Hi, friends! I’m sorry I’ve been absent from my blog lately. My classes (I’m looking at you, organic chemistry) and my graduate school applications have been taking up a lot of my time. But in my absence, I learned a lot about the graduate school application process, and I’d like to share it with you all! So I decided to write a post about a good graduate school application timeline. In this post, I will focus on what you should be doing during your junior year to prepare for your graduate school applications.
Here's what you should be doing during your junior year to prepare for graduate school applications! Click To Tweet
Spring (January-April), Junior Year
Now that you’ve decided to continue your education through graduate school, start doing some general research on grad programs in your field. How long do they generally take? How much do they cost? Which programs are the best? Don’t get too bogged down on picking a favorite program just yet. For now, just do some research to make sure that grad school is for you.
Summer (May-July), Junior Year
It’s a very good idea to spend the summer of junior year interning. I did an out of state internship the summer between my junior and senior years, and it was a great experience. Internships will help you not only get a better idea of what a career in your field is like, but it’ll also provide you with many connections. I’m a Florida girl, but because of my internship, I have connections in New York that can help me throughout my application process.
Seriously narrow down the programs you’re interested in
Back in the spring when you did your general research, you might have found a few programs you would be interested in. Now it’s time to seriously consider which programs you want to apply to. Check out the program’s mission statement. Check out the type of research that’s happening there. Could you see yourself working in a lab there? Would you be happy on that campus? Narrow it down to about 10 programs you are especially interested in, and about 3 labs in each program whose work you are interested in. Take note of your top four programs, as you’ll send them your GRE scores right away.
Early summer: Study for GRE
For most graduate programs, you are required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Give yourself plenty of time to study for it and to take it. Buy a couple of GRE Test Prep books and spend a good amount of time reading those and taking the practice tests. You can also invest in a test prep course. Also, take advantage of the free practice test ETS gives you when you register for the GRE. You should also register far in advance, especially if you want to take a subject test, since seats fill up very quickly.
Late summer: Take the GRE
Get the GRE out of the way before your senior year starts! This way, you have plenty of time to re-take it if you didn’t do your best, and if you did do well, you don’t have to worry about it again.
Junior year might seem early to be worrying about grad school applications, but it really isn’t. I highly recommend starting your preparations during your junior year so that you don’t have to slap together your application during your senior year. Applications take time. Make sure you are giving yourself enough of it! After all, this is a very important investment in your future, and it you want it to be done well.
You shouldn’t be too worried about applications yet during your junior year. Still, use this time to figure out your options and what you might want to do in the future. You will be thankful you did! Next week, I’ll talk about what you should be doing during your senior year to prepare your applications.
Disclaimer: When it comes to grad school application stuff, I don’t have all the answers. I’m a student, just like you! I’m just giving you advice based on my personal experiences. If you need someone more qualified to answer your questions, try reaching out to your professors.