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.
January – February
Don't Forget: The
to apply to graduate programs for admission this fall are coming up soon. If you want to be considered for scholarships
or fellowships, you may have to meet even earlier
If you haven't already taken the
GRE, register for the test now and begin
reviewing test material. Check the application
deadlines of the programs you're applying to and
make sure your test scores will be reported to them in time.
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!
If you're applying for this fall, you
should have already finished making your school choices.
The number of schools you should apply to varies
widely depending on
your program interests and personal goals. As a
general rule, the more important it is to you to
begin grad school this coming year, the more schools
you should apply to.
Visit schools. Try to meet 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
Request your official transcripts
from every undergraduate institution you've
attended. Make sure you follow the instructions for
each of the schools involved, and that you request
transcripts in time to meet your application
Order unofficial copies of your
college transcripts for yourself. You'll use these
to refresh your memory about your school performance
and position yourself for grad school admission.
Winter is a good time to take some courses at a local college or
university to build an alternative transcript that
can 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.
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
of 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
Begin your applications. Either get copies of the application
forms for each school you want to apply to or
visit the online application websites.
Familiarize yourself with their requirements,
including what supplemental materials (writing
sample, etc.) they require and what their submission
procedures and deadlines are.
Make sure your supplemental
materials are appropriate for the programs you are
applying to. For example, if you're applying to a
public policy program, you may need to submit a
writing sample in the form of a public policy memo.
If you want to be considered for
assistantships, fellowships, or financial aid,
make sure you understand what deadlines you need to
meet. Also, make sure your application highlights
the qualities that make you a strong candidate for
Review your résumé.
Update it as needed. Remember that you are applying
for a graduate program, not for employment. Your résumé
should be tailored to that purpose. Depending on the
type of program you're applying to, you may want to
use a curriculum vitae (c.v.) format rather than a
Review your statements of
purpose or personal statements. Ask yourself how well it serves 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
Ask for your recommendation letters
at least 6 weeks before they are due. 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? 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 March 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)
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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