How to Get a Head Start on Graduate School Applications

Applying to graduate school programs is more stressful than applying to undergraduate. Why? Well, first of all, the degree that you receive upon completion is typically a Masters or form of a Doctorate. The programs are extremely competitive and the workload/material focuses more on your future career goals. Bottom line, it is important to start preparing more in advance than you would’ve for undergraduate programs. 

 

1. Do your research:

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Compose a list of schools/programs that you would be interested in. Research each individual program and make a list of the different elements of the program. These things would include the duration of the program, prerequisite classes needed for the application, observation/experience hours needed, testing scores needed, deadlines as well as the amount of the deposit. Other things to look for would be the research opportunities that the program offers, how the curriculum is set up and maybe even when you could visit the campus. 

2. Work on strengthening your application:

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For some, this might mean retaking prerequisite courses to help boost your GPA. For others, this might mean completing more observation hours to gain a better understanding of the material. Some might also seek out volunteer opportunities to show to the programs that they are well-rounded students/citizens. 

3. Contact programs:

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Most programs have contact sheets that you can fill out to receive more information and news on the program. Something that I have found very helpful is to contact the admission counselors as well as faculty in the program. Just sending a simple email asking about prerequisites courses or possible open house dates, has helped me greatly. 

4. Get organized:

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This is so important because once the application cycle opens, having everything ready and organized will relieve some of the stress that comes along with applying. Ask for a letter of recommendation well in advance. Make sure to complete all necessary testing a few months in advance so that you will receive your scores with time to spare (in case of an emergency). Make sure to complete all prerequisite courses and have your transcript ready to submit. Prioritize what schools/programs are important for you to apply to, as some might just be safety schools. Submit your application to your top programs first (and even early decision to show commitment to the program).