Applying to graduate school is a difficult endeavor that requires dedicated work over a long period. The application process actually begins with grades from the first quarter of freshman year. It is never too early to begin thinking about graduate school and preparing yourself to be a strong candidate.
Students who wish to go to graduate school should first think about their long-term career goals. Once they have identified the career they are interested in, they should meet with professionals in that career and discuss their educational background. For instance, if students are interested in working as a GIS specialist, they should meet with one to discuss their career, their graduate preparation, their daily life, the challenges in their work and their favorite parts of their job. If a student is having difficulty identifying a career or a professional, they should meet with an adviser in the Geography Advising office.
Any graduate student will tell you that grad school is hard work. Generally students work more than 50 hours a week on preparing for classes, writing papers, conducting research, teaching classes, writing a thesis or dissertation, and many hold part-time jobs or assistantships. To complete a masters program, most full-time students take two to three years. Ph.D. programs will take anywhere from five to ten years in the U.S. Students should only begin a graduate school program if they intend to complete the program and they are sure that their program is the correct one for their aspirations.