Already thinking about grad studies? Admissions Communications team member and Ryerson M.A. graduate, Matt, is here to give you the inside scoop!
After 3 years of all-nighters, lukewarm Tim Hortons coffee, and haphazard TTC selfies, you’ve reached the final year of your undergrad. For some, this means pulling the least wrinkled shirt out of the closet and printing out a few dozen copies of the ol’ resume. However, maybe you’re considering a different path – doubling down in academia and continuing on at Ryerson at the graduate level.
Ryerson offers a plethora of graduate programs, ranging from Social Work, to Professional Communication, to Biomedical Engineering. No matter what program you’re eyeballing, the application process can be intimidating. As someone who completed their master’s degree at Ryerson, I can offer a few words of advice to the prospective graduate student.
You are good enough!
Impostor syndrome is a real thing. Some of the most brilliant MA and PHD students I’ve worked with – individuals who have presented at conferences and been published in journals – have been afflicted by this sense of insecurity. As an undergrad, you shouldn’t let a fear of not being good enough for graduate studies prevent you from applying for graduate studies. If you’ve made it to 4th year, and your grades are decent, there’s a place for you in academia.
Asking for a letter of reference isn’t as scary as you think
Most applicants are gripped by paralysis when it comes to requesting a letter of reference from a professor. Yes, professors are busy people, and yes, it can be an awkward process. But don’t feel the need to beg or supplicate. It’s part of a faculty member’s job to write reference letters, and they receive dozens of such requests each year. Send a frank, polite, and succinct email, and you’ll more than likely get a response back.
Arrange a guided tour
When I applied for graduate studies, I ended up being accepted to programs at both Ryerson and McMaster. To make my decision easier, I ended up contacting the program director at each school to request a guided tour of their department and the campus as a whole. Administrative staff and professors alike are happy to entertain such requests, whether or not you’ve already been accepted. Don’t be afraid to fire off an email, phone call, or nicely worded Tweet.
Find out what graduates are up to
On the same note, make a point to chat with recent graduates from your program of choice. Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn and 10 000 Coffees make them easy to track down. Arranging a coffee date with a graduate will give you a firsthand impression of what the program is like, what types of jobs it leads to, and (perhaps most important of all) if the somewhat austere graduate student lifestyle is for you.
It isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK!
If you decide against applying for graduate studies, don’t feel like a failure! A master’s degree might not be for you, or it might not be for you right now. You can always apply in a few years if you change your mind. When I applied, I had been out of school for almost 4 years, and I found Ryerson extremely welcoming towards mature students. Remember, when you’re slugging out that office job, you can always follow Ryerson on social media to keep tabs on what programs are being offered.