It’s that time of year again when graduate school applications are due. The deadlines for different programs at different schools vary; however, the deadlines for professional programs such as dentistry, teacher’s college, law, and medicine are all within the next few months. Are you ready for the long, drawn-out, complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating process of applying to graduate school?
Whether you think you are or not, here are some tips that I’ve put together to ease the burden of this arduous journey. It might not make the process any more fun, but following these tips will help make you much more confident about your application.
Plan ahead. For example, make a timeline of things you need to do. You may want to write on a piece of paper what you’re going to do before your last year of undergraduate studies, and what you will do in September, October, November, all the way to April—from exploring potential graduate school programs to accepting your offer of admission. This will ensure that you don’t miss a deadline or cram writing your personal statement one night before it’s due.
Seek help. Get feedback from professors, faculty, or professionals in the field about what you can say in your personal statement to make it strong, professional, and clearly written. Also, send copies of your personal statement out to family and friends and revise, rewrite, and edit until not only you’re satisfied but everyone else is.
Write your personal statement from the heart. Don’t just cut and paste what you think sounds good! Write something unique about yourself and don’t rely on cheap, overdone statements that graduate school admission committees have read thousands of times. This is your chance to show your writing ability, motivation, and passion for the field you want to study in.
Figure out ahead of time how much graduate school is going to cost. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out a plan for funding your graduate education.
Visit, visit, visit! Visit the campus and see if it’s a good fit for you. Choose a campus where you actually want to live, because if you hate the place you’re living, you’re going to feel miserable. Take a look at the geographic location, reputation, campus life, and student services and facilities. Get a strong feel for the program and the school.
Be polite, courteous, and professional when asking faculty for recommendation letters. This may seem obvious, but it actually isn’t to many people. Letters of recommendation are extremely important in the application process, and they can mean the difference between acceptance or rejection.
Talk to other students about what it’s like being in the program. They can be a valuable source of information.
Don’t limit your graduate school search—apply to several schools! This will always work in your favour.
These are but a few tips for putting together the oh-so-important package of transcripts, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and test scores. But if you follow them, you’ll already be on the road to success.