Senior Steps

Chrissy Faistl

Thinking about life after Villanova may spark a whirlwind of questions about the future. One possibility that inevitably crosses many Villanovans’ minds is graduate school. Once you reach this point, a myriad of other questions starts to form. Should you attend graduate school now? Should you wait? Will you be able to afford it?

The first step is to figure out when you want to attend. Does your career require an advanced degree or are you just enthusiastic about continuing your education? Will a degree place you at an advantage in your quest for a higher salary or job placement? Once you decide when you want to pursue graduate school, you must then choose a field of study. Consider your interests and your career options then speak with the faculty at Villanova and get their input.

Once you have decided what you will be studying, then you must choose a school. This can be difficult. What region would you like to relocate to? What options are there in the area that you currently live? What schools have good programs in the area that you wish to concentrate ? In order to answer some of these questions, you need to do some research. Look on the web and talk to the program directors at the different schools.

Again, don’t forget to talk with your professors; they may have connections to certain schools. Attend an open house. The graduate program may have an open house to meet students and faculty in your program of interest. You can also find invaluable information about relocating, the job market and online information that will keep you connected after the open house is over.

Now that you have decided where to go, how are you going to pay for it? Graduate school can be expensive, but here is some really important information … you can go for free! Yes, there are several ways that the graduate school costs can be virtually eliminated, but it takes research and determination on your part. Ask questions about financial aid and opportunities to work at the school. Here are some things to ask about:

* Graduate assistantships are available to students working towards a master’s or doctoral degree. There are several different forms of assistantships available. Duties may include office work, assisting students, assisting professors or special projects assigned during your term as a graduate assistant. Research assistants, a type of graduate assistant, are usually working on a particular project and working closely with a professor. Finally, there are opportunities as teaching assistants. For your work as a graduate assistant, you may be able to receive free tuition, plus a stipend to help with living costs. These are great opportunities and it is worth every minute of your time to research them.

* Graduate fellowships are forms of aid that help students pay for their education. Unlike loans, they do not have to be repaid. By researching the graduate school program, you may find available fellowships. You may also want to research any honor societies, fraternities or sororities that you may be a part of. There are hundreds of fellowships available each year for members pursuing higher education degrees.

* Your employer may also be able to help. Research the benefits of your place of employment, as they may offer employees tuition remission. Going to school while working isn’t easy, but it can be done! Plus, you are getting the degree and the paycheck.

Finally, don’t forget to consult Career Services here at Villanova. Set up an appointment with a career counselor and pick up the resources that they have available regarding graduate school entrance exams and timelines for attending school. Good luck!