compare them equally amongst each other. I typically tell students That one of the things that really helps students is to set up a spreadsheet of sorts, Whether it’s in Google or Microsoft Excel or some other type of Excel sheet and make columns For each college that you’re considering and in the rows, create a way for yourself to be able to look at each college and compare each college to the same factors, then you’re comparing them on an equal basis. So if they if you wanna if if price is a is really important, then you put price there. If it’s certain classes Or you’re looking for a specific concentration, if you’re looking for specific backgrounds of faculty, you write all of that in there So that when you’re truly comparing each program, you’re able to set them side by side and you’re able to then allow yourself to get a better picture of what each program would offer you and what the differences are.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:05:20]:
After you do that, Make sure you also have those deadlines in there because there are different deadlines for different programs, and you want to be able to make sure you’re not missing an application deadline. And you want to make sure that you’re applying by those deadlines and getting everything complete. As you’re doing your research, you’re going to need to also make sure That you are looking at the requirements for each program. Each program is going to be very unique from one another. I look at the programs even at my own institution and even at my own institution here at the University of Michigan Flint. What I come to find is that across even our programs, there’s differences. There may be similar things happening within similar within similar colleges, But if you are but if you’re looking at something that is in, let’s say, the School of management or you’re looking at something that is in a completely different college, the requirements may be very different. So as As you’re looking at the admission requirements, you’re gonna wanna look at things like, what’s the cost to apply? Not only to the institution, is there Any additional cost to apply specifically to that program? Some programs do have different fees, different costs, Different you may have to pay a deposit if you are admitted to the program.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:06:44]:
So you have to look at all of those factors. Because as you’re planning for graduate school, those are going to be things that you’re going to be need to be looking at to be able to know what The actual cost is going to be. Many graduate programs these days are going to be requiring that you have, one, Your transcripts and we’ll talk about transcripts a little bit later, but your transcripts sent in. If you are a domestic student, it’s pretty easy. A lot of schools are using electronic means to be able to get those transcripts submitted, and it’s a pretty direct process. At our institution, most Students are able to send their domestic transcripts from US institutions directly through parchment from your institution over to our institution. If you are an an international student, you typically are going to need to either 1, depending on the institution, you’re gonna have to have your Transcripts evaluated through an, an outside evaluation entity, such as WES or ECE, Span Tran, Educational perspectives. There’s lots of different ones that are out there, and you need to look at your individual program to see if they require that, what they require, Or institutions may be willing to review your transcripts and review your unofficial transcripts And give you a little bit of time to get those official transcripts to the institution.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:11]:
But, again, each individual campus is going to be different, So you need to look at the requirements, read fully, and make sure you understand. And if you have questions, you always reach out. Many programs will require some type of letters of recommendation. It could be 1. It could be 2. It could be 3. And Many times those types of graduate programs are going to be asking students to be able to Get letters of recommendation from specific people. So it might be a professor and or a, a professional reference.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:08:50]:
So look at those requirements as well. Statement of purpose is many times very common. A statement of purpose is going to be unique to each program. A lot of times they do want to know why do you wanna do this? Why is this important to you, and why is it something that you are passionate about? So those are things that you need to be thinking about for yourself. And especially if your program has an interview process, It’s because many times that type of question is going to come up in that as well. Beyond that, understanding the actual application and Being able to submit your application, many times applications go straight through a university website, But sometimes there are unique application systems that you have to go through. So at our institution, at the University of Michigan Flint, we have some Programs that, reuse what are called centralized application systems or CAS applications. At our university, our Physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and public health programs all use different CAS application systems.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:10:03]:
What that means is that you’re going to use an external application system where you’ll submit all your documents there. Once that Once you have all your documents in, they get verified by that external agency and then get sent back to the institution. Law school uses this. Med school uses this, pharmacy school, vet school, all of a number of different types of of professional based programs are utilizing these centralized application services. So understanding the admission requirements, Very important, understanding the unique requirements for each program that you’re looking at is important because it’s not a one size fits all that you’re going to have to follow when you’re looking at different colleges and different programs. Most of our programs here at the University of Michigan Flint are going to be requiring about 2 letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose. That’s pretty common. Sometimes there’s some short answer questions that they may ask you in the application process or in an interview, but but, typically, application, Letters of recommendation, transcripts, and your statement of purpose are pretty common here at the University of Michigan Flint.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:11:20]:
Application timeline, one of the things that you do need to be thinking about when you’re applying is the true timeline for that program. There are many programs out there that are that have that admit on a rolling admission basis. If you see that, that means that The application is gonna open at a certain point. Let’s say it’s September 1st, and they open that that application for the next fall on September first. So anytime between that September 1st deadline and when they say that they’re closing, let’s say it’s August 1st, August 1st, you can apply to be considered for that program. However, there are other programs that have specific application deadlines. So our physical therapy program, that program opens their application cycle at about June 1st. They closed their application cycle on about October 15th.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:12:19]:
So you have to really be conscious And look closely at the deadlines and know what you need to be working on to prepare yourself To be able to get the things in that you are that you are needing to submit because your application is not going to be complete until everything has been collected and has been received by the institution. And if your application is not complete, that means that the academic unit that you are applying to is not going to see your application until your application is complete. Now talking about application itself, filling the application out is typically not a hard process. There are pretty similar questions across institutions. However, You will find that there are some institutions where they have unique questions that are tailored toward the institution, tailored toward the program itself. So you do have to watch that and know that, that each program is the same and that if you’re applying to multiple schools, You want to make sure that you are being conscious of the unique questions and be able to have the time and spend the time To fully fill out the application. As you are looking to fill the application out, you wanna make sure that you You do answer all the questions unless the questions say they’re not required or that they are optional questions. You want to Fully answer the questions on the application because by missing something, failing to fill something out that can at times hold your application up while the office that is receiving your application is verifying information.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:14:14]:
So the goal here is to expedite the process and expedite the experience for yourself So that the process does not drag on for a long time. Now going back to the application timeline, one of the things to think about too and to know is that At the point in which you send in your application, what you’re gonna find is that Each program has a different timeline to when they decide on their applications. Some academic programs will wait until the end of their application cycle to review all applicants. Some programs will review applicants on a rolling basis, Meaning that once an application comes in, they’re gonna consider that applicant. And then there’s other programs that may have different points in the year. So they might have an early deadline. And if you apply right at the early deadline, you’re you will find out early Whether or not you’ve been admitted or not. And you could get put onto a wait list.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:15:18]:
That’s a possibility. And then they wait to look at you again Until later in the application cycle. So each program is a little bit unique. Go back to that spreadsheet that we were talking about To add that information into the spreadsheet so that you then can keep everything organized for yourself And so that you can know what the differences are per program because because the programs are different and it’s not the same across institution, across, programs, you want to make sure that you understand what those differences are. As you’re filling out the application, the final piece Typically, here is your application fee. Many institutions will waive the application fee if you attend something like this Or if the you go to an event, you know, there’s lots of opportunities that that they may do that at at Institutions that are highly selective, they may not, and it may be something that they will require you to submit before You can even be considered. So you have to look at, okay, what is the price, what is the cost, and prepare yourself to be able to afford and pay that and to be able to pay that across numerous institutions if that is something that you’re planning to do. At our institution, the typical application fee is $55.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:16:41]:
That’s pretty typical, but there are institutions that have no Application fee. There are some institutions that have higher application fees or lower application fees. Again, as you’re looking at it, as you’re researching, And you’re selecting graduate programs that are going to be a good fit for you, you wanna make sure that you are looking at those and setting those side by side. Okay. So when we’re looking at requirements, I’m just gonna kinda click through these and add them all up because I’ve I’ve talked about some of these already. But first and foremost, what what are institutions looking for? They’re looking for a bachelor’s degree. Now we know that Some of you may be still working on your bachelor’s degree and that you are planning to be done before you start. That’s great.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:17:26]:
You wanna make sure that if that is the case, that when you are applying, the institution is going to be requiring that your final transcripts are also sent So you could get conditionally admit based off of your transcripts, but to get fully admitted, And that means for domestic students that you’d be eligible for for financial aid or other scholarships, and the same for other students, for international students as well. For you to be able to register for classes in your 2nd term, typically, you’re going to have to have those final transcripts in. GPA is definitely a requirement and things that All programs are going to be looking at, the typical average of graduate programs are going to be that they’re going to be looking for a 3 point o. Three point o is typically the baseline average. There are some programs that may consider students a little below that. You might get admitted on probation And and given a chance to be able to prove yourself, but you do have to make sure that you are, that that if you do have that lower GPA, that you’re working really hard in that 1st term to be able to show them that the chance that they’ve given you is worth it and that you are, able to handle the quality and the, the quality as well as the rigor of the academics that you’re going through in that graduate program. Now there are other programs that are more highly selective or they get many applicants for certain numbers of seats that may have Higher GPAs. Most programs are going to be very transparent.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:19:00]:
If they require a higher GPA, they’re gonna tell you that. If there is a typical average GPA of their accepted class, many times they will show you that on the trans or on the website of the program itself. So you wanna look at that as well. So I can use the example of our physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant studies programs here at the University of Michigan Flint. Those are very competitive programs and have limited seats in those programs. Those programs typically, though the baseline bar is a 3 point o, we typically see that the average GPA of an entering student is somewhere between the 3 4 and a 36. So that’s something that I can tell you. Now the GPAs in those programs and the average GPA in those programs is gonna be different Then if I said what the average GPA was for our MBA or for our masters in public administration.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:19:52]:
So each program is just a little bit different A little bit unique in that way. Test scores, different programs may require a test score, depends on the academic area, depends on, the program and the institution. All of our programs here at the University of Michigan Flint have now, gone away from requiring any test scores, but you will find programs that will require The GRE, which is a graduate records exam, the GMAT, which is typically used for the for business schools, the LSAT for law school admission, the MCAT for medical school admission, you know, all of these different types of tests are out there, and they are tests that Help a program to better understand whether or not you may be able to be successful in graduate school. We have gotten rid of them because we feel that there are other ways to determine that. And we feel that the the tests don’t always indicate In the end, if you are, if you are going to be successful so we have chosen that at our institution, but at other institutions, They may still require that. You do need to watch that, and you need to watch when those tests are being offered. Because if you haven’t taken them and you’re planning to, let’s say, Apply for, let’s say, fall 24. There are going to be specific dates that tests are typically being offered, And you need to make sure that you have enough time to take the test and potentially retake the test if you need to to be able to get a higher score, and you need to give yourself that time.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:21:27]:
Letters of recommendation. As I said, here at our institution, The typical average is about 2 letters of recommendation. Some programs could have 3 or maybe 1. Every institution collects those in different ways. Some will have you Send in hard copies of letters or email in a copy of a letter from someone or they may have an electronic process. We have an electronic process. So when you are applying, If your program requires you to have a specific number of letters of recommendation, You are going to enter in the information for the people that you want to send those letters of recommendation to, and then automatically Our electronic system, our application system will send that to those individuals. We will then keep you keep you up to date because there is a checklist in your application where you can go back in and see where you at When it comes to the checklist items, the things that you’re required to submit to us, and sometimes you do have to follow-up with those people that you’ve asked To give you a letter of recommendation because just because you send it doesn’t always mean that they’re going to that they’re going to, send it back right away.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:22:38]:
The other thing that you always should do when you’re going to be adding someone and asking someone for a letter of recommendation is make sure that you Talk to those people ahead of time, make sure that you are letting them know that you are or asking them first if they’re willing to be a a recommender. And if so, then when you apply, make sure they know you’re going to be getting an email Or you’re going to be needing to submit this. So if you’re applying here, they’re going to get an email, so letting them know ahead of time. You’re gonna get an email from The office of graduate programs at the University of Michigan Flint so that they don’t just ignore that because sometimes that can be a problem if They do that and then, they say, oh, I never got it, and it could have gone to their spam as well. Personal statement or essay, we talked about that already. And this is a, an electronic process, something that you submit typically electronically to the University that you want to go to, the office, that where that is collecting your application, and they will attach that to your application itself. Sometimes programs will also ask you for a resume or a CV or curriculum vitae. Typically, if you don’t know what CV is a CV is a much more, intensive resume that takes a look at a lot of PhD programs will ask for a CV Because individuals at that point may be already doing some research or may be doing some publications or have published in some different ways, So they’re going to want something a little bit more in-depth, than a typical resume that you would use for a job.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:24:18]:
And then Finally is interviews, and interviews can look and feel different ways. Some interviews can be in person. Many these days are going to be via Zoom like this, especially after the pandemic and Seeing that individuals now are much more adept to using this technology, programs are as well. So a lot of times there are there are, those type of opportunities. And I’ll have a link at the end. I’ll have a QR code that you can link to. This is just this I pulled this from a article that we wrote on our graduate programs blog, which has many, many different resources on it that will help you to be able to prepare yourself well for graduate school. So as you and we talked a little bit about choosing the right program.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:25:10]:
And, I’m gonna try to go through and share a number of different things that you can think about, that you can utilize to be able to consider Graduate school in different ways. 1st and foremost, you want to think about your career goals and interest. You know, why are you looking at graduate school? Why you know, what is most important to you when you’re looking at your graduate education? What are you trying to get out of that graduate education? By considering your career goals and your interest, you’re able to then look to and understand what are you looking for in a program. So then you’re able to find that program that truly aligns with the goals that you’re setting for yourself and that you’re preparing for yourself in that way. You want to definitely research different programs. We talked about that a little bit already. There’s lots of different factors to consider, some of which are are things like cost, location, requirements of the program, You know, how long the program is, what the and, you know, all of those things are going to be factors. You wanna look at, Are there opportunities for you to be able to get experience through internships or clinical experiences? You want to look at all those different factors Because all of those things are going to be things that are, that are going to be important for you to be able to to prepare yourself For the career that you want in the future, there is nothing that says that you cannot reach out to faculty or to alumni of the program or the school that you wish to go to, and reaching out can give you a lot of different insights.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:26:45]:
Many times, the websites of the academic programs We’ll provide you with a list of faculty or we’ll introduce you to different faculty members. Faculty love to talk to students. So Reaching out to them, especially if you find individuals that have similar research interests or inter interests in areas where you have an interest as well. You can talk to them and get a better feel for them, but also a better feel for the program. The same is the case with alumni of programs. You can find alumni of programs through through LinkedIn or through other means. I mean, I know on our websites, we have some of our alums that are spotlighted, and you can get some of their stories and, right on the website and hear some of their stories in that way. Accreditation, You may or may not have heard that word before, but accreditation is important.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:27:35]:
You want to make sure that the program that you’re applying to is fully accredited Accredited and that it is accredited by the accrediting body for that professional area. Most academic programs do have Professional accrediting bodies, not just institutional accreditation, but programmatic accreditation. And why is that important? Well, It’s important because it ensures you to you that a program is meeting the standards of the profession And that they are doing what they need to do to be able to prepare you well for the not only the education that you want, but also Preparing you well with the skills that you need to be be ready and, able to go into the workforce. There are open houses, information sessions. We have lots of different opportunities here at the University of Michigan Flint, webinars all the time, in person open houses as well, and we know that they are that there are people from all over the place that are considering graduate school. And so we try to at our institution, we try to make sure that information sessions are being held at different times of the day, But every institution is a little bit different. You need to look at their events. And typically on their website, you’re gonna see the different events that are coming up.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:29:00]:
And I encourage you to take advantage of those and learn more, you know, whether it’s a programmatic a specific programmatic institutional session that talks about the the the college itself or about the program itself or if it’s about something like this, where we’re talking specifically about graduate school and what you need to do to be able to be successful in graduate school. These are all great opportunities for you to be able to get a better feel for the culture, the community, the program themselves, and then allowing for you to better feel whether the program is a good fit for for you too. So multiple programs, we know that many people are going to be considering multiple programs, And you’re looking at your options. You’re trying to find that best fit. That’s a good thing. We wanna make sure that you’re not limiting yourself to 1 graduate program unless you know And you say, this is the program for me. I have done my research. I’ve looked at all the factors, and I know that this is a good fit.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:30:02]:
That’s great. But We also know that there’s many programs that offer different varieties, different variations of the programs that are out there, And you want to do your due diligence to make sure that it’s the right fit. Couple other things as you’re looking, we already talked about researching programs. You want to prepare your application materials. You wanna make sure that as you’re looking at these, that you you’re starting to collect And prepare to collect those transcripts. They need to be official transcripts eventually because you do need to make sure that that those official transcripts get in. You wanna start to talk to the individuals, and if you haven’t started your application yet to the programs that you’re looking at, Start talking to people that you think you may want to have recommend you and talk to them and find out if they’re willing to do that, Especially as you start to whittle down and know how many people you need, what types of people you need so that you can go back to those individuals. Good people are busy, And you wanna give them enough time to be able to send those things in in a timely fashion.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:31:04]:
The personal statement and statement of purpose can take some time. Make sure to take the time. Take the time to do those well. Don’t just rush through and and kind of just Put a half effort into putting the personal statement together, really think about it, delve deeply, even outline what you wanna say and then systematically send that in because you want to put your best foot forward When you’re putting that statement in so people better understand who you are and why you want to do this. Again, the test scores, we talked about those in the application fee. Couple of things here. As you get down here to number 6 and you’re submitting that your application, you’re going to start getting app you’re going to start getting emails from the institution. The emails from the institution are going to be sent to the email that you have placed specifically on your application.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:02]:
So make sure that when you are applying, that you’re using the email address that you check most often and actually go and check your email. Because too often people apply and then they they’re only checking their email every so often and important emails are getting sent And they’re missing them. So make sure you’re using an email address that you constantly are looking at. When emails do come in, please read them. And if you need if there is a call to action, reply, reach out, And get your questions answered or answer the questions that are being asked of you so that you can move things forward in a timely fashion. Then once you’ve submitted, that’s when you have to wait for your decision. Waiting can be it can last a few weeks. It could be a few months.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:52]:
It really just depends on the program themselves. So each program is a little bit different when it comes to that. So it is important for you to be able to really look through the website and know what the what the program is specifically saying as it comes down to that. K. Next, we’re go let me just quickly talk a little bit about, test scores again. I talked about them a bit. Lots of different tests that are out there. Stand these are standardized tests that look at different factors of an individual, depends on the this test themselves.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:33:25]:
So I’d encourage you that if a If a program that you are planning to apply to is ex is requiring test scores that you are doing your research into the test so you better understand, take some sample practice test to be to better understand what the test looks like, what it feels like, What you’re going to need to be successful. There are many books out there for all of these different tests that will give you tips and tricks and things that you can do, But that’s important because you want to make sure that if if a if a program is requiring test scores, Then they may have minimum scores that you need. And if that’s the case, you wanna make sure you hit that minimum worry that you’re hitting above that minimum when you’re being considered. So as we’re looking at this, The transcripts, I talked about the fact that transcripts are going to be required. Some institutions are going to require you to send in all transcripts from any institution that you’ve ever attended. So that means everything back to the 1 class you took at the community college by your house To any 4 year institution transcripts, master’s degrees, other degrees, whatever it may be, Some institutions are going to require that you send in all. And then there’s others that will say, you only need to send us The transcripts from those institutions where you received an actual degree or transcripts where you took classes toward prerequisites for a specific program. So, again, each program, little bit different.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:35:03]:
You need to look and you need to say, Okay. What is required at that institution? At our institution, we are requiring transcripts. Those are gonna be required from us. At other institutions, oh, little bit different. So you wanna make sure that that you are planning on that. And if you wanna be safe, Just plan to send all your transcripts in, and and you can definitely do that, and that’s not gonna be a problem. As institutions are looking at transcripts. They’re typically going to look at your undergraduate GPA.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:35:35]:
If your transcript has to be evaluated by the institution And you’re an international student, sometimes they will look at your full undergraduate transcript or any graduate graduate courses that you’ve taken, Or they may look at the last 2 years. Every school is just gonna be a little bit different. So you have to, again, look at that. What GPA are they looking at to be able to consider you as well. Okay. The cost of graduate education. Now graduate education, graduate school can be expensive. It really comes down to the program and how long the program is.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:36:12]:
Some programs may be certificates, graduate certificates that you’re using to gain Some specific skills in specific areas. You get a certificate at the end that prepares you to be able to work in a specific area or to take those skills and And put them right into action. There are master’s degrees that are out there, lots of different types of master’s degrees That you can again, you’re you’re delving deep into a specific area to gain skills in that area. And then there is also going to be, there’s doctorate degrees. Now there’s clinical doctorate degrees. There’s also PhDs. So, every one is a little bit longer than another. You might be able to get done with a graduate certificate in 1 year, a master’s 3 and potentially 2 years, but then a a clinical doctor could be 3 years, a PhD could be 5 years.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:37:04]:
A lot of it just depends On the program themselves and how long it takes for you to be able to get research done if you’re in a research based program. The cost of graduate education should be very transparent on the websites that you’re reviewing, the institutions that you’re looking at. And as you’re looking at that, you’re going to need to factor in a lot of different factors. But, the cost of graduated education is not just the sticker price. It’s not just the tuition itself. You need to look at what are the fees that you are that the institution may charge you as well, Because, sometimes those can be a little hidden and you want to prepare yourself for that. Especially as a domestic student, and it should be very transparent in that regard. International students, there is typically going to be an institutional overall price That the that the international office at that institution will tell you that you have to show that you have in a bank account to be able to attend that institution.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:38:07]:
So let’s say it’s $30,000. If it’s $30,000 for the year, you have to be able to show that you have that in a bank account, prepared for paying for that 1st year of your graduate education. And that every year, they will have you recertify that you have the funds to be able to finish that program. Domestic students are are not required to show the same, but that is a requirement for international students across the board at every institution that I’ve ever seen. Now there are scholarships and financial aid, things that are available For domestic students as well as for international students, they are different, so you do have to keep that in mind. For domestic students, we do have the the FAFSA, The free application for federal student aid, you may have done that in your undergraduate degree. If you did that in your undergraduate degree, you know what that is is about. The application is open now for individuals that are looking to attend graduate school in 2024, 2025.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:39:06]:
The system is still having a little bit of hiccups because they they they launched a new system. But what from what we have been told, it is Fully working and everybody can submit those. I encourage all graduate student, all domestic graduate students to submit the FAFSA. Even if you think you’re not going to get anything, It at least gives you an opportunity to be able to be considered for scholarships or other financial aid that the institution may have That are that do require the FAFSA to be be to be submitted. So take the time, submit the FAFSA, no matter what school you’re going to to be able to at least get a better picture, whether that’s for loans, scholarships, etcetera. When you’re looking at scholarships, every institution is a little bit different. There are different scholarships that are available on our graduate programs website. You’re going to see there is a link right there that talks about paying for graduate school.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:40:00]:
In there, then you’ll see some different scholarships that are available. We have scholarships that are available for Domestic students, we have scholarships that are available for international students, and then there are external scholarships that are that at our institution that go through our financial aid office. So you apply separately through a separate scholarship application to be able to be considered for those scholarships. And those scholarships were set up typically with donors that have set up specific scholarships For specific reasons. So they could be a scholarship for a specific program, or you have to have some other factor in mind. Sometimes there are scholarships or, tuition reimbursement that is available through employers. So if you are currently employed and you’re looking at going to grad graduate school and you’re looking at doing something That would amplify the work that you’re doing. Talk to your employer about it and find out whether your employee, Whether you as an employee, you have access to any type of tuition reimbursement because you might be surprised.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:41:09]:
Now it may not be A 100%. It could be for 1 class every term, but that’s something and it pays for something as well. So I encourage you to look at that as well. So there are lots of other external scholarship engines out there as well that have scholarships. Many of these you may have heard of and you may have thought of when you’re when especially if you were an undergraduate student in the United States, Many students take advantage of things like Fastweb or CapEx or Unigo. I mean, there’s lots of different scholarship engines that are out there, But there are graduate student scholarships that are out there that students don’t always take advantage of. So I always encourage students to take a look at these. You may or you may not find scholarships that meet your needs, But it can’t hurt to if you have the time to go in, create the profile for yourself, and do a search And see whether there may be some things in there for yourself as well.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:42:09]:
There’s also assistantships at the graduate level. There are assistantships at different schools and they look different in different schools as well. Some are research assistantships, so where you will work with a faculty member and do specific research in that area. A lot of times with those, you’re there may be an application process or a a type of a HR process that you go through to be able to be considered For that, so you’re applying almost for a job in that sense. There are teaching assistantships. And sometimes, Depending on the program that you’re in, you may be required to be a TA. And if you’re in a PhD program in a specific academic Yeah. They may use TAs to teach some recitation sessions or working with undergraduate students in some way.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:43:00]:
So The nice thing about assistantships is that they are paying you along the way. Some assistantships may pay tuition as well Depending on how many hours a week that you’re working. And then there’s other academic programs that are built off of assistantships as well, where They may require every student to have an assistantship. And if you don’t have an assistantship, you may not be accepted into the program. So All of those things are, again, unique to every program and you need to do your research to delve a little bit deeper. At our institution, our research, our assistantships are research assistantships. So it’s a a a job that you apply for, and it’s an hourly wage, and you typically are going to be doing research Up to about it’s usually about 10 hours a week, and then you get paid for that. And so you’ll be getting some money back throughout the year to pay for some of your expenses.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:43:57]:
It’s not gonna pay off your entire education, but it may pay off Some of your other bills or do help you to be able to offset costs along the way. Couple other things just to think about when you’re thinking about graduate education, You wanna make sure that you’re managing your finances and budgeting for graduate school. You wanna prepare yourself for what it’s going to be like to be a graduate student, especially if you’re a full time graduate student because, you are going to be putting your time, your effort into that. And a lot of times, if you’re a full time graduate student, There’s not time to work outside of of class or very little time to work outside of class. So that being said, you wanna make sure that you’re setting a budget for yourself, taking a look at, okay, what are my expenses and how will I be able to take care of those expenses? If you’re looking at part time, it may not be a factor because you’ll be working and you’ll be taking classes at the same time. You also wanna make sure that you’re building good credit while you’re in school. You wanna make sure you’re paying off your credit card balances. Don’t hold off.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:45:01]:
You wanna Make sure that you are dealing with those issues as you’re going through and not holding off because you’re also taking loans out or you’re also trying to pay off the School, you want to stay stay good in that regard. You can the nice thing is you can check your credit every 12 months through a service called annual credit check check annual credit report .com, and that is something that you can take advantage of. You also if you are a domestic student and you’re getting student loans, through one of the loan processors, you do wanna make sure that you’re managing that along the way and you understand what you are taking out And what you are if you’re paying as you go along, what you’re paying down, and all of that’s just really important for you to keep in mind. Part time employment, As long as you are not a full time student, most students can handle part time work, while they’re going through graduate school. But You have to also look at your program because some programs will say you are not allowed to work while you’re in this program. And If that’s the case, you have to know that. So just keep that in mind and, again, things to look at. Letters of recommendation.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:46:14]:
Let me just kinda put up a couple of things. You wanna make sure that you have strong letters of recommendation. So you don’t you wanna have people that really know you. You want to find individuals that can speak positively about you But have known you for a a longer period of time. You wanna make sure that they could speak to your strengths as they relate to the program and why you would be a good fit for the program, and someone that has had enough experiences that they could talk about those experiences and what they’ve seen about you and what makes you stand out. So make sure that if and when you are going to be thinking about and talking and working with Individuals that are planning to go to graduate or not planning to be a recommender for you for graduate school that you Get their permission before you put their name down, that you inform them when you’re putting their name down, and then you stay in touch. And if graduate school may be a few years off and you have some some people that you know are going to be recommenders, Stay in touch with them. Keep them up to date on what’s going on with you.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:47:25]:
Let them know where you are in the process. Also, as you’re asking someone for letters of recommendation, if there are specific things that you want them to touch on, you can ask them to do that. You can say, I wanted to have you be a recommender for me because I know we did that great research project together, and I’d love for you to be able to Talk about that experience and be able to share that with the the program that I’m applying to. You can ask that. Now They’re still gonna write it in the way that they wanna write it and you can’t influence that, but you can ask them to touch on specific points. If you know that the program is looking for specific things, you can share that with them as well and give them the information that they need to also give get you, give you a good recommendation. A couple other things. These are just so a couple things for you to think about as you’re providing, what you should provide your recommenders.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:48:22]:
So couple things that you wanna think about as you’re putting together a personal statement. Every personal statement is a little bit unique. So what I am sharing with you is in general, some things that you need to be thinking about. But again, you need to be thinking about The things that are going to set you apart, the things that are going to allow the program to get a better feel for you, but And also know that many of these personal statements are going to be either word bound, meaning that you have a certain number of words that you are able to, used to be able to prepare. So they might say, in 500 words, answer this question. Or You have up to 750 words or a 1000 words, whatever it may be. So these are all different things to think about as you’re thinking about that And things that you should be considering as you are preparing for applying for grad school. Couple other things, just some tips For writing statements, don’t try to throw everything in the kitchen sink into your personal statement, especially if they are asking for, your resume.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:49:29]:
You don’t have to rewrite your resume in your personal statement. So find a few points to emphasize about yourself And talk about your strengths and be precise, be specific, but be brief as well because a lot of times you will have only a certain number of words. You definitely wanna do your research about the program, know the program forwards and backwards, understand the what the program is offering you, but what they want students to do in the program, what the outcomes of the program are, and what the program wants students To be able to achieve once they leave the program as well, because it is going to be important for you to be able to, to touch on that. And you don’t want to go in and write something that makes you seem like you haven’t done your research in that sense. If you feel that you have any type of gaps or discrepancies, anything that people you think are going to question, You want to make sure that you that you touch on those and that you are answering those and being upfront and honest about that. Striking the right tone and having a strong entry finish to your personal statement is important. And probably most important, I can leave you with anything, is to proofread once, proofread twice, proofread a 3rd time. Make sure that you read it Read it out loud.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:50:55]:
Read it to someone else just to make sure that what you’re going to be submitting makes sense. Because too often, if you are making mistakes or if you’re not proofreading, there will be errors and and that reflects on you as well. Interviews, Lots of times interviews can show up in different ways. They can be single person interviews where you’re showing up and they bring you into a room and you’re talking to another person, And that can be virtual or in person. It could also be a group interview where 3 people, 4 people all come together and there’s a panel of people in front of you. They’re asking a similar question to every student, and then you have to be able to answer those 2, and you’re being evaluated With other individuals that are being evaluated at the same time. The questions that you’re typically going to get are a mix of kind of specialized question about The subject area that you’re interested in, but also are going to look at things about you and allowing the program to get to know you as an individual. Because it’s an the interview typically is going to be an opportunity for the program to get a, to get to know you better, But also allow for you to get to know the program better as well.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:52:07]:
So couple different outcomes when it comes to admission. You can get accepted. You can get denied, but you can also get wait listed. Wait listed typically means that you’re going to, If you, don’t get accepted right away, they will consider you down the road or you might get wait listed because they’ve Provided out a certain number of of seats or they’ve they’ve offered all the seats out and they’re seeing if people accept them. And if they don’t, they may go to the wait list. So every program is a little bit different. Couple things that you wanna always make sure you do when you get that acceptance letter is If they’re asking for a response, you reply to that either to the email or if it’s in an online system Where they ask you to say, yes, I’m accepting. No.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:52:54]:
I’m not accepting. Let the program know. Don’t just disappear because the program is going to follow-up with you. So if you’ve been accepted to a program and the program’s emailing you and saying, What’s your plan? Just reply. If you’ve decided not to go there, that’s fine. Let them know so that they then can plan for the future because many times they’ve offered you a seat and they may have not offered a seat to someone else because they’ve offered you a seat. So if you plan to if your plans have changed, if you’re planning to go somewhere else, reach back out to the office of Admissions or the like, in our in our case here at the University of Michigan Flint, the office of graduate programs, and say, you know what? My plans have changed. I’m planning to go to this institution.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:53:42]:
You know, this is why I chose to leave, and, you know, thanks for the opportunity. And just be pleasant, be open, And then the office will cancel your application, withdraw your application, and let the program know so that they can move on to the next person. Okay. Some programs will have deposits. Make sure that if there is a deposit that you pay that. And a lot of times, there is a deadline to pay that deposit, So you want to watch that as well. We want you to be successful, and we want you to find success in the graduate school journey no matter where you’re going. So encourage you to reach out and to and I appreciate you being here today.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:54:21]:
The University of Michigan Flint has a full We have masters and doctorate programs if you are interested in continuing your education. Whether you’re looking for in person or online learning the University of Michigan Flint has programs that will meet your needs. For more information on any of our graduate programs, visit umflint doteduforward/graduateprograms to find out more. Thanks again for spending time with me as You prepare to be a victor in grad school. I look forward to speaking with you again soon as we embark together on your graduate school journey. If you have any questions or want to reach out, email me at [email protected].