Ahead of my last year at U of T, I decided to apply to graduate schools in the fall. At first, I thought that I was going to apply to graduate studies in English literature, but I had decided against it a few months before and thought I’d try to get a job right after I graduated. But the summer before my fifth year, I decided that I didn’t have the skills I needed to get the jobs I wanted, so I needed to get some further education under my belt.
I started by researching programs. I knew that I wanted to study either publishing, journalism, or information sciences. After a thorough Google search that narrowed down some of my options, I started off by talking to people. I looked on social media – especially LinkedIn – to find graduates and look at their resumes. I also got in touch with admissions representatives at the different schools, who suggested events to attend and set up meetings with me to answer my questions.
After I did my initial information-gathering, I narrowed down which schools I wanted to apply to and made a spreadsheet with deadlines and admissions requirements for each. I then set a schedule for completing applications. I also contacted my references early, and stayed in touch with them frequently throughout the application process to keep them posted on my progress.
The first letter of intent I wrote was the longest one I had to write, which I then brought to my college’s writing centre. A professor there talked to me about my reasons for applying for graduate school and walked through the letter with me, offering lots of great edits and suggestions. I used that letter as a template for the rest of my applications.
As I worked on my applications, I continued to liaise with my references and attend events for prospective students at the schools I was applying to. I got in touch with professors at the schools to see if their work interested me. By the time I was done applying, I knew which school was my number one choice. Spoiler alert: it was U of T, and here I am!
What I learned during the process of applying to grad school was to try your best to spread out the work so that it never gets too overwhelming, to talk to your references early and often, and to do as much research as you can to find the program that’s right for you. You should take into account not just academic considerations, but also your long-term career goals and financial and personal factors.
And of course, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support – whether it’s friends or family, the institutions you’re applying to, or U of T’s Career Centre, Academic Success Centre, writing centres, Health and Wellness Centre, and more. There are plenty of people who can help you along the way to get into schools and choose the right one for you.
Are you considering further education? This week is Further Education Week at the Career Centre! Check out their lineup of events at this link. Plus, check out this helpful information page about further education from their website.
Got questions about applying to grad school? Chat with me in the comments below!