Graduate School Applications

The things they don’t tell you:
about applying to graduate school.

I did a post a while back about tips on finding internships. However, in the last few months I had to do the applying process all over again, but instead for graduate schools.

As most science majors discover in college, many jobs require more schooling than just a bachelors degree. So along with midterms and senior year classes, you have to juggle applications and taking the GRE (the exam required to get into most graduate schools).

I thought I could share some tips that I have found have been helpful for me getting through this process –

  1. Do your research – A good place to start is of course, looking at schools. This can be done a few different ways. First, you can look at schools you know of or have been told about. You should look at the programs they offer and and then look at the faculty. Another way to find a program is to look at papers published about research that you are interested in. You can back trace the authors and see if they are conducting that research in a particular program at a school. However, remember that there is more than just the people in the program to investigate. You also must take into account their funding opportunities and any costs associated with the program as well as location. You want to enjoy the place your living for the next few years of your life.
  2. Make a list – Making a list is pretty much always a good idea. Especially for planning out how to apply to grad school. You should be able to identify multiple professors that you could potentially work with at any given institution. I found it helpful to list all the schools I was interested in and three PI’s that I would be interested graduate schoolworking for. It is also helpful for organization purposes to write down the application due dates for each school you are interested in.
  3. Take the test – No one wants to take the GRE, but almost every program requires it. My advice is to take it early. That way, if it is necessary to retake it, you can do so before your applications are due. On a side note – spots often fill up fast so book your seat well in advance of the testing date.
  4. Give them your email – When signing up for the GRE, the company will ask if they can share your email with potential schools. LET THEM. Yes it may clutter your inbox a bit, but it also lets you know about schools that are recruiting students and that you may not have thought about.
  5. Decide where to apply – Nothing in life is free, and this includes graduate school applications. For most people this means you need to narrow down your lists of schools to apply to. The GRE allows you to send your test scores to four schools for free on the day of your exam. Therefore, it is helpful to know where you would like to send them to be able to save some money down the road.

While applying to schools is stressful, a little organization can go a long way in minimizing that stress. Hopefully there are a few ideas above that can help you in the graduate school application process.

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