Hi, friends! Today’s post is the second part to my earlier post on the “Grad School Application Timeline: Junior Year”. In today’s post, let’s talk about what you can do to prepare for graduate school during your senior year!
During your senior year, things get tough because now you REALLY have to worry about applications along with your regular classes. It’s time consuming, but you can do it! As long as you give yourself enough time and are organized about it. Here’s the graduate school timeline for your senior year:
Fall (August-December), Senior Year
Take the GRE again, if necessary
If you’ve taken the GRE once, you need to wait 21 days before you can take it again. This is good, because it gives you a chance to continue studying before re-taking it. Spend some more time studying the concepts you feel weak in. Then, go for it again!Here's what you should be doing during your senior year to prepare for graduate school applications! Click To Tweet
Ask for recommendations
One of the most important parts of your application is the letter of recommendation (or multiple letters!). It’s good form to ask for these letters well in advance of the deadline, since your professors are probably very busy people. I’d recommend asking them around September or October, since most program deadlines are in December or January. Ask only professors who know you well (for example, if you work in their lab or were a stellar student in their class), since they will be the ones most qualified to talk about your character. Send them your CV/resume, since it will help them write your letter.
Apply to any recruitment events
Many programs have recruitment events, where prospective graduate students spend a weekend visiting campus and getting to know the current faculty and graduate students. This is a great opportunity to determine if a school is a good fit for you. If you’re there and you get a bad feeling, it’s probably not the place for you. But if you go and you fall in love with the place and with the people, apply! It’s also a good chance to see the labs whose work you are interested in.
Sometimes, these applications can be a process, so give yourself time.
Double check that you have all the supplemental materials
Most programs will ask you for your CV/resume, transcripts, and a personal statement. But the requirements for each program are different, so be sure to keep them straight! I’d recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet to keep yourself organized. For example, one program might require an official transcript (which you will have to submit a formal request and pay for), and the other might be fine with an unofficial transcript that you can easily download for free. Similarly, one program might be fine with just a personal statement, but the other program might want you to submit an additional statement talking about your research experiences. Make sure you have all these requirements down pat! You don’t want it to be deadline day only to realize that you’re missing an important part of your application.
Submit your application!
It’s finally time to submit your applications! Try your best to submit your applications before the deadline. Submitting on deadline day shouldn’t hurt your chances of getting in, but isn’t much easier knowing that you don’t have to worry about your applications anymore?
Spring (January-April), Senior Year
Early on in the spring, you will start hearing back from schools about whether they want you to come in for an interview. This is similar to the recruitment event (since the school is still selling itself to you and you are still selling yourself to the school), but you will be interviewed.
Keep an eye on your email inbox in mid to late spring, since that’s when they’ll be sending out acceptances!
Senior year is crunch time for graduate school applications. As I said before, please give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to make yourself any more stressed than you already are.
Good luck on your applications!