5 Tips for Applying to Graduate School

While applying to graduate school may seem like an insurmountable task, it can be relatively pain-free if you start planning now. Here are some easy tips for applying to graduate school.

  1. 1. Talk to Your Career Engagement Center, Like, Right Now

    Regardless of whether you know exactly what you want to do or have no idea, you should talk to the Center for Career Engagement so that they can help keep you on track and make sure that you're not missing any important steps in the application process. They may also be privy to insider info on financial aid and application waivers, so a trip to Career Engagement may actually save you money.

    At the beginning of my senior year, I started scheduling bi-weekly meetings with my career advisor just to make sure that I've remembered to cross every item off my to-do list. And sometimes, you just need someone to hold you accountable.

  2. 2. Ask Your Professors for Recommendations ASAP

    It's never too early to ask for a recommendation letter. Hopefully, by your senior year, you should have an advisor or two that know you well and can attest to your work ethic. Make sure that you always ask for a recommendation letter at least four weeks in advanced. And be aware that professors procrastinate just as much as students, and there may be nothing you can do about that. One of my professors completed a recommendation with only 74 minutes until the deadline!

    It may also be a good idea to get white copies of your recommendations, which are recommendations with no water marks on them. Many graduate schools require sealed letters from the professor, but some programs will take white copies, and this can save you the time of having to incessantly email your references to have them update yet another application.

  3. 3. Keep Up Your Grades

    I know. It's really tempting to tune out during your last semester in college, but you have to power through. Don't let your senior year be the reason that you miss out on scholarships during grad school.

    Try to remember what made you so passionate about your studies before you got senioritis, whether that's a professor, a book, a show, etc. Whatever keeps you going, just keep going.

  4. 4. Consult Your Advisors About Your Personal Statement

    Personal statements and statements of purpose (which are indeed different things) are nothing like college admissions essays. Don't write a short biography or a vignette that describes yourself; each program demands a different kind of personal statement. 

    Though it might have been a while since they applied, your professors will definitely have advice about how to write a personal statement for your academic field. Make sure you talk to your advisors before you write your statement so you don't make the common pitfalls and cliches found in your academic field.

  5. 5. Be Patient and Kind to Yourself

    It can take a long time to hear back about graduate school. Focus on getting your applications done, and then sit back and relax. Whatever is meant to be will be, and even if you don't get into your dream school, there are plenty of fantastic jobs and internships that can provide you experience before you reapply. 

    Remember to be kind to yourself and be open to new possibilities! There are many paths to your goals, and things will work out in the end!