Applying to graduate school? Here are some important steps

In this part-two segment, Candid Career offers thoughtful insights for students applying to graduate school.

By Taylor Garner ’20, student ambassador

First, you need to ask yourself, why do you want to go back to school? What are your goals? And how will graduate school help you reach them?

In our last article “Should you consider going to graduate school” we help students navigate these questions.

Next, research the graduate programs that you are interested in. It’s really helpful to make connections right away.

  • Who are the professors that you would want to learn from? What is their experience? What type of research are they conducting?
  • Request published materials from the university.
  • Talk to current graduate students in your field of interest.
  • Talk to professionals in the field and ask professors for advice when deciding on a program.
  • Think about the cost benefit.
  • Look at scholarships and loan programs offered by the school and/or department. Remember, you have to pay for it!

Here are some of the applications and deadlines outlined by Candid Career in a timeline recommended by Princeton Review:


  • Take a GRE [LSAT, MCAT, GMAT] practice test


  • Sign up for prep classes based on your results
  • Register for the GRE general test
  • Look into the guidelines from the universities you’re interested in applying to


  • Request information from the university and talk to professors about the
    different programs (start making those connections!)


  • Develop your personal statement or essay
  • Take the GRE [LSAT, MCAT, GMAT] and sign up for another one if you don’t like your scores


  • Finalize your list of perspective schools
  • Contact your recommenders


  • Request your official transcripts
  • Send recommenders necessary materials to write the letter of rec (i.e.: resume, personal statement, etc.).
  • Plan campus visits if you can (meet with potential professors)


  • Have professors and other trusted individuals look over your personal statement for revisions (make an appointment with the SPDC)


  • Submit all application forms, transcripts, essays/test scores, and letters of recommendation at least 2 weeks prior to the deadline!
  • Contact the university to make sure they received all necessary materials


When you are deciding between which graduate program to attend, consider the cost benefit (as always) and the scholarships that are available. Also think about the school ranking and which professors you would most like to learn from. Don’t forget that location matters. You will be here for at least 2-years—not to mention possible jobs afterwards—so think ahead and decide whether that city is the best fit for you.

Finally, thank your recommenders with a personal note. Contact the SPDC with any questions or concerns. We are here to help you along this journey.