Guide to grad school apps

Courtesy of MCT Campus

Courtesy of MCT Campus

Mary Graci

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Halloween may be over, but there’s one thing still haunting the upperclassmen on campus: applying to grad school.
The fall semester is coming to an end and with it, the next step in your college career is creeping ever closer. For some, that next step is grad school.

As young naive high schoolers, applying to college was a no-brainer. Fill out a few applications, write a handful of essays, try to snag as many scholarships as possible, then just pick the city farthest from your parents.

Grad school, on the other hand, can be a daunting task. Something like a guide to applying to grad school for the average college junior would be a handy tool around this time of year.

So, here’s a guide to applying to grad school.

First of all, start early. If your after-college plans include grad school, junior year should be your time for researching programs and figuring out what schools work best for your degree.

Students applying to grad school have to take a standardized test, similar to the ACT and SAT everyone dreaded waking up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning for.

These tests are the GREs, and most students look to take them the summer before their senior year. Making that score can easily cause a few sleepless nights, but you shouldn’t fret too much — you can take the test more than once.

Once you’ve thought about schools and have taken the GRE, it’s time to start the application process.

This is where the advisors in the campus career development center become your best friends, helping you write personal statements and filling out applications.

Applications usually come with a not-so-budget-friendly fee, so though applying to dozens of schools seems like the best way to guarantee you get into at least one or two, it can easily rack up a hefty bill. Applying to three or four schools is usually a good place to start.

After you’ve written enough essays and personal statements over the years, it tends to come down to a formula, something you can easily churn out without much thought. However, with something as serious as a grad school application, students need to find what sets them apart from the crowd and make sure that shines through in those essays.

Remember, these applications are being reviewed by graduate faculty and they’re looking for students that stand out from the hundreds or thousands of applications they receive every year. GRE scores are important, but internship experience and the trend of a good standing in your major classes are just as important. These schools look at your overall narrative as a college student and base their decisions on you as a whole, not just a few numbers on a sheet of paper.

Three of the biggest mistakes grad school applicants make during this process is (1) not triple checking for typos, (2) adding too much flattery and fluff in the essays, and (3) asking for recommendation letters too late.

So juniors, start your engines and begin the search for that perfect school.

Seniors, by this time, you’re probably finishing up applications, sending them out, and praying for that one acceptance letter that could shape your future for the next four years.

However, don’t be afraid to take a gap year. Some graduate programs prefer students with some prior work experience, so a year or two in the field is sometimes better than jumping feet first into another school.

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