Advice from those of us who have been through the application process, so you can learn from our mistakes.
1. Solidify the list of programs you plan on applying to by the summer before your senior year.
2. Just like you did for undergrad, make sure you apply to a diverse range of programs—some that are safety, some that are target, and some that are reach.
3. For each program’s application, consider carefully how you want to market yourself. What past experiences do you have that make you a good fit for this particular program? How do your passions and future career plans align with the mission of the program?
4. Look into some of the ongoing research of professors affiliated with your desired programs, and use your Personal Statement to address how you’d like to be involved with specific research projects.
5. Choose recommenders who know you well and are strong writers.
6. Have someone you trust read over all of your application materials.
7. Especially for reach programs (your dream programs, where admissions are likely more selective), submit your application as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of acceptance.
8. Don’t overlook the financial side of grad school. Give thought to how you will cover each program’s various fees and expenses, and apply for external aid if need be. For many schools, submitting your application earlier will increase the likelihood that you are awarded scholarship money.
9. Try not to become too disheartened by rejections. Because you made sure to apply to target and safety programs, you can rest assured that you will have options.
10. Take the time to be proud of yourself for successfully making it through the grad school application process, and thank everyone who helped you along the way.