A College Student's Guide to Applying to Grad School

For some college students, the eventual completion of their four-year degree signifies not a sigh of relief or an entry-level position with a company, but instead more school! For these individuals, applying to an advanced degree program contains its own unique set of challenges and expectations. If you are one of these students, here are three tips to help you along your path to graduate school. 

1. Examine your decision to attend graduate school – then examine it again

Pursuing a graduate degree upon completion of your Bachelor’s is not an inherently poor choice. It is, however, a decision that can prompt a surprising number of negative reactions from family, friends, and professors. While the majority of these responses will ultimately be of little consequence to you, two are valid. 

First, does your intended field of study prefer its applicants to possess “real world” experience? Certain programs, such as business management and creative writing, feel professional expertise and time outside the college “bubble” can deepen the impact and success of their curricula. In some instances, this is a suggestion—in others, a requirement. Second, are you prepared to devote an additional two to seven years to academia? Both a Master’s and a Doctorate degree require intense devotion to a given subject. Do you have the necessary drive and focus immediately following four years of college? Or would a gap year do you well? You may also want to take a look at this information to determine if grad school is the right option for you.

2. Develop a schedule that balances your various graduate and undergraduate commitments

If you are still confident in your decision to attend graduate school, congratulations! Young graduate students often lend enthusiasm and a uniqueness of perspective to their programs. Note, however, that the application process can be grueling. Organization and time management are imperative for success. Here are the best classes for grad school admissions that you may want to take a look at as well.

Typically, graduate school applications are due late in the fall semester or at the start of the spring semester. If possible, schedule difficult undergraduate classes in the latter half of the year—or, if you decide upon graduate school as a junior, complete them then. Designate one or two days per week to create and polish your personal statement, resume, etc. Adhere to this arrangement. A graduate school is unlikely to accept you if your grades plummet as a result of your application preparation, so give equal focus to your undergraduate commitments to avoid this predicament. These are some great tips on how to write an application essay for grad school.  

3. Establish and abide by important wellness measures

It is very likely that your senior year of college will be a stressful one. For the majority of prospective graduate students, this potential reality is well worth weathering. Walking at graduation can be especially meaningful with an acceptance letter in hand, as well as the comfort of a clear future.

To minimize the effects of stress, eat well and maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Do not allow yourself to work late into the night on an application or assignment—the quality of your effort is liable to be poor, as a result. Instead, arrange meals with friends. Socializing is excellent for your state of mind. Reserve weekends or other periods of time for recreation you enjoy. See a film or sporting event, or visit a new city. And exercise often. Physical exertion sharpens your senses and relieves tension.

Best of luck with your applications!