“What Comes Next? Pieces of Advice” by Chris Hope

This is now my fourth year with 186 South College Ave. I have been with the blog since my freshman year and am now coming to the end of my senior year, and the question that always comes is “what are you doing next?” Everyone has their own path after graduating – whether that be immediately finding a job, being on the search for one, taking time off, or pursuing further education (my own path!). I wanted to take the opportunity, from my own experience applying to graduate programs earlier this year, to give some pieces of advice on the process.

Of course, the big question is where do you want to go? If you have any programs in mind specifically, be sure to look into those first and foremost, and get information on materials needed to apply and the relevant dates to keep in mind. If you are anything like how I was, you didn’t walk into the process with a list in mind; if that’s the case, think about what you want to study, and look into good programs that offer that field of study. Think about what you want to do with your degree too; while many universities will provide MA or PhD programs in the same fields, the material taught can often differ and may have different focuses. You can also narrow down your list based on where you want to be geographically: would you rather stay close to family? Do you want to stay at UD? Would you be able to get good experience in a specific place? All these questions can help you get more of a basis for your list. It can be helpful to think of why you chose UD for undergrad, whether that be due to the specific academic degrees or for other aspects like RSOs and the Honors Program.

Once you have a list of options, make sure to know important application dates. Many of the programs I applied to had deadlines in January, but there are also possible deadlines for if you’re seeking out specific aspects of a program. See if fellowships have the same due date, and see if the specific degree you’re seeking out has a different deadline from the university’s standard. With that said, it would be good to think of what places you’re interested in before senior year begins. In terms of how many places you should apply to, the choice is up to you! I applied to five programs and was given offers to each, however not all offers are the same – the more places you apply to, the more options you have in offers.

A large aspect of deciding on a program, for me, was the financial aspect. Look into whether the programs you’re applying for offer teaching assistantships or provide funding/stipends of some kind. Three of the five places I applied to offered such programs, and having those options allowed me to feel like I wasn’t being pigeonholed into settling for the only one to offer anything. Funding and TA positions can often have a different deadline from the standard one, so looking into that can help you to stay on top of your application.

Lastly, keep in contact with people from those programs! Whether they contact you first or you are the first to contact, putting yourself out there during the application process can be helpful. A couple of the programs I applied to specifically asked to hold interviews with me via Zoom, while many I reached out to ask questions regarding funding, course offerings, and general academic outlines. Even if you decide not to attend one of the places, reaching out like this can be a good experience and even net you some connections in a place you might be interested in in the future!

In all, the process can feel stressful at times, especially depending on your situation or how close deadlines might be. Try not to let it all consume you – give yourself a break from CV-making if you need it, give yourself time to sleep on decisions if you have it. I spent a couple weeks debating between programs before finally deciding on one, and even then I gave myself a day or so before officially hitting the “accept” button, just to be sure (since I had ample time before the deadline). I’m happy for the experiences I’ve had here at UD, with the Honors Program, and the RSOs I’ve taken part in, and I hope you can take something helpful from this. I’ll miss Newark, but I’m ready for whatever Columbus has in store for me.

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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations Chris!

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