Applying under a tight time frame
In our last blog, we discussed some factors in making the decision to apply to graduate school: go vs. no-go for this application season. If you decided to move forward – kudos to you! Hopefully you’d have put enough thought into the decision, including listing the pros/cons with the least amount of emotional clutter getting in your way of rational judgment.
In that case, we’ve got some serious work do to over the holiday season. Strap in and get ready for a step-by-step process to get you out of those tight cement walls and start rollin’. While others will be singing holiday cheer, you will be focused on formulating a compelling application. Look at the bright side – you can still have egg nog (non-spiked, of course), you have a reason not to go to the holiday party, and there is no way you have time to visit your in-laws!!!
Step 1. Create an Admit.me profile to get your admissions profile as a candidate vetted by experts. We can’t emphasize enough: There is absolutely no point in starting the application process if you aren’t a good candidate (waste in time and money). We’ll tell you even if you don’t want to hear it. It’s better to hear what you need, not what you want.
Step 2. Assuming that you’re a good graduate school candidate, here are a few things that you need to IMMEDIATELY check off from your to-do list if you haven’t yet, to make sure they don’t hold you up with the application process:
- Take the GMAT or GRE. Most schools require it and it’s not negotiable. Get it scheduled immediately. If you already have a score, but it’s not great, you may be able to re-take it after you apply (check with the school) and submit an update
- Choose and prep your recommenders. Actually, the holiday is not a bad time to catch recommenders – they usually have some down time. Let your recommenders know ASAP and send them the recommendation forms right away; buy them something better than a fruitcake for the holidays!
- Keep track of the requirements for each graduate school. You may need a TOEFL, you may need to schedule your interviews, etc. Make sure you have everything you need to apply.
- Order a transcript from your undergraduate institution. If you don’t have a transcript, you will need it for your GPA. Most schools are self-reported, but if you don’t have your transcript, you likely have a higher impression of your actual GPA (history tends to be flattering) and may unintentionally mislead the admissions committee.
Step 3. The next set of tasks is to put together a list of schools you’re applying to and organize by deadline. Prioritize schools by a combination of application deadline and your personal ranking of each graduate school. Note, if you have a rolling deadline, you will normally consider their scholarship deadline as the actual deadline. I suggest adding significant detail to the application calendar including your daily accomplishments – the key is to stick to the calendar. When you miss something, make it up (remember being sick in grade school – yeah, like that).
Step 4. This is the hard part – execution of your plans. You will need to treat the applications like another job. This means setting apart a couple of hours each day to work on the applications. I suggest you cancel some weekend activities, get up 1-2 hrs before your normal wake-up, or go to a coffee shop after work rather than marching straight to your sofa and the TV. Try your best to eliminate unnecessary distractions(What about putting aside social media or Candy Crush for awhile?), focus on eating well, get some regular exercise, and get good sleep. This will be a battle, but you gotta stick with it. If you don’t try your best, you will not get the results that you want.
Step 5. Finally, leverage resources. Admit.me has an Ask a Question forum – you don’t have time to ask a bunch of friends, or Google stuff that could be wrong. Go straight to the source to get good information. Don’t be afraid to use a coach (www.admitadvantage.com) to help you tighten up your story. Just investing in a few hours could be what you need to make sure you stay on track and make it through to the finish line on time. Good luck!
Never apply alone,