Stepping off that stage with your degree or diploma in hand can be one of the proudest, and most daunting, of your life. Especially when you’re faced with the seemingly unanswerable question: Now what?!
Truth is, you’ve got so many paths in front of you that it can seem impossible to make the right choice.
You can take that eye-opening year off to go in search of yourself, dive straight in to hatching your career, or you can continue your education at college or university.
Courtney Cameron is a recent graduate of McMaster University who chose to take her university degree to the next level by applying for a Masters in Anthropology at Carleton University.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to grad school?
A: I had a couple of reasons for taking the grad school route.
I genuinely enjoy learning and I’m interested in further exploration in anthropology. I’m also very excited at the prospect of being able to do original research.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I also applied because of the sheer number of people entering the job market with Bachelor’s degrees. I wanted a way to differentiate myself when it does come time for me to embark on my job search.
Q: What’s your favourite part about grad school so far?
A: My favourite thing about grad school so far has been the learning environment.
The discussions and debates are so valuable because you get to hear people with diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives weigh in on topics that you are interested in.
Q: Do you have to become a teaching assistant?
A: Upon getting my offer of admission, I was lucky enough to receive a TA position. I’m very glad I was, it’s a great job and I find it super fun and rewarding.
It can be a lot of work, especially when you get a big stack of papers to grade, but overall it’s very manageable time-wise and can even help your own studies.
Q: Any tips for getting those all-important reference letters?
A: The best tip I have for applying to grad school is to find great referees.
I had two absolutely amazing people write my reference letters. I have no doubt that my reference letters were probably the main reason I got into the schools that I did.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when it comes to finding a great referee:
– Have you taken many classes with this professor?
– Do you know them personally? Would they know your name in a classroom full of people?
– How many classes have you taken with this person? Have you volunteered with their research efforts?
If your professor is a heavy-hitter in your discipline then this will be a great asset to your reference letter. The most important thing, however, is that they care enough to write you a great letter for your application.