Before applying to any graduate program, give careful consideration to 1) your goals, 2) the demands of time and money for graduate study, and 3) the possible job prospects after you finish the program.
1. Clarify your goals. Depending on your career goals, graduate study may not be necessary in this phase of your career planning. Work with a career counselor if you are unsure of your career goals or why you are considering graduate study. Some students will go directly to graduate school when they are unsure of their career goals, but in general that is the wrong career move: not only will you be spending time and money without a strong focus in a graduate program, it will delay you from getting work experience that could give you more information about the kinds of skills you want to use, the right kind of work environment, and so on. You may find that as you develop your career, it will become clear to you when the right time is for you to pursue further graduate study.
2. Investigate what you will need to invest in order to meet your goals. If you think that graduate study is right for you at this time, do a realistic assessment of the length of study, costs, and the type of academic work that will be involved in the program. Identify schools of interest and talk to current students of that program, which you can find on department websites or by asking the departments directly. Assess your readiness for the rigors of graduate study by consulting with faculty, pre-professional advisors, and admissions deans.
3. Research the career that you hope to have when you finish that degree.
Whether it is as a tenure-track professor, a clinical psychologist, a trial lawyer, or a scientist for a major R&D company, find out what these careers are really like. Talk to alumni and others
to find out working conditions, employment prospects, and additional training that may be required. Having a better sense of where you want to end up will help you choose the graduate program that is the best fit for you.