Graduate School

Am I ready for Graduate School?

Importance of going to Graduate School

Graduate School: Now or Later?

Are you financially prepared to go to Graduate School?

What do I need to apply to Graduate School?

Standardised Admissions Examinations

Transcript

Interviews

Letters of Recommendation

Admissions Essays

Graduate Schools that have enrolled Ashesi Alumni

Other Resources

 

Am I ready for Graduate School?

While Ashesi does not yet offer graduate courses, we are committed to providing the necessary guidance to alumni who are considering entering graduate school. It is our goal to ensure that our alumni are well equipped for graduate studies. Alumni have the opportunity to meet a career counsellor for guidance and tips on how to prepare for graduate school. Going to graduate school is a big move for a lot of people after receiving their undergraduate certificate.

These are ways in which the Career Services Centre can help you prepare for graduate school:

• Provide help in answering the question, “Am I ready for graduate school?”

• Offer skills assessment to help you identify the right program of study

• Host Information sessions by some selected graduate schools

• Make available resources to help you prepare for GMAT and GRE

• Organize seminars on graduate school preparation

 

Importance of going to Graduate School

The importance of acquiring a graduate degree differs from person to person. For most people however it is important for the following reasons:

Career Goal:

Pursuing just any graduate degree programme may not be useful for you in progressing your career. In choosing a graduate degree programme, you need to be careful and ensure that it contributes towards your career. If you happen to be in a dilemma as to what your career goals are, going to graduate school might be a waste of time and money. Instead take time to think through what you really want to do and then work towards it. In some cases some careers may require advanced degrees such as lawyers and doctors. If you do not make the right decisions at the right time in your life, you may end up hurting yourself. Making a decision to go back to school after acquiring the first degree is mainly dependant on what you intend to do with the graduate degree when you acquire it. If you do not find need of it, you will probably not be willing to go back to school as you would be if you knew exactly what you would do with the degree when you acquire it.

Compensation:

Another important reason why a lot of people may want to advance to graduate school is to earn more money than they have been. Studies have shown that people with advanced degrees earn more than people with bachelor’s degree on average. This also applies that people with a higher degree earn more on average than people with a lower degree. In addition, most employers would calculate salaries of employees using educational level as a basis, just as the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

Staying Marketable:

Looking for most entry level positions, you may not necessarily need a degree higher than an undergraduate degree. However to stay competitive and progressive, you may want to expand your knowledge base and in some cases even specialise as well as improve upon your training and skills. Also, an employer will be willing to take you on for a job which requires certain skill set and experiences that you have acquired while getting a post graduate degree which other people with an undergraduate degree may not have. This makes it necessary to acquire a graduate degree. This also helps you to change and solidify your career since you are more likely to get a graduate degree in something that you are interested in.

 

Graduate School: Now or Later?

This question about whether to go to graduate school immediately after an undergraduate degree programme or to go to graduate school after gaining some experience is a frequently asked question. The debate has been ongoing for a while. The answer is that it depends on exactly which programme you want to enter. Whereas for some programmes you need to have a minimum level of experience after an undergraduate school, for some programmes, you need close to no experience at all or even in some cases no experience at all to enter the programme. Below is a list of the reasons you may want to get a post graduate degree immediately after school or not.

Immediately after your bachelors degree Working for a while before graduate school

1 You are accustomed to being a student and have momentum Clear about your career goals/objectives

2 Your study skills are sharp Some graduate programmes may require experience

3 You have few obligations Go into the programme with a broader knowledge base and world view

4 The Job you require may demand an advanced level May appreciate and have a more matures outlook on school and work

5 You can have financial backing from parents/guardian Some employers would pay some or all of your graduate school expenses

6 You gain solid financial footing

7 Can increase your chance of getting into a programme especially if you were not the best student in your undergraduate course

Are you financially prepared to go to Graduate School?

More often than not, a large number of graduates after acquiring their first degree may end up not furthering their education because they cannot afford it or at least, think they cannot. Graduate programmes cost varies depending on which programme you are trying to get into. Interestingly, some of the schools that offer these programmes have financial aid programmes and they are accessible to people who meet certain requirements. Some graduate schools also have fellowships which provide some sort of financial aid. If you are employed however, you may want to talk to your employer about some tuition reimbursement programme that your company might have. If any of these things are not available, it does not mean that you should back out of a graduate programme. A well chosen programme is an investment in your future. You may even acquire a loan which you will pay back when you have become professionally established. You may want to choose an option that makes it possible for you to work and school at the same time so that you are able to pay your tuition while still in school.

What do I need to apply to Graduate School?

Typically, most graduate schools would ask for a number of things and you may have to go through several processes before you may enter graduate school. Some of the common steps to go through include taking the standardised tests which are commonly the Graduate Management Admissions Council Test (GMAT) and the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) which has become more common especially for people who want to go into business schools. Also for people going into law, you will be required to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and Medical College Admissions Test (MSAT) for people who want to pursue courses in the medical field. In addition to this, you may in some cases need a recommendation letter and an admissions essay stating why you should be selected for the programme. You will also need a certified copy of your transcript and may be invited for an interview or series of interviews.

 

Standardised Admissions Examinations

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

The GMAT® exam is the exam used to assess students who want to get into graduate management programmes. The test is designed with management faculty to measure the skills that students need to succeed in today’s challenging world. It is normally advised that, you take the GMAT while still in school since at the time learning comes easier than if you are out of school. The GMAT scores remain valid for 5 years within which you can actually prepare to go to graduate school. It is however not too late to take the test now. For more information, you can visit the website of the Graduate Management Admissions Council at http://www.gmac.com/gmac/thegmat/

The Graduate Records Examinations (GRE®)

The GRE is a revised general test which is an admissions test accepted by thousands of graduate and business school programmes worldwide. The test measures verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills acquired over time – skills that are not related to a specific field of study but may be important to your future. The GRE test score is also valid for 5 years hence you can take it now and make use of it later. For more information about the GRE, visit their website at www.takethegre.com/.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is a half-day standardised test administered 4 times a year at designated centres around the world. This test is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States and Canada and is quickly being accepted by other countries all over the world. However to practise in Ghana as a lawyer, you will be required to attend the Ghana Law School at Makola. For more information, please visit the LSAT website at www.Isac.org and the Ghana Law School website at http://www.gslaw.edu.gh/index.php.

The Medical College Admissions Test® (MCAT)

The MCAT is a standardised, multiple choice examination designed to assess the examinee’s problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Almost all US medical schools require applicants to take and submit the MCAT exam scores as part of their admissions process. This test is however valid only for a period of 3 years. Anyone who is preparing to apply for a health profession can sit for the MCAT. For further information visit the website at http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat.

 

Transcript

Obtaining a transcript to use as evidence in your graduate school application process can be sometimes stressful and frustrating. You may request for it but may not get it on time or you may forget to request for one on time etc. The truth is that the graduate school that you are applying to will not review an incomplete application no matter how small the item that has been omitted is. The application will not be complete until the institution receives your official transcript. Ideally, the transcript must be the official one bearing the seal of your undergraduate school. To avoid any problems that have to do with transcripts, always ensure that you request for your transcript on time. The committees will examine your transcripts based on

1. Your overall GPA

2. Quality of the undergraduate institution

3. The grades you acquired in your major subject areas

4. Patterns of improvement if you did not have a strong start.

 

Interviews

Not all graduate schools may require an interview. However, you should always prepare for one so that you will be prepared in the event you have to be interviewed. If you are called for an interview, it means that you have been shortlisted for the next stage of the selection process. The main aim of the interview is to permit members of the department that you are requesting to join to see and interact with you. What they want to know is whether you have what it takes to succeed in graduate school and in that profession. They need to know if you are matured and have good interpersonal skills, what your interests are, what motivates you and so on. They also want to know how well you can express yourself verbally, how well you manage stress and your ability to think on your feet.

How to prepare for the interview?

1. Learn about the programme and faculty. You must know and understand faculty research interest.

2. Review your own interests, goals, objectives, qualifications etc. Think about what makes you a good match for the programme.

3. Take the perspective of faculty members. What can you contribute to their graduate programme and research?

4. Anticipate questions and rehearse potential answers.

5. Schedule mock interviews.

6. Prepare intelligent questions to ask.

 

Letters of Recommendation

Almost all graduate schools will require a letter of recommendation from every candidate who applies to the school. Although your grades and test scores have a heavy weight in deciding your selection, your letter of recommendation could be a deciding factor in the admissions process. You may be required to submit 3 letters of recommendations mostly; could be more or less. The best persons to write your recommendation letter for you would be that person who knows you very well and can provide an accurate evaluation of your ability to perform and succeed at the graduate level. Recommendation letters are usually taken from your previous school, your place of work and a personal reference.

 

Admission Essays

A lot of students may not enjoy drafting their graduate admissions essay. Writing a statement that tells a graduate admissions committee all about you and can potentially make or break your application is stressful. The admissions essay will give the admissions committee a lot of information about you. This information will not be found anywhere else in your application process. Your admissions essay will explain who you are, your goals and the ways in which you match your graduate programme to the career path you are on or intend to take. You may in most cases be asked to comment on how your background has shaped your goals, describe an influential person or experience or discuss your ultimate career goals. Some schools may ask you to write a biographical statement, mostly referred to as the personal statement.

 

Graduate Schools that have enrolled Ashesi Alumni

1. Bristol University – Bristol, UK

2. Cass Business School – London, UK

3. Coventry University – Coventry, UK

4. Darden Business School – Charlottesville, VA, USA

5. Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) – Accra, Ghana

6. Holland Staffordshire University, UK

7. Hult International Business School – United Arab Emirates, Dubai

8. IE Business School – Madrid, Spain

9. Kings College – London, UK

10. Liverpool Jonmore University – Liverpool, UK

11. Middlesex University – London, UK

12. Nyenrode Business University – Breukelen, Netherlands

13. Queen Mary University of London – London, UK

14. Robert Gordon University – Aberdeen, UK

15. The University of York - York, North Yorkshire, England

16. University of Essex – Essex, UK

17. University of Exeter Business School – Exeter, UK

18. University of Ghana – Accra, Ghana

19. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

20. University of Leicester – Leicester, UK

21. University of Michigan – USA

22. University of Roehampton – London, United Kingdom

23. University of Surrey – Guildford, UK

24. University of Ulster - Northern Ireland, England

 

Other Graduate school resources

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