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Graduate School Scholarships – How I Got Paid to Attend Grad School

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September is finally here!

I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that it’s September (and almost my birthday!). August was a memorable one as I am proud to announce that I have successfully defended my Master’s thesis. CHA GIRL IS A MASTER OF SCIENCE BABYYY! I couldn’t have done it without my graduate school scholarships.

Now that I’m wrapping up my thesis edits and about to move out to Cali to start an amazing internship with the Walt Disney Company (AHH!), I can finally devote more time to writing my blog.

And with that, I want to share my story about how I got to attend grad school at Penn State…[wait for it]…FO FREE. Better yet, I earned a salary, while attending.

How I Got Paid to Attend Grad School - Graduate School Scholarships

Graduate School Scholarships and Assistantships – How I got PAID to Attend Grad School:

The idea of the possibility of grad school came to me the summer before my senior year of college. My interest in plant sciences and horticulture peaked during my previous internship experience. However, I had no idea where to start when I officially decided on attending graduate school. Fortunately, I had many colleagues and resources at Florida State, that helped me get the ball rollin’.

Keep reading below to learn how I earned paid to attend graduate school with my graduate school scholarships.

First things first, I researched schools offering the program I wanted. As weird as it sounds, I desired to come back up north (crazy I know) for grad school, so I narrowed my search geographically. It also works to google “______ Master’s/Doctorate Programs” and find schools that way.

I made a list of the schools that had the program I wanted and narrowed them down to a list of about 5 or 6 schools. I wouldn’t recommend having more than that, only because applications and essays will take up a lot of time.

The next step was to look up faculty and their respective research projects in the program. What’s great about getting into a research field is that many professors receive funding for graduate students. However, you don’t want to be stuck researching a topic you’re not interested in for the next 2+ years, so find a subject that appeals to you!

The next step: contact, contact, contact!

When you find interesting topics, reach out to professors immediately! It’s a tough market with a lot of competition, so the sooner you contact them the better. They’ll respond informing you if they have any openings for a graduate student or not. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t. Don’t be discouraged! Keep searching.

I was lucky to find a professor with a graduate student opening in the most amazing research topic evaaaa- Christmas trees!

If you find a professor with graduate student availability, AWESOME! Keep in contact with them. They’ll usually help you out with any questions, comments, and concerns regarding applying to grad school. My graduate advisor was awesome enough to inform me that my GRE scores weren’t the only thing that would decide my admission fate (such a relief)!

*I used a Kaplan test prep book to study for the GRE. I would highly recommend it! SO Helpful*

For when research isn’t your thing:

I loved being a graduate research assistant. However, not everyone wants to get into research…and that’s okay! You can still get paid to go to graduate school.

Presenting, a teachers assistant!

Once you find a program you’re interested in, email the head chair of the program dept. Some program websites are up to date and do list any opening for TA positions (but I wouldn’t count on it). By emailing the dept. head, you have a definite answer for any future position vacancies. People are constantly graduating, so the chances of positions opening up can be pretty good.

I was under dept. funding, so I was actually both a research assistant and a teaching assistant. It was a great learning experience since I had the opportunity to learn about research and teach in an academic setting.

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Graduate school is super expensive. With student loans piled up from undergrad, it’s not an affordable option for many people.

But it doesn’t have to be costly! Graduate school scholarships are an amazing opportunity to further your education and get PAID while doing it.

Once you’ve decided that graduate school is for you, reach out and connect with professors and other faculty members to learn about research, or others grad school funding opportunities within the program.

Have you ever considered attending grad school? Was money a major factor in your decision? Comment below!

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