Grad School Planning Timeline
* Should I go to graduate school right away or wait awhile and then apply?
* How do I decide which school is best for me?
Those are probably the two questions we hear most. The answer is a personal one for each of you. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or when to attend graduate school:
THE SUMMER BEFORE:
- Define your goals: To find the right program, you need to know what you want to do specifically. It’s ok to explore you interest in college, but grad school is about defining them.
- Get Prepared: Admission exams happen throughout the year. Prep early and make sure you are ready. Check out a practice exam. It is a great place to start and will help you focus your study time.
- Think Money: The competition can be tough for graduate financial aid. Look into fellowships and assistantship in your field. Be sure to stay on top of all the application deadlines!
- Create your short list: At this point, you should have a good idea of where you want to go. Request application materials from the schools you are considering.
- Congratulate yourself: Thinks about your achievements in the classroom and in your field. Your internship or research projects could be the inspiration for a personal statement.
- Talk to your professors: You will need letter of recommendation sooner than you think. Meet with the people you plan on asking to write them.
- Take your admission exams: Your admission exam is an important part of your application. Take the earliest sitting possible. You may be able to take it again if you are unhappy with the score you received.
- Write away: Your transcript provides a quantitative evaluation of your strengths. Your personal statement fills in the blanks. Start writing early and edit as much as possible.
- Get to work: Start early! Most application deadlines fall between January and March. From transcripts and essays to test scores, you will need to have everything together by then.
- Fill out the FAFSA: If you want to receive financial aid, you will need to fill out the same for grad school as you did for college. Get the FAFSA in ASAP after January 1. Keep in mind all grad students are considered independent for federal aid calculations.
- Send your scores: Make sure your prospective schools have received your transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters. Better safe than out of luck!
- Compare offers: Keep your eye on your mailbox. Around May, you should start to receive admission offers.
- Look into alternatives: If your financial aid does not cut it, look into alternative loan programs. Remember that each one is a little different and sets its own terms, so compare borrower’s terms carefully.
- Get ready to go: You are about to start an exciting new part of your educational career. Enjoy it!