Ten Great Resources For Going Back to School

schoolHigher education of any sort can be intimidating but when you throw in to the mix the fact that you aren’t a “spring chicken” anymore, the water feels pretty choppy. Being an older student who is returning back to school after a long period of absence is extremely intimidating any which way you look at it but I have to tell you from my experience that despite my nerves over the first day in summer school (I took a couple of classes at a local school to see if I could really handle being in school again) I had the time of my life. Being an older student brings to the table experience that your younger counterparts lack, there is no social life to uphold at risk of losing your peers respect, there is no hazing to disrupt scheduling, there is no crazy all night drinking to leave you hung over for class the next day and most of all you have, by this point in your life, realized the importance of scheduling, time management and the value of sleep. With these things on your side I urge you to follow through with your desire to go back to school and hope you find the following resources as valuable as I have in my quest for a graduate education.

1. FAFSA – Undoubtedly you have heard of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Whether you used FAFSA during your undergraduate education or not, it is time to familiarize yourself with it now. FAFSA is an online accessible website that allows you to apply for federal funding for your education, including grants, fellowships, work-study and student loans. Even if, like me, you have applied only to programs which guarantee funding for PhD students education as well as a stipend to assist with living expenses, you can never underestimate the availability of funds when you may unexpectedly need them for your education.

2. Katherine Moore’s Grad School Application Advice – Katherine’s link to grad school application advice is valuable, particularly to married individuals seeking a graduate school education. Included in Katherine’s helpful resources is addressing the “two body problem” IE: what to do when you have two bodies to worry about rather than just one. Katherine also offers great advice in regards to preparation for applications, applications and decisions on graduate schools!

3. American Psychology – Law Society – This one is a little more specifically targeted to individuals who want to follow my intended path of study in Psychology and Law; however, each field of study has their own official organization. The APLS website provides information for those already in the field of psychology and law as well as those who wish to pursue an education in psychology and law. The section of the website I found most helpful was the listing of graduate programs that cater to psychology and law students. While I had on hand an APA graduate programs listing book when seeking programs to apply to it can be bulky and you are still left looking up website addresses where as the AP-LS website offers links directly to programs and colleges. Locate your intended field of study’s official organization and if you have to become a member of it to dig up as much information as possible on the programs you will be applying to.

4. Vocab Sushi – If you’re like me and you panic about test taking and want to make sure you are prepared then you will be searching for every which way possible to make your GRE test go smoothly. I researched and used every program I could get my hands on but my favorite of the vocabulary programs I used was Vocab Sushi. Vocab Sushi makes a game (and a cute one at that) out of learning your vocabulary words and with a variety of ways of presenting your vocab to you this game really does connect with everyone no matter what their learning style is.

5. Maghound.com – I know what you’re thinking, “a magazine service? Is she insane?” Nope, I am definitely not certifiable…yet. Do you have any idea how much reading you are in for during your graduate career? Chances are that it’s going to be a lot and not all of it is going to be something that interests you or is easy to read so it’s time to brush up on your journal reading skills! For my field of study (forensic psychology) there is a specified journal that publishes articles like the ones that I will be reading for graduate school but that said, it is also carries an extremely hefty pricetag that is far beyond my reach so instead I use Maghound to read articles which instead challenge my comprehension of subjects I know nothing about. Magazines like Discover, Smithsonian, National Geographic etc. Magazines that allow me to speed up my reading skills and test my comprehension levels on foreign subject matter. The great benefit of Maghound is that you can change your magazine subscriptions as it suits you, for one flat fee every month you get to pick your magazines and change them as often as you see fit!  Subscriptions start at $4.95 a month and that comes with three magazines of your choice.

6. Amazon.com – This one seems like another no-brainer but when I began to search for my text books for my summer classes this year I realized that the school was asking far beyond what individuals on the marketplace at Amazon.com were asking. I snagged two textbooks for $60 whereas the school was asking close to $200 for the pair of books. Amazon is also a cheap place to snag some books to brush up on your intended field of study, rather than the exorbitant prices over at Barnes and Noble or Borders you can pick up a few books to aid your background knowledge in your field for reasonable prices.

7. Preparing for Graduate Study in Psychology: 101 Questions and Answers – Again, this one is targeted to those of you seeking graduate education in Psychology but to be honest it’s worth a read anyway. I completed this book in one night and came away feeling like I had more direction as far as what steps I needed to take in my pursuit of graduate school and what to expect while taking those steps. I was fortunate enough to get in contact with one of the authors, William Buskist, via e-mail after I finished reading the book and I have to say that he is a very helpful and knowledgeable man to speak with if you have questions regarding this publication or the questions presented in it.

8. Sparknotes free GRE prep online – There are a million and one books to buy from the bookstore to help you prepare for the GRE but to be honest, of all the books I ended up buying the Sparknotes free online prep was far more useful. This free online “book” moves through introduction to the GRE, the individual sections of the GRE, practice tests for the GRE and some final test day tips to get you ready for the big day!

9. U.S. News Graduate School Rankings – Sure we all know that the Ivy League schools are great but what’s the best school to study teaching? Take a look at the U.S. News Graduate School Rankings to find some good potential matches for your intended program of study.

10. StatementofPurpose.com – When it comes to writing your Statement of Purpose for graduate schools you will most likely – if you’re anything like me – worry. So much of your graduate application rides on the quality of your statement of purpose and there is so much to cram in to that one or two page essay that you will be left writing and rewriting it time and time again. StatementofPurpose.com is a good place to go to get idea’s as to what colleges are looking for and what you may be doing wrong in your first few drafts of your Statement of Purpose.

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