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This is the last fall semester for seniors who will be graduating in the spring, but some of you may be considering graduate school for further education.

Graduate school sounds so daunting, and it truly is not for everyone. Part of what makes it so terrifying is that there is a lot of work that goes into it.

Most will have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which costs as much as a semester of textbooks when they run cheap, and will also have to find at least two or three professors who will be willing to write letters of recommendation for the applications. You will also need to write a personal statement or essay that lets the university get to know you.

The process does not have to be so complicated or scary. Take the time to research what sort of program you may be interested in and figure out if it is truly the best path for you. Do not apply to graduate school unless it will benefit you in your future career endeavors. It can end up being extra money and loans taken out that may be unnecessary.

Applying for graduate school can be more manageable if you pace out the work and set deadlines for yourself in the same way that you can manage your coursework. This method will also allow you to turn in a killer application, rather than one you punched out the night before the due date. It might let you scrape by with final grades, but it does not reflect well for getting into graduate school.

September should be the month that you figure out who you will ask for writing letters of recommendation. Ask your professors early on so that they have time to actually write them for you. Otherwise, they may not be so happy to oblige.

Just as you did for applying to undergraduate programs, graduate schools will ask for a personal essay or statement that explicates why you want to study in this field. Individual universities will outline what exactly they are looking for, and you should adhere to the guidelines in a way that allows them to still get to know you.

As well, take the time to study for the GRE. It is not something you can prepare for the night before, and you do not want to have to pay $205 more than once to spend five hours staring at an exam. Study tools are available online and through mobile apps, like Magoosh, and help with learning vocabulary that your degree has likely not made you familiar with.

Again, it does not have to be a horrible process. It will likely stress you out, and that is okay. Do the heavy work before the semester gets cranking, and do not leave all the work to be done around the same time as finals week. You will thank yourself when it is over.

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