Applying to Grad School – Application Tips

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Do note that this advice is steered towards US universities and focus on grad school applications. However, some advice is pretty universal so I hope this helps, even if it doesn’t completely apply!

Applications are annoying. They’re even more annoying when you add all the school stuff you need to do on top of them like classes, midterms, homework, etc. If you’re lucky, you’ll come out a little more sleep deprived than usual… If your not, well… None of that talk because this post is meant to help you survive the torment of grad school applications!

So how do you survive? Well start early and plan ahead of course.

You thought I was going to say something more clever huh? Sadly, as cliche and repetitive as this advice is, it is the best advice anyone can give you when it comes to juggling applications on top of everything else you have to do.

So, here’s a few things that you should start looking into and preparing so you can get ahead of the curve!

Know the deadlines! Be the deadlines! Dream about the deadlines!

I mean it! Keep track of the deadlines! Every department, even within the same university, has a different deadline. As the semester progresses and classes pick up, it’s very easy for these deadlines to sneak up on you, leaving you with a few more tears and a lot less sleep. Know the deadlines!

Documentation, documentation, documentation…

Now there are some documents that are pretty universal for all applications. For example the dreaded personal statement, the annoying GRE scores and the even scarier recommendation letters.  However, some schools also have extra things they need. Some require official transcripts while others just want a print out of your unofficial ones. Some require you to take GRE subject tests (Luckily, these are less and less common). Make note of every piece of paper that needs to be submitted and mark when you submit them to each school. One missing piece of paper can mean the difference between a happy submission and a complete waste of time.

Fee Waivers

Unfortunately, applying to grad school costs money. Lots of money. Like the price ranges from $50 to $100 per application! So, if you qualify for fee waivers because of income or because you were part of a specific organization, figure out what documentation you need right away and APPLY APPLY APPLY!

Personal Statements

Now, most prompts are essentially the same when it comes to personal statements. However, it is still good practice to copy and paste each prompt into a word document and have them available so you can make sure what you’re writing works.

Recommendation Letters

Hopefully throughout your four or so years of college you have managed to find a few professors or supervisors that are willing to vouch for your awesomeness. Let them know that they are needed to make you look good! Make note of when their letters are due and how they are required to send them in (most are electronic, but some schools are behind on the times). It is your job to give them all the information they need to make both their and your life easier. I recommend bringing it up at least 1 month in advance and give constant reminders every few weeks.

Oy! That’s a lot of stuff to remember. Well, this is where a handy dandy excel sheet comes in handy, like this one!

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 1.50.47 PM

Oooo! Ahhh! Where can I get this awesome thing? Download it right here! This way you can easily note the things you’ve finished and know what you still need to get done! You can even add columns with log in information, so you can access your applications online however many times you want! 😀

Hope this helps! ❤

Also, if you want to read up on how to better organize your grad school application days or which fellowships to apply for in order to not eat ramen for the next 5.5 years, check out my previous posts:

~K

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