Resources for applying to graduate school

Photo Credit: Korina Rojo - CU Sentry


Around this time every year, undergraduate students and alumni, including CU Denver students, are applying to a variety of different universities for their graduate programs and personal areas of interest.

As an undergrad, it’s more difficult to apply to graduate school than it was to apply for an undergraduate program as a senior in high school. As adults now, there’s so much more responsibility, which means time and money are more scarce and much more valuable.

There’s a lot to know before applying, and every university requires different things. Some require a high minimum score on the GRE exam with a certain score, while most require at least three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and college transcripts.

Stressful as it may seem, CU Denver offers a lot of support and resources to help guide students towards the right program. The Career Center is a great resource where students are able to meet with career counselors who can help them pick the right program and narrow down the grueling roster of schools to apply to.

Career counselor Enrique Villarreal helps students every day with their application process by having conversations with them to figure out their game plan. Students often come to the Career Center with questions and concerns about graduate school, mostly seeking help with the overall application process.

“They haven’t really sat down to plan it out,” Villarreal said. “Once they have, it becomes much easier for them. It’s about getting people motivated.”

Graduate student Claire Shannon had graduated from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo for at least a year and a half before applying to graduate school, and as much as she hated taking the GRE exam, she’s grateful for all the things she did, including talking to her own career counselor.

“I’m glad I spent time researching individual programs,” Shannon, who spoke with students from the CU Denver Communications Department before applying, said. “You get a better sense of the personality and culture of the departments you’re applying to.”

Both Shannon and Villarreal agree that talking to staff members, alumni, or current students of the desired program is the best way to get a better understanding of the department’s vibe.

“Graduate school is a big commitment,” Shannon said. “Get yourself out there as much as you can. I made connections with people, I made myself known [at CU Denver] as I was applying.”

Shannon reached out the Communications departments for all three graduate schools she applied to, and was impressed by the immediacy and interest the programs had in her. The other universities took a long time to respond back and weren’t as invested in answering Shannon’s questions.

“CU’s Communications department culture was very interested and were enthusiastic,” Shannon said. “It was super helpful making as many connections as I can.”

As students start stressing out about graduate school, Villarreal suggests students find at least five different colleges and programs they’re interested in and create a list of questions to help identify whether the program is right for them and if the university is a good fit. “Talk to people you trust and want you to grow,” Villarreal said.

The Career Center will be hosting two workshops to help with graduate applications:

Choosing a grad school: on Oct. 19 from 3:30-4:30.
Grad school preparation: on Oct. 26 from 3:30-4:30.

For more information visit their website: The Career Center
Photo Credit: Korina Rojo – CU Sentry

Dilkush Khan
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