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Applying to Graduate School While Teaching Abroad

By Jasmine

After I finished my undergraduate degree I knew I would want to go back to school and do a master’s degree, but I also knew I needed to take a break from school. I wanted to travel and get some work experience. That was four years ago! This fall I’m starting my graduate studies. In my experience doing anything from abroad is harder than if you were doing it from home, but it’s not impossible. Luckily, applications are online these days so applying for graduate school from South Korea isn’t as bad as it could be.

  1. Start your application early. The programs I applied to were portfolio based, so I started working on my applications in the summer. This probably isn’t necessary if you’re applying to a program where they mostly consider your grades. However, make sure you give yourself a lot of time to work on your personal statement and the essays you will submit for your application. Also, make sure someone else reads these. If you’re really in a pinch and can’t find someone to read over your materials at least read them aloud to yourself. This will help you catch typos.
  2. Write down the deadlines in your planner and be aware if you’re a day ahead or a day behind the place where you’re submitting too.
  3. When it comes to choosing your recommendations make sure to choose the person who you think is really going to write you the best letter—not the person you think will look most impressive to a school. If they’re the same person then great,but if they’re not don’t worry about it. Also, make sure to ask them how many letters they are comfortable writing for you (three? five? ten?). This was something I didn’t take into account and then had to ask another professor last minute for a recommendation (not a great look).
  4. Find someone else who is applying to grad school and meet up to work on your statement of purpose. I was lucky in that my partner and I were both applying to graduate school, so this was easy for me. If none of your friends are applying, ask around on Facebook groups, there’s usually someone.
  5. Go on and join the forum for your subject. There’s a lot of helpful advice + links on there.
  6. One of the downsides to teaching abroad is that your spoken English might take a hit, so read read read! Jumping into a graduate program after speaking minimal English for a few years can take some getting used to.
  7. Take breaks and go easy on yourself. I think this is important no matter what you’re doing, but especially when applying to something new. While I was working on my applications I kept having to remind myself that if I didn’t get into any of the schools I applied to that would be okay.
  8. Breathe. You’ve already moved to a new country and taught kids who you may or may not share a language with. You’ve got this.

Best of luck!

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