As I am preparing for graduation in December 2013, and contemplating graduate school, I have spent a lot of time talking with my “faculty favorites” in the Agronomy Department. I am sure that I’m not the only undergrad who feels hostile towards graduate school, as well as feeling that it’s the only option. So, I’d like to share some advice that I’ve taken from these conversations with my mentors- know that this isn’t just a list from some website!
1st: What jobs are available without a master’s degree? And, what job do you not want.
2nd: Teaching, research, or both (because it is possible!)?
3rd: There are 3 things you must like before accepting an assistant-ship: the project, the person (major advisor), and the place. You need to be happy in order to get through 2+ years of graduate school!
4th: Be sure you know exactly what an assistant-ship entails.
5th: Make sure there is funding for you! In other words, do not make the move because you have been accepted and someone says they will work with you, but they don’t have a project or funding yet. (That’s project part of #3)
Another piece of advice that I would add: don’t wait until your last semester to figure out a plan! I know that time flies by, but this isn’t something that you want to be pressured about.