After choosing the grad schools you wish to attend, the process of applying to the schools will take a great deal of time and effort. Although the requirements vary by school, most grad schools require the following materials:
This will be required for all schools. This is probably the easiest part of the application process since it requires mostly standard information such as legal name, address, major information, etc. Many schools have digitized the entire application process making it simpler for the student and the institution. When you fill out the application, you will be required to submit the fee which will range depending on the institution.
This is probably the most difficult aspect of applying to grad school. Most school want a sample that is 10 – 20 pages in length and displays a depth of research. The first thing to consider is which of your papers to choose. Choose a paper that has well researched, and, if possible, displays originality. Once you have chosen your writing sample, edit, edit, edit. The paper I chose was edited by three different papers and two fellow students. This gives you a wider audience to help you clarify points that may not be common knowledge to those in your field. Finally, it is important to choose a stopping point. At some point, you have to say enough editing; it is ready. You should then be ready to submit the paper.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
When researching schools, you should consider which members of the faculty you wish to work with. It is important to write a slightly different statement of purpose for each school to which you are applying. This will show the school that you have researched their institution. Your statement of purpose should list your intent at each institution, including which professors you would like to work with. You should also write about what you would like to do after you graduate from that institution. Do you plan to go on for a PhD? What type of career are you looking into? Most importantly, have several people read this as well. They can find simple error and issues with clarity. Having a professor read your statement of purpose is a great idea since they probably wrote a statement of purpose during their graduate career. Again, once you are happy with it, stop editing and consider it done.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Most people find this to be the easiest part of the application process, but it is probably the most important. Choose professors who know your research habits, classroom participation, and graduate intent. Most schools require three letters and not all the professors have to be from professors within your major. However, the majority should be from professors within your chosen major. It is okay, therefore, to submit one letter from a professor within your minor field. Once you have chosen the professors, provide them with all the address information they will need to submit their letters and be sure they get them in before the deadline. Today, most schools accept letters online as well.
Perhaps one of the most dreaded aspects of applying to grad school is taking the GRE. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to take the test a few times if necessary and have the scores submitted to your chosen institutions. Registration is all online and the test itself is given on the computer. Before taking the GRE, purchase a preparation book and study it closely. There are many books available and it is best to only choose one and follow their methods for preparation. GRE scores are not the most important aspect to a graduate school when choosing from applicants, but it can make a difference in a competitive program, so take it seriously.
This is fairly simple as well. Have your current and previous institutions send official transcripts to all your chosen grad schools. Some institutions may charge to send transcripts for you, but these are required to be considered.
This is the most important! Be sure everything is submitted before the application deadline. This deadline will vary by institution and can also vary by program within an institution. It is important to know all the deadlines for you schools well in advance of the date. There is nothing wrong with having everything submitted in advanced of the deadline or calling the program to ensure that all your materials have arrived.
Applying for grad school can be very stressful, but it will not be near as stressful as the wait to hear the school’s decisions.