As a senior at Miami University, graduation is no longer a distant horizon for Taylor Reid. Though two semesters and many requirements still lie between him and his degree, he has already begun preparing for what is to come next: graduate school.
Reid is not alone; last year, 21 percent of graduates at Miami said they intended on pursuing a graduate degree in the following year, according to a report by the Office of Institutional Research.
In the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), this rate is even higher: 43 percent of students on average go on to graduate programs according to the CAS web page.
However, the road to grad school is a long one, and the decision to pursue a graduate degree should not be taken lightly, Cathy Moore, associate director of Career Services said.
If students opt to go the grad school route, Career Services offers many resources, both in print and online to help students with researching and picking a program, according to Moore.
“We can also help them with writing their personal statements [for their applications] and getting recommendation letters from faculty,” Moore said.
However, when it comes to preparing for the standardized tests required for most programs, the university provides little assistance, according to Moore and Tim Kresse, director of budget and technology for Student Affairs. The most common of these exams is the GRE (or Graduate Record Examination), required by 69 percent of graduate programs according to the Educational Testing Service. MCATs, for admission to medical schools, LSATs, for admission to law schools and GRE Subject Tests are all commonly required exams as well.
Kresse oversees the administration of these tests on Miami’s campus and said he encourages students to be sure of which exam they are required to take.
“It gets a lot more decentralized when you get to the graduate level,” Kresse said. “Different programs within an institution may have different requirements.”
But students will have to look outside the university to find assistance in preparing for the GRE and other exams.
When Reid was preparing to take the GRE in August, the only help he found was in a book his friend loaned him.
“I wasn’t offered any help,” Reid said. “But I didn’t really seek any either.”
Senior Caitlyn Alley also went through the process of taking the exam with no university guidance.
“I just used to the free resources on the GRE website,” Alley said. “But I didn’t ask for help from the university at all.”
However, students are not entirely on their own. For a price, Kaplan Test Prep and Princeton Review offer students a variety of materials, practice tests and classes to walk them through their preparations for standardized exams. Both offer online resources, but only Kaplan has a local center in Oxford.
Becky Ostendorf is the area sales director for Kaplan Test Prep.
“In most cases, the test that you’re taking is the most important part of your application,” Ostendorf said.
Proper preparation is therefore absolutely crucial, according to Ostendorf. She recommends around two to three months of intentional preparation before attempting the test.
“You can’t just walk in and expect to do well,” Ostendorf said.
Once prepared, Miami students have several options for taking the GRE.
Those seeking to take the general test will have to go to a computer testing center, according the Kresse.
The full list of testing centers and their contact information is available on the GRE website. These centers are open year-round and offer tests daily based on availability.
Students wishing to take the general GRE can call their desired testing center to register. The closest one to Miami is in Blue Ash.
However, certain graduate programs require additional GRE Subject Tests, which test students’ knowledge in specific content areas such as psychology, literature, biology etc.
These are only offered in paper form at a limited number of testing sites throughout the country and the world. Miami University is one such site and students can register to take a GRE Subject test on campus Oct. 13, Nov. 10 and April 20.