Although some students and alumni have already completed their applications to graduate and professional school, deadlines for many programs do not start arriving until November, December, or even January. Here are some strategies for making the process more manageable as deadlines approach.
- Monitor deadlines.
Be vigilant here: create a list of deadlines, and post it in a very visible location. Look at it often, and carve time out of your busy schedule to attend to all of the requirements before the deadlines.
- Plan ahead.
Avoid applying at the last minute; last-minute applications are not the best representations of yourself and your abilities. Plan at least twice as much time as you think you will need to fill out online applications, request transcripts, solicit letters of recommendation, write and revise statements of purpose, and check off all of the other requirements that might differ from school to school or program to program.
- Share your materials.
“Personal” statements should be anything but personal! Make them public, and share them with your Grinnell professors (for academic graduate programs), with professionals in your field (for professional programs), with the helpful folks at the Writing Lab, with friends who are thoughtful editors, and with others who can help ensure that you’re presenting an accurate and inspiring version of yourself, your interests, and your goals. Share any required writing samples, as well, and pay heed to—and be appreciative of—the feedback you receive.
- Keep communication open.
Apprise the folks who are helping you in this process (writers of your letters of recommendation, for example) of your progress. They are supporting you because they want you to be successful, so let them know of developments, offers, and your ultimate decision. (And feel free, of course, to solicit their advice along the way.)
- Try to relax, yet remain realistic in your expectations.
As a whole, applying to graduate or professional school is akin to taking an additional class (or more). Don’t overreach, since maintaining a balance of your normal life (academics, extracurriculars, work, wellbeing, sleep) is important.
See the 2014 Graduate & Professional School Guide for more tips.
Feel free to drop by or call the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (641-269-4940) with questions or to discuss matters of concern.