As a graduate student, besides attending classes you will be…

  • doing extensive reading and writing
  • making presentations in class and/or teaching courses
  • working closely with faculty and students
  • engaging in a variety of research activities
  • gaining related work experience

Think about who you are and what you are like as a student:

  • Do you enjoy writing, research, having intellectual discussions and arguing about ideas?
  • Are you bright, hard working, attentive to detail, creative, and organized?
  • Are you determined, persistent and self-motivated?
  • How do you honestly rate yourself as a student? Are you in the top 5%, 10%, or 15% of your class?

Think about your career objectives and goals:

  • What type of work do you want to do after graduation?
  • What kind of graduate program will prepare you to do the work you want to do?
  • What are you looking for in a graduate program that will help you achieve your objectives?
  • Ideally, who would you like to study with or where would you like to go?

Do You Have What It Takes?

Here is a list of some of the personal characteristics of successful graduate students. Which apply to you?


personal stamina

detail oriented
interpersonal skills

Self Evaluation

Before you start searching for programs, it may be a good idea to review you values, interests, and skills and to identify some of your accomplishments. Counselors in the Career Center can help you with this process. Seniors should complete the exercises in the Career Decisions Handbook. Copies are available in the Career Center.

During the application process, your motivations, personal characteristics, goals and career objectives, intellectual abilities, development and achievements as well as the decisions you’ve made that have affected the course of your life so far, will be factors that affect your choice of programs and your acceptance by them.

The more know yourself and the more you understand what you want from the graduate school experience, the easier it will be to identify programs that are right for you!

After you have had time to reflect and have completed the career planning guide, summarize what you are looking for in a graduate program.