Madhuri, also a first-year Graduate Assistant in our office, generously took some time away from prepping for her first Fletcher finals season to share some advice for current applicants planning for grad school:
It’s been almost a year since I started working on graduate school applications while trying to juggle full time work and volunteer activities. I think right now is a good time to look back and think what advice I would give to myself a year ago! So here’s a few pieces of advice which I think would have been helpful for me to hear; I hope they help some of you prospective students as well!
1. Find your fit
Graduate school is really about finding an environment that will help you thrive, not just survive. So it is a very symbiotic effort to find a school that helps you grow the way you’d envisaged and also a place where you can contribute the most to your community. This requires a little bit extra research in terms of reaching out to professors about their interesting research, current students and alumni about their experiences, and students from peer schools about their impressions, and even to visit the school if possible to get the vibes! Is this an extra demand on your time? Yes. It is worth it? Absolutely!!
2. Plan, plan, PLAN!!
I CANNOT stress how important it is to plan timelines and related deliverables to just avoid periodic stress attacks!! I found it very useful to make a personal timeline for relevant exams (GRE/ GMAT/ TOEFL) in accordance with the different deadlines for graduate schools. Pre-planning also helps give enough time to really focus on essays for a few days before submission instead of doing a last minute job. A well-written, personalized and customized essay makes a HUGE difference to applications, and that usually comes with giving it enough time. Lastly, planning in advance can take the stress out of financial planning as well. Especially for us international students when foreign exchange fluctuations are no longer confined to your macroeconomics textbook!
3. Enjoy some time off!
Graduate school is a fantastic experience! But it is also an exhausting one and you really sometimes miss having unending hours over weekends to Netflix, binge eat, and sleep! It’s good idea to take advantage of some down time and rejuvenate before embarking on the next big journey of your life!