As college grads across the country are receiving their diplomas, there remains very real questions about pursuing advanced degrees in their future.

Yvette Martínez-Vu and Miroslava Chávez-García’s latest book, Is Grad School for Me?, is the first guidebook of its kind to provide graduate school advice to historically excluded students and how to navigate the at times overwhelming undertaking of graduate school.

We are happy to provide a few helpful excerpts from their latest guidebook that would benefit all recent and soon-to-be college graduates as they consider their graduate school prospects.

The following passages are edited excerpts from Is Grad School for Me? by Yvette Martínez-Vu and Miroslava Chávez-García

Before Applying
Ask yourself “is grad school for me?

When considering applying to graduate school, one of the first things you should think about is whether graduate school is the right step for you in your career and life. To do that, you need to take time to reflect on your goals. Ask yourself:

  • What is my current career objective?
  • Is graduate school a requirement for this career?
  • Do I need an advanced degree to have access to and ascend the ranks of my intended profession?
  • Besides academic training, what else do I hope to gain from a graduate program?
  • What graduate programs have other individuals in my similar career trajectory completed?
  • Is it possible to gain the necessary skills and resources without enrolling in a graduate program?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of graduate school in my area of interest and/or discipline?
  • Who are the people, that is, the femtors and mentors, who can guide me in my decision to pursue (or not) a graduate program?

The Application Process
Balancing obligations

As you prepare for the upcoming graduate school applications cycle, keep in mind how your obligations will be impacted by the time you spend on your materials (such as statements or requests for letters of recommendation). Consider, too, whether you can put any of those responsibilities on pause or say “no” to them during this period of time. Remember, when you say “no” to one thing (like joining a book club or assisting in building a website), you’re saying “yes” to another (advancing your applications)…

How might adding the task of applying to graduate programs impact your schedule? What will you sacrifice to make time for this? And how will you hold yourself accountable to setting aside time each week to dedicate towards your application process?

Congrats! You’re Going to Grad School!
Now what?

The summer before:
Even without taking into account the stressful process of moving, the summer before starting graduate school can be an anxiety-inducing time. You too may be wondering what you can do to prepare for this big transition. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prioritize taking a break in the summer
  • Get your finances in order
  • Focus on activities that bring you pleasure
  • Network and build community by reaching out to individuals in your program

During the school year:

  • Prioritize wellness, self-care, and stress management
  • Consider your career development and options and what skills are necessary for the fields and industries you are interested in and best equipped to enter
  • Most importantly: DO NOT lose sight of what you bring to the table as a graduate student

Is Grad School for Me?: Demystifying the Application Process for First-Gen BIPOC Students by Yvette Martínez-Vu and Miroslava Chávez-García is available now

Read our Q&A with the authors