Managing the Graduate Application Process

Graduate school applications can initially feel like a daunting experience. Taking the GRE, writing your personal statement, finding the right programs, etc….the list of things to do seems endless! At least that is how I felt after only a few minutes into my graduate school search. But do not despair!  Here are some tips I found helpful during my own graduate school application process.

1) Keep graduate school hard copy materials in one place. I know that sounds pretty straightforward but if you are like me and you applied to several graduate programs,  you probably have received emails, brochures, business cards, and other material from many schools. Having all that material in one central location like a folder or binder (and separated by school) will help you easily access important information.  If you have all this information online or on your computer, it can also help to have a spreadsheet, detailing the different application requirements and deadlines for each school.

2) Create bookmarks on your web browser for the specific graduate programs in which you are interested . Bookmarking or saving the link of your programs of interest saves you a great deal of time. I did not bookmark the school websites at first and found it tedious to have to navigate through each site any time I wanted to check more information on a particular program.

3) Set SMART goals.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals can be used as  effective ways   to accomplish a particular objective by breaking it down to smaller, more “measurable” and manageable steps.  For example, I gave myself a month during the fall to finalize my list of schools and another month to work exclusively on my personal statement. Breaking down the application process and setting smaller deadlines for myself allowed me to focus on individual aspects of the process without feeling overwhelmed.

I hope these tips will help you as much as they helped me. Best of luck!

Jessica Acosta is Master’s in Education candidate in the Higher Education Program.  Deeply passionate about issues of race, equity, and college access, Jessica aims to gain knowledge and tools to promote a deeper understanding of multicultural issues and to help students of color strive towards academic success in college and beyond.