We’re at that point in the year where our focus is squarely on current applicants for September 2017 enrollment — though we’re also looking forward to meeting our newest Januarians next week — and it can be easy to forget that lots of applicants are just starting their research into graduate school options. Some time back, Laurie gave a presentation to undergraduates and suggested that future applicants should plan on a one-year application preparation timeline — 18 months if possible. We know well that many people follow a much more compressed timeline, but that doesn’t mean that the early preparation wouldn’t be preferable for most. To help out the (admittedly few) blog readers who may be planning September 2018 enrollment, I’d like to share Laurie’s suggested application timeline. Here’s how she suggested organizing the different tasks ahead of someone new to the process.
One year in advance:
- Start researching schools.
- Begin to track application deadlines and requirements. (Build a spreadsheet.)
- Investigate external scholarship opportunities.
- Prepare and register for standardized testing.
Nine months in advance:
- Continue school research.
- Have your academic records translated if necessary.
- Take standardized tests — be sure to list schools where you want the results sent.
- Start thinking about potential recommenders, especially if you haven’t stayed in contact with professors from your undergraduate program.
- Compile notes to be used as the basis of your essays and personal statements.
- Apply to outside scholarships.
Six months in advance:
- Update and clean up your résumé.
- Retake standardized tests if necessary.
- Prepare a general statement of purpose to be shared with your recommenders.
- Finalize the list of schools you will be applying to.
- Create a financial plan.
Three months in advance:
- Start filling out applications.
- Finalize your essays and personal statements. (Proofread!)
- Contact your potential recommenders. (Provide them with your resume and statement of purpose.)
One month before the application deadline:
- Finalize applications for admission and scholarships.
- Check in with your recommenders.
- Submit your applications before the deadlines. (Waiting to the last minute will be stressful!)
After application submission: Continue to learn about the schools you applied to.
That last point, of course, pertains to those of you who are applying this year! Don’t wait until April to do your research.