Applications, applications, applications, and more applications!!!
It gets tedious (especially with 8 apps to do!) but a big part of the applications are name, address, school, grades, etc. So it’s not hard for most of it. Just sit down with your favorite beverage (a glass of white wine for my 22 year old self) and crank them out! I put everything in a Word document and cut/pasted a lot.
The more difficult and more important parts of the application are the statements, i.e. your personal statement, i.e. why you want this so badly. I spent 3 months working on mine. Yes, you read that right. 3 months on less than three pages, single-spaced. For one, I needed 8 versions with different word limits and/or content requirements. I based 7 of the 8 off of my master statement, the version I used for the school with the largest world limit and longest list of requirements. This version alone went through at least 5 major edit sessions.
I send my forever and heartfelt thanks to the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching on campus. They helped me through the before, during, and after of my personal statement writing and with their help, I’m pretty sure my statement went from a solid 6 to at least a 9!! So, thank you Grace!!!
Anyway, what are the most important things to convey in your statement? From my experience I’d say 1) that you really, REALLY want this. 2) that you’re adequately prepared for the program. That’s really at the heart of what they want to know. They want students who will work hard and who want to be there!
Also, make sure to check if anyone wants official transcripts. A lot of schools only want an unofficial then have you bring an official to your interview. Some don’t even want the official until you’ve been accepted and have graduated undergrad. BUT some still want it and the mail is slow. So mail them out AT LEAST two weeks before the app is due. I totally had to rush mine to Stanford to get them there in time. That was a waste of money and completely stressed me out.
So, now you’ve got all the fill-in-the-blanks done, your statements uploaded, and your transcripts sent off. Time to submit! But there’s a catch. Most applications have a fee. Mine ranged from $40 to $140 each. There are programs where you can apply for a fee waiver and if it is difficult for you to pay the fees, apply to these before sending in your app! Don’t let a few $100s now keep you from your dream grad program!!
On the topic of money: You a science person? You want to go to grad school? I don’t know how other subjects do it, but if you’re going for a PhD (not a Masters), THEY PAY YOU to go to school. That’s right. School becomes an actual paying job and the program covers your tuition for you. Pretty sweet deal, no?
And the final thing. Send an email to the admissions coordinator of your program of interest. Make sure they got everything!