The Top 5 Tips to Survive Grad School Application Season

For all the seniors out there, these past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of "lasts" at UCF: last first day, last homecoming, last year sharing an apartment with your friends. However, for those of us applying to any type of graduate school, this is also the time for lots of firsts: probably the first time filling out FAFSA as independent, first time taking graduate school admission tests, and the first time filling out graduate applications. It’s a whirlwind of emotions from excitement and fear all the way to anger for putting yourself through this. However, not to worry—here are some tips to get you through this stressful (and emotional) time.

  1. 1. Balance Your Time Wisely

    It‘s really easy to get caught up in your feelings since this is the last year you’ll be able to be a part of your favorite club or spend time with most of your friends. So, instead of studying for the GRE, you end up going on a spontaneous adventure. While doing this once in a while is not a terrible idea (live while we’re young, right?), a constant cycle of prioritizing friends over school can be problematic. Set time aside specifically for all the things you need to do. Treat applications and studying for admissions tests as if they are another class. Of course, don't become a hermit who never leaves your room because you’re studying 24/7, but remember that your future could be impacted by the little decisions you make every day. 

  2. 2. Budget, Budget, Budget

    Personally, I’m applying to law school, which I recently found out is not a cheap endeavor. Just applying is a minimum of $45 per school, $190 for the CAS reporting system and $200 per LSAT attempt. These numbers add up very quickly. Regardless if your money is coming from family, a financial aid refund or work, make sure you have enough money to cover these expenses. Additionally, make sure you set aside money for when you do get into grad school and are waiting for your financial aid to come through. Housing applications, seat deposits and orientation are all extra expenses you should make sure to consider. 

  3. 3. Do Your Research

    If each school is costing you at least $45 (or however much your specific grad school apps are), you need to ensure you’re applying to places you may actually want to attend. Search for programs you’re interested in. Ensure the schools you are applying to align with what you’re looking for. Having a couple of safety, goal and reach schools is a great idea, but I promise you, you don’t need nine safeties, eight targets, and 12 reaches. That’s so many applications to fill out and so much money, especially when you know you won’t even consider half of the schools on those lists. 

  4. 4. Reach Out For Help If You Need It

    Even on campus, there are plenty of resources for those applying to grad school. Advising appointments are always available through your respective colleges. For those of you with dreams of law school or medical school, the Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law has been incredibly helpful. Reach out to schools you’re applying to with any specific questions you may have. The admissions office is there to help you, so utilize it as much as you need. 

  5. 5. Don't Get Discouraged

    Filling out applications and prepping in general for graduate school is exhausting. If your personal statement continuously needs extra work or your GRE practice score isn’t where you want it to be, don’t worry! Practice makes perfect. Tying into this, eventually, decisions are going to start coming in. If they are not what you were hoping for, take a deep breath and push through. There’s plenty of other schools that would be lucky to have you. Rejection is a normal part of life. Handle it graciously and continue to keep that chin up. 

Although this is a scary time, graduate school will bring you one step closer to your goals. Don’t give up because it’s hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Good luck with your applications and admissions tests. You are off to do amazing things!

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