Thinking about Graduate School?

What Now?
Some Ideas about Graduate School – or Is Graduate School for You?

Okay. Now you have completed your undergraduate work. Should you go to graduate school?

#1: Decide. Is graduate school the only route for you? Now’s the time to decide where you want your career to go. Do you need additional courses in order to get the job you want? If so, graduate school may be your next step.

#2. Research. There are some websites listed below this article that can help you focus in on which graduate school you want to attend. Do you want to attend in person? Do you want to take courses online? Each option is just fine, and very much a personal choice.

#3. Decide what kind of school to attend – online or in person. A lot depends on your schedule and preferences, as well as your personal learning style. Some people are very self-motivated and find it easy to keep ahead with assignments online. Others find it easier to listen to in-person teachers.

#4. Contact your local College or University financial aid office. You can also find out what subjects are available there and what kind of aid they offer. Are the graduate classes what you have in mind? If not, you may have to consider taking online classes, or moving your residence to be near a graduate school in your chosen field.

#5. Consult financial aid websites.
The Old Faithful, of course, is the FAFSA site run by the U.S. Government. You CAN get financial aid here for graduate school, as well as undergraduate money. Check here first. Here is the link:

#6. Look at a good scholarship or grant search site.
When I go to search for grants, fellowships, and more, my favorite site is the Dr. Torres site. They concentrate on graduate money. Here is that site:


If you have not already gone there, the Scholarships Site at the Nontrads page can help, too. There are many FREE links there to help you find money for graduate school. Here is that link:

Also, you can join the Nontrads group on Yahoo. There are several students there who are right now getting ready for grad school. You can ask questions there and get good answers from real students. Here is where you can join:

Good luck, nontrad grad students!

More links about graduate school to explore:
Considering Graduate School?
Five questions to ask…
Find your graduate school at the Peterson’s site
Hints on how to apply to graduate school
From the William and Mary website
About Graduate School -- From the Princeton Review


  1. Anonymous4:54 PM

    This is really great information! Thanks for sharing and I will be sure to check out those links you provided.


    Are you at the ABD destination in your program?

    There are two types of Ph.D. candidates that fall into this category:

    1) The "just arrived" and anxious to move forward.

    2) The "been there for awhile" and think they will never move forward.

    While both types may need help to move on, it is the latter that is likely to derive the most benefit from this article and become motivated to complete, perhaps, the most important event in their life.

    You are intelligent enough to have come this far, there is no reason (from an academic stand point) to linger in the "ABD Zone." The longer you are there, the more difficult it becomes to pick up the pieces and move forward.

    A qualified and experienced consultant who works with Ph.D candidates understands the special circumstances that can lead to ABD status (e.g. hectic fulltime job, family, and other personal issues). The question is, how do you find a qualified consultant?

    The best way to get started is with a phone call to a consultant and ask the question: "How can you help me move beyond the ABD level and complete my Ph.D. program"?

    For many doctoral students, the most rigorous parts of a quantitative or mixed-methods dissertation are:

    1) Methods Section

    Study Design
    Research questions and hypothesis formulation
    Development of instrumentation
    Describing the independent and dependent variables
    Writing the data analysis plan
    Performing a Power Analysis to justify the sample size and writing about it

    2) Results Section

    Performing the Data Analysis
    Understanding the analysis results
    Reporting the results.
    Many Ph.D. candidates seem to hit a brick wall and feel disarmed when called upon to work on the "methods" and "results" section of their dissertation. This is the point where many students diligently search for help calling on their mentor, peers, university assistance and even Google. This is also the time when the student may ask themselves the question "HOW MUCH HELP IS TOO MUCH"?

    Surely no one will deny that having your dissertation written for you is very wrong. On the other hand, it is not unusual for doctoral students to get help on specific aspects of their dissertation (e.g. APA formatting and editing). It is also not unusual for advisors to encourage students to seek outside help with the statistical aspects of their dissertation.

    As a distance learning student it is almost essential you seek outside assistance for the methods and results section of your dissertation. The very nature of distance learning suggests the need for not only outside help but help from someone gifted in explaining highly technical concepts in understandable language by telephone and e-mail.

    The ideal time to begin working with a statistical consultant is once you have a topic and you have done some preliminary literature review. Otherwise, you run the risk of unnecessarily complicating your study. This could result in the consultant being unable to help you, unless you are willing to start over with the problem statement, purpose of the study, research questions, instrumentation and data analysis plan.

    As stated above, many students hit their dissertation "brick wall" when they encounter the statistical considerations. Frequently, a student will struggle for months before they seek a consultant to help them. This often leads to additional tuition costs and missed graduation dates. (The number of Ph.D candidates not completing their program is staggering)

    If I were to name a single reason why a Ph.D candidate, doing a quantitative or mixed-methods study gets off track in their program, it is the statistics and their fear of statistics. So, the question is whether or not it is ethical to get help at all. If so, how much help is too much?

    I don't know if there has ever been a survey of dissertation committee members who were asked this question, however, I know many advisors take the following position when they suggest or approve outside help:

    To a large extent the process is self controlling. If the student relies too much on a consultant, the product may look good, however, the student will be unable to defend his/her dissertation.

    It takes a committed effort on the part of the student and the consultant (resulting in a collaborative/teaching exchange) to have the student responsible for the data and thoroughly understand the statistics. This is not accomplished in just one or two emails or a single telephone conversation. It is a dynamic process; one that calls for unending patience on the consultants part and perseverance on the students part.

    The day the student walks in front of the committee to defend, there should be no question as to his/her understanding of statistics. It is the consultant’s job to see to it this occurs.

    When their defense is successful, the question "was the help too much" is answered.

    If you are a Ph.D candidate and would like additional information, you may wish to review the referenced sites below:


    Reference sites:

  3. Thank you, Miss S. I appreciate that!

  4. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

  5. A great way for a non traditional student (especially FT working adults) to get a feel for graduate school is to visit a class. Simply ask the admissions contact at a school to see if it's possible. This is very useful for students who haven't been to school in 10-30 years and are somewhat anxious about entering a program.

    University of New Haven
    Graduate Programs for Working Adults

  6. What a terrific idea, Monica! I may do a blog about this now. Thank you.


Please add your comment. I would love that! :-)