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Long Break from Academia


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I graduated from UCSB in 2012.  I am currently teaching social studies at a high school in Egypt.  I am thinking that I will be applying to grad school 3-4 years from now.  What should I do to improve my chances of getting into an excellent graduate program for the history of U.S. policy towards the World during this extended break?  If I have choice, should I focus on language preparation or the GRE?  Would it be better if I apply to master's programs first? My undergrad GPA was a 3.89. 

Edited by Leonard Elick
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I also had 6 years away from academia before applying for grad programs.


Are you a US citizen? You mention "language" - are you talking about improving your English? Or building proficiency in a relevant "foreign" language?


If your undergrad major was unrelated, then I would look at taking classes at a local university or online that can improve your foundations. Consider building proficiency in a second or third language relevant to what you want to study/research.


Research graduate programs and start making your list now of which schools you'd like to go to according to your interests, and which faculty you'd like to work with. Faculty may be gone by the time you apply, but it is a good exercise to help you prepare. As you decide which programs you are most interested in, you will be able to see which strengths they look for in applicants, and you can form a plan for your next few years according to what the specific programs look for.


If you don't know hat you want to research, then read!


Look at helping with some relevant research, perhaps at a university, or find someone who is writing a book on a related topic who needs help. 


With 3-4 years, you don't have to choose between either GRE prep or language prep - do both! 


As for whether to apply to a Master's program, that really depends on which programs you want to apply to, so, again, you should look into that sooner than later!


Good luck.

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