Decide on Graduate School

When deciding on graduate school, answer the following:     

  • Do you have a clear idea of the career you want to pursue? Does it require an advanced degree?
  • How likely are you to find gainful employment in your chosen graduate field? (research employment trends)
  • How will you afford to pay for graduate school?
  • Why graduate school? Who is motivating you to attend?
  • What are the admission requirements?
  • Look at the curriculum. Is it interesting to you? (most schools post their requirements)
  • Is the graduate track full-time only, or are you allowed to go part-time if you need to work as well?

Having trouble? Not sure? Career Education is here! We are happy to talk with you about your plans and work on a solution that's best for you. 

Considerations while planning:

Research schools and programs

  • Petersons and the Graduate Guide are good places to start. Interested in Education programs?
  • Take a look at the U.S. News & World Report's lists of best graduates schools for business, law, medical, education, social sciences, public affairs, and many more!
  • Once you've narrowed it down, look at their application and course offerings. Does it seem interesting to you?
  • Which entrance exam is needed for your specific program?
  • What do they require for an application? Most want at least letters of recommendation, a personal statement, entrance exam scores, and an official transcript. Be sure to prepare accordingly and in advance.

Interested in graduate work in business? Hampden-Sydney partners with several business graduate programs to offer preferred applications to H-SC students. In other words, they like our students.

Entrance Exams

Several companies, such as Kaplan, offer test prep books and practice tests. Make time for these, and begin preparing a few months in advance. The Career Education Resource Library has several helpful books available for check-out. Stop by Bagby 213.

Test Preparation Services:

Princeton Review
(GMAT only)
Manhattan GMAT
GMAT PrepNow
GMAT Practice Prep - FREE test questions for prep
Test Masters (LSAT, GMAT, GRE)
GetPrepped (also offers scholarships for those applying to law school)
Veritas Prep (GMAT only, Law and Medical admissions consulting)
GrockIt (an online social network for test prep)
Blueprint LSAT Prep

*Remember prep classes can be costly. Do your research. Some companies offer private tutoring, but will be significantly more expensive.
Companies like Kaplan may offer financial aid and often have payment plans for costly in-class prep classes.

The Career Education and Vocational Reflection Office is able to offer limited financial assistance to students seeking to take an entrance exam for graduate school, or enroll in a prep course. Download the application here and return to the Career Education Office, Bagby 209. Applications are reviewed on an individual basis, and incomplete applications will not be accepted.

The GRE:

Entrance exams for specific programs:

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) - general
Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) - most business programs
Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) - law programs; administered at H-SC several times a year.
Medical School Admission Test (MCAT)
Dental Admission Test (DAT)
PRAXIS - education programs

Financial Aid

Check the school's website for specific information.

Specific Types of Financial Aid

Loans and Grants
Loans and grants come in a variety of denominations based on your demonstrated financial need and are available through state, Federal and private loans.  Educational loans are traditionally charged a lower interest rate and must be repaid.  Grants, however, do not have to be repaid and may not be available at all institutions. Federal Aid is received by completing the FAFSA. Check their website and with the school of your choice's financial aid office for the filing date. Apply early.

Most graduate programs offer scholarships for incoming and returning students.  Work with the Financial Aid Office at your respective institution to learn more.

Graduate and Research Assistantships
Graduate and Research Assistantships are excellent sources of income for students while providing relevant work experience.  Graduate and Research Assistants traditionally work within their program of study on a part-time basis either in a teaching or research capacity.  For more information about Assistantships, contact the office of your program of interest.

The Notification Process
Once you have completed and submitted your FAFSA, the information is then sent to your school(s) of choice.  (You will indicate your choices on your FAFSA.)  The institution will then review your records and determine what funding you are eligible to receive. All institutions have their own designated notification date.  If awarded, you will receive your notification in writing and it will include your academic year award package which is then distributed evenly over semesters or quarters.  You will also receive further instructions on accepting or declining the offer.

Planning Ahead
Your financial aid only covers the academic year and must be renewed annually.  A separate filing process is required for summer classes.  While it may be tempting to accept your entire award package, we encourage you to budget your expenses and determine a close estimate of your needs - for the upcoming year as well as any future years you will be enrolled in classes.  Remember, in many cases, you will have to repay your aid.

Loan Repayment
Most Federal programs allow students a six-month grace period upon graduation before going into repayment.  Should you take a leave of absence during your program, this grace period may take effect.  Take this into consideration and work closely with your institution's Financial Aid Office should changes occur with your enrollment.