An Easy Guide for Applying to Graduate School

For many of us, graduate school seems like years away, when in reality it is sneaking up on us faster than we know it. We all need help sometimes, so I have volunteered myself to stress out for you and get all the information you need to apply to graduate school in an easy guide.


  • Letters of Recommendation

This one is something you should start working on first, and I suggest beginning about 6 months before your application is due. Try to get two professors from your study area, two from advisors or bosses, and one or two from someone employed in the area you are wishing to study in graduate school. When I say all these people, be sure to ask the people that know you the best. Do not ask a professor you had for one semester in a 200-person class and never had appointments with. Never ask politicians, family, or friends; however, ask people that really know you and your strengths! When requesting the letters, be sure you send them any papers or work you did for their class or your job as well as a resume.


  • Exams

First things first, save your money. Only buy a book or two to study with, you do not need the entire collection of study books they offer. Be sure to save up for the exam you need to take as well because prices can range from $100-$500 per exam.  When registering for your exam, I recommend registering about 2-3 months beforehand, which is also when you need to start studying for it.


  • Personal Statement

Your personal statement is about you, but they do not want to know that you are a biology major because you like horses. They want to know why. They want to know that you have gone through some type of self-reflection that prepared you for the future and for their graduate program. They want it to be insightful and revealing, but they don’t want a pity story either. It can be easy to appeal to emotions here, but they do not want that. Instead, imagine it is an explanation or an informative piece rather than a persuasive one. If you failed a class, this is your chance to explain yourself and how you overcame that.


  • Application Process

During this process, again make sure you have your money saved up because applications can be between $50-$250, not including the official transcript you have to order from your school to be sent out. You may have to send links to your application for your recommenders to submit their letters because most grad schools prefer that you not read them. Remember that you are doing this for you and your future. Just take a deep breath during this application and work through it by pacing yourself. It is going to be a timely process, but so worth it.


Applying to graduate school is something that is tedious and sometimes scary, but that is okay. Hundreds of thousands of other people are going through the same thing and are right there with you. You got this.