Guide to Grad School from an Undergrad

Guide to Grad School from an Undergrad

Jan 6
Sara Tondini, Animal Sciences graduate student

1) GRE - Does it matter? Yes and no. There is no minimum GRE score needed to get into graduate school. An average score suffices for the application process. If you're trying to get a fellowship, then your GPA and GRE score play off each other to determine if you meet the criteria. In this case, a well-above-average score is usually needed. Also, take the GRE early in case you want to take it again, and study right the first time so you don't have to take it again. :)

2) Network - Even if you are accepted into grad school, you still need a professor willing to let you work in their lab. Talk to everyone. Narrow down your interests, but don't be afraid to reach out to professors you've not talked to before. If you share a common goal and interest, most of the time, they're glad to meet with you. They might even give you a few more names to talk to.

3) Do your research - If you're going to interview with a professor about joining in on their research, then you should probably know a little bit about the research they do. Academic papers seem scary and have lots of words you're not going to understand, but do your best to get a good idea.

4) Ask questions - While doing your research for the interview, you'll have about a thousand questions. Don't be afraid to ask them. I used to think this would lead the professor to believe that I wasn't smart enough to understand the material, but they don't expect you to understand everything. That's why you're going to grad school. You have a lot left to learn! Questions mean you're inquisitive and interested in their work. Ask away!

5) Don’t get discouraged - Exhaust all your options. Things may not work out exactly the way you planned. During my ongoing journey, lots of unexpected things have happened. Doors have opened and closed. New acquaintances have been found. Sacrifices have been made, and I still don't really know where I'm going to be next fall. The whole process has helped me understand that the unknown is not the scary part. It’s the part that keeps you going.

Sara in the lab
Conducting lab analysis during an internship my junior year. This opportunity solidified my interest in research and started my pursuit to grad school.