Starting graduate school can be a daunting task. There is a lot of contradicting information out there. Knowing where to start can be tough. This article addresses five of the most common misconceptions about graduate school.

There’s No Funding Available for Graduate School

Many people are unaware of all the funding options that are available to graduate students at IUP.  Funding options for graduate students include departmental scholarships and graduate assistantships. The best way to learn about these opportunities is to contact your program coordinator or visit the program website. Graduate assistantships are opportunities where the student works part-time, for their department or for another office on campus, in exchange for some amount of tuition coverage and a small stipend. Assistantships are highly competitive, so reaching out to your coordinator early is always a good idea. IUP awarded $5.2 million in assistantships and scholarships in 2021!

Another option is federal financial aid loans. These loans come from a separate batch of money than undergraduate loans; so even if you maxed out your undergraduate borrowing, you could still apply for graduate loans. If you plan on applying for federal loans, make sure to fill out your FAFSA as early as possible.

I Need to Be a Perfect Student to Be Admitted

Graduate Admissions at IUP reviews students on a holistic basis, meaning we look at more than just your GPA. While some departments have minimum GPA requirements, all students are afforded a thorough application review by their program. Work and volunteer history, undergraduate involvement, and résumés are all considered in your application review. We look closely at letters of recommendations and goal statements to understand who you are as a person and why you are interested in attending graduate school.

I Have to Take the GRE or the GMAT to be Considered

In reality, less than 15 percent of IUP’s extensive graduate options require you to provide test scores for consideration for admission. We understand that standardized testing is not the only representation of preparedness for graduate school. Our holistic review process considers academic and personal background when forwarding applications to programs for review. The graduate programs that do require standardized testing often do so as a starting point for preparing students for future licensing exams.

I Need to Pursue Graduate School Directly After College

It is very common for graduate students to have taken time off before returning to school. About half of all IUP’s graduate students have taken at least one year off after college before returning for graduate school. Our campus offers a variety of supports that can help you to transition back into the world of academics. Your academic advisor will be there to help you plan your courses and to make sure that you are taking classes in the appropriate order to achieve your degree. Offices like the Department for Disability Access and Advising and the Academic Success Center can provide services to help you on your way through your graduate degree. IUP also offers an Applied Research Lab that can help you with the research design and analysis needs of your project. The IUP Libraries host the Kathleen Jones White Writing Center, which can help you with your writing and citation skills.

I Can’t Attend Graduate School While Keeping my Full-Time Job

IUP offers graduate coursework in a variety of formats. Some programs are available in a completely online, asynchronous format. This means you can complete coursework in your own time. Other programs offer Zoom synchronous options, meaning that you videoconference into a scheduled class time. The last nontraditional option involves a hybrid combination of face-to-face and online formats. Many other degrees also offer courses on a part-time basis that may be more suitable for those with full-time jobs. Finally, some programs have classes that meet exclusively in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate students with daytime employment.