Sparky’s Quill: The Good, the Bad and the Grad (School)

Graduate with pride!

Graduate with pride!

Hey, everyone, it’s Holly! If you’re a senior (or even a junior) it’s about that time of year to start looking at graduate schools and send in applications. And what a time it is. Tom and I have been working on our own grad applications and it’s been a doozy. Here are a few tips to get you through the process:

1. Get organized. Don’t want to cry over everything you have to do? Make a list. While you’re at it, make three. One for your deadlines and due dates, one for the application requirements of each college, and one for things you’ve already got done. That last one is only there to make you feel better.

2. Letters of Recommendations (and how to ask your professors for a favor). This was the most nerve-wracking part of the entire experience. However, don’t stress. Most schools have a minimum of three letters of recommendations, so think about four professors (or even bosses or managers) that can speak for your academic or work experiences. Don’t ask TA’s or coworkers. The second obstacle is the asking. Make an appointment during their office hours (they’ll love that) and just get right to the point. Let them know what schools you’re applying to and what you’re going to study. The conversation will go on from there. Just make sure you’ve researched the schools and their programs well.

3. Talk about your dreams, not your experiences, in your personal statements. The school doesn’t care about what you’ve done; they can see all of that on your transcripts and resumes. Everyone has extracurriculars and an academic obstacle to overcome. Talk about your dreams. Talk about what you’re going to study and be as specific as possible. Tell them what you’ll contribute to their program and how you’ll use your masters degree. One-third of your statement should be about you, the other two-thirds should be about what you want to do. Good luck!

All that writing you did actually means something! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

All that writing you did actually means something! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hey guys, it’s Tom and it does not matter what year you are, it is never too soon to look to grad school. As our history professor Donald Fixico says, “Invest in your future.” Grad school is important in today’s society where college degrees are like high school diplomas. If you are a liberal arts major, grad school does seem necessary, but just know that your degree is just as important as science or business degrees. Yes that means you too, English majors. The skills you worked four years to develop are very important and very marketable. Critical thinking and writing skills will land you jobs in all kinds of fields and all kinds of pay ranges. Because lets face it making lots of money is very desirable.

The world is becoming saturated with business majors whose skills can easily be taught to someone who knows how to learn (*cough* liberal arts majors *cough*). Probably the best skill history majors and other liberal arts majors learn is the ability to learn well and fast.
Grad school is a way to use those skills and further your education. A masters degree or a Ph.D. will open up many different doors. If you love what you do, you really will not work a day in your life and that is better than a high paycheck with a job you hate. So be free, liberal arts majors, to live a wonderful life!

Have any historical questions? Drop us a line at sparkysquill@gmail.com or find us on twitter @sparkysquill.