This action plan is not intended for students seeking admission to Medical School or Law School. Alternate resources and advice are available for students seeking admission to Medical School and Law School.

1. Research Graduate Schools

A. First consult Petersons Guide to Graduate Schools to find which schools have the academic programs you seek and information on application deadlines, acceptance rates, standardized admission testing requirements, number of assistantships, etc. Hard copies of the Petersons Guide to Graduate Schools are available at the CSD.

B. Once you have identified a set of graduate schools that match your selection criteria (right location, a history of providing assistantships, viable acceptance rate, etc.), read research posted by graduate school faculty at the graduate program website to determine whether the research being done at the graduate school matches your interests. This is a critical step in the research process that cannot be overlooked. The information you gather at this stage will help you address the question “Why do you wish to pursue graduate study at (name of school)?” in the application essay.

C. Learn more about common forms of financial aid in graduate school.

2. Communicate with Graduate School Faculty (Not for Medical School or Law School Applicants)

There are at least two goals in making contact with faculty prior to applying or during the application process: a) to gather necessary information and b) to create an identity for yourself as an applicant. The first goal should be self-explanatory. The second goal relates to the reality that graduate school faculty make admissions decisions. (At the undergraduate level, admission decisions are made by administrative staff in the Office of Admissions — not by faculty in different academic programs. In graduate school, the faculty have all the say in who is admitted to their academic programs.) So, any correspondence you have with departmental faculty during the admission process is an opportunity for faculty (who make admission decisions) to form an impression about you — which is why you should always read all the information about the graduate program online before e-mailing graduate professors with questions. Learn more about the “right” kind of questions to ask graduate school faculty and how to ask the questions.

3. Prepare for Your Required Standardized Admission Test

Your research about graduate program admission requirements on Petersons Guide to Graduate Schools (see above) should have yielded information about which — if any — standardized admission test is required of your graduate program. Learn more about the structure of and test preparation resources for the

 

4. Register for Your Required Standardized Admission Test

See links above for registration information and test-center sites nationwide.


5. Request Letters of Recommendation

Request letters from faculty in whose classes you have earned good grades, from faculty who are organized and responsible enough to provide the letter on time, and from faculty whose discipline relates to your graduate program. You may request letters of recommendation from internship or work supervisors if the internship/work relates to your graduate school academic program. Do not supply “personal” (family/friends) references unless specifically requested. Learn more about how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation.


6. Draft Essay/Personal Statement

Consult with CSD career counselor, faculty, and others for ideas

  • Consult with the Writing Center for feedback/assistance
  • Consult with CSD career counselor, faculty, and others for feedback


7. Edit Draft of Essay

  • Consult with the Writing Center for feedback/assistance
  • Consult with CSD career counselor, faculty, and others for feedback


8. File Applications
(by admissions deadline)

Standing Suggestions

  • Keep up your GPA during the application process; fulfill your course work obligations
  • Save money for applications, exam fees, and travel associated with your application process
  • Operate under the “one-a-day” principle to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the process. If the one thing you do for the day is spend 30 minutes reviewing sample questions for your standardized admission test, you’re done for the day. If the one thing you do for the day is write to a professor to request a letter of recommendation, you’re done for the day. If the one thing you do is spend 30 minutes researching graduate schools online, you’re done for the day. Following this approach, you will be more productive with less stress.

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