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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Are You Ready to Apply to Graduate School?

If not, don’t let the application process frighten you. It’s not scary; though it takes time and planning. After you narrowed your choices and identified programs to which you want to apply, now research the application process for each program. Each school varies on the application process and requirements. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. You will need time to request and receive recommendations, and gather supporting documents. Allow at least 3 months to prepare. Add an additional 3 months if you need to study and take an exam before applying. It may be helpful to follow a timeline. Use these timelines of the graduate schoolpre-law and pre-med application process to help you stay on  track.

Here are several general items to consider in the application process:

Test Scores – Test requirements and scores vary from program to program. Research programs of interest for test requirements including test type and preferred scores. Some schools will list the score(s) they are seeking in competitive applicants. Be familiar with what exam you need to take in order to apply for admittance to the program.

Application – Generally, an application asks for your program of study designation, personal data, academic information, disciplinary actions, and test scores. Most schools have an online application process which makes it easy to complete the application and upload the required documents such a personal statement.

Transcripts – Programs require you to provide an official transcript from the university. However, some programs allow you to submit a copy of the transcript in order to apply. Upon acceptance, you will need to send an official transcript. Contact the registrar’s office to request an official transcript. There is a fee associated with the request.  Be prepared to pay a fee.

Recommendations – Typically, programs require you to submit at least 2-3 recommendations. These recommendations vary from whom you receive them. Pay attention to what your school requests. You may need to have academic, community/service, professional references.

Personal Statements – Graduate schools want to learn about you. You need to tell your story, but be specific about your long term goals, and how the program to which you are applying will help you to accomplish your goals. Some programs will have specific prompts to answer; others might simply ask you to “write a personal statement.”

Writing Samples – Some programs want you to submit a writing sample. Research papers written in your undergraduate courses and select one that best represents your writing aptitude. If feasible, select a sample related to the program to which you are applying. This will help make a connection to the program and your interest in the discipline.

Fees – There are fees associated with the application process. Fees vary from school to school. They can quickly add up if you apply to multiple schools. So, narrow your choices.

Remember, each program is different. Do your research and allow yourself adequate time to prepare and apply.

Category: Professional Development

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