The road to graduate school is long
– and can be complex and sometimes confusing. To help
keep you on track, here's a calendar of what grad school
applicants should be doing, and when.
Get a Head Start: Those interested in applying to
graduate school for Fall 2019 should
use the coming months to get a head start on the application process.
If you're a Fall 2019 applicant,
remember that it is never too early to begin
researching your school choices. The sooner you
start, the sooner you'll determine which programs and schools offer the best
overall fit for your needs and goals. It's also a
good idea to start tracking the various application
deadlines that different schools use. That will help
you prepare a schedule that will
give you the flexibility and time you need to prepare well-rounded applications.
Next, schedule visits to the schools of
your choice. Consider meeting with
admissions staff and students.
Attend an admissions information session. See if you
can sit in on a class. Think carefully about the
differences you notice between various programs and
how they affect your preference for one program over
another. You'll want to include those points in your
If you haven't already taken the
GRE, register for the test now and begin
reviewing test material. Again, it is important to check the application
deadlines of the programs you're applying to in
order to guarantee that your test scores will be reported to
the schools in time for the deadlines.
Not sure whether you need a GRE prep course? Call us at
1.800.809.0800 (+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and
Canada) to discuss your situation. We're here to help you!
Spring and summer are good times to take some
courses at a local college or
university if you need to build an alternative transcript
to mitigate weaknesses in your official transcripts. Good
performance in graduate-level courses could reassure
admissions committees of your academic ability and
your commitment to graduate study. See if the course
instructor would be willing to write a letter of
recommendation for you when the time comes.
Request copies of your official transcripts
for your own use. Make sure you remember to get one
from every institution you've been enrolled at. You'll use
your copies of the transcripts to refresh your memory about your school performance
and position yourself for grad school admission.
can enhance your grad school applications. Think
about the activities you participate in and the
organizations you belong to. Will those
activities and memberships support your case for
graduate study? Would you benefit by getting
involved in additional groups or activities?
(Beware, however, of starting a number of new
activities at the same time. Doing so could leave an
impression that you joined the groups in question
out of expediency rather than out of genuine
"Most of your application will come down to the telling your story. It's
critical that you communicate to the admissions committee your motivation and readiness for graduate study. That's
why it's important to provide strong letters of recommendation and essays that detail the unique skills and
experience you can bring to a graduate program. These are the elements of an application that often have the
biggest impact in admissions decisions."
– Senior Admissions Consultant
Thomas Steffen is the Former Director of Graduate Admission
at Duke University.
Check school websites
to get an idea of what their admissions requirements
are, including any supplemental materials (such as a writing
sample). Also check to see whether you would need to
complete any prerequisite courses to be eligible to
apply to the program..
If you want to be considered for
assistantships, fellowships, or financial aid,
make sure you understand what deadlines you will need to
meet. Also, think about how you will prepare an application
the qualities that make you a strong candidate for
Review your résumé.
Determine whether you should take the coming months
to obtain additional work experience. You may also want to
consider taking on another project at work or
joining a professional organization, as these can
strengthen your credentials. By starting early, you
have enough time to further build your professional
profile if need be.
Think about issues or topics you
might want to include in your statements of
purpose or personal statements. Ask yourself how well
each one would serve to promote your candidacy at
your targeted schools. Oftentimes, you'll want to use different personal statements
for different schools or programs. After all,
different programs seek different qualities in their
graduate students. A well-crafted personal statement
is often the factor that makes the difference
between being accepted to a graduate program and
Start thinking about who you would
like to ask to write your recommendation letters. Take a moment
to double-check your recommendation strategy. Can
your chosen recommenders discuss your candidacy in
adequate detail? If not, will you benefit from
including an additional, optional recommendation
that substantiates your story themes or 'wow'
factors, highlights your strengths, or, possibly,
mitigates your weaknesses? Once you have chosen your
recommenders, be proactive and tell
your recommenders which points they need to make to
give your applications your best chances of
Our Graduate School Admissions Timeline
page will be updated on May 1.
Do you have questions about any of the
items you see here? Please call us at 1.800.809.0800
(+1 703.242.5885 outside the US and Canada) or
us if you do. Our consultants can help you with school
selection, application strategies, application and
interview preparation, and all other aspects of the
graduate school admissions process.
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