Column: Graduate school application tips and tricks

By Farrah Blaydes, Staff Reporter

Applying to undergrad was a pain, but applying to graduate school is an even bigger pain.

For ambitious seniors facing the perils of grad school applications, I’ve gathered some tips and tricks that would make the process a lot smoother.

1. Apply to more than one school


There’s nothing worse than the tedious process of weeding out the schools you like when applying for grad school.

Although you may be sold on one particular school it’s important to expand your options beyond a single university because there’s always the chance you might not get in.

There’s also the possibility another university can offer you more in regards to your field of study and you may like the university a lot better.

2. Calculate the Cost, Budget and Save

Grad school itself is not only expensive, but the application process can put a damper on your already stretched broke-college student budget.

If you’ve ever sat with your advisor, which hopefully you have by this point, they would have told you to apply to at least five schools.

For the lucky folk whose school doesn’t have a application fee, this particular part doesn’t apply to you.


However, most of us aren’t that lucky. When applications are nearly $60 applying to more than one can be extremely difficult.

So saving your money and investing in schools you actually like can benefit you later.

3. Standardized testing. Yay or nay?

Standardized tests like the graduate management admission test, law school admissions test and the graduate records test are often mandatory for admission into most grad schools.

These test are state administered and typically examine your possible success in graduate school.

Granted, each test is different for certain areas of interest.

What most people don’t know about these exams is the amount of studying and money they’re going to spend to prepare for and take them.

Professors and test taking experts often suggest you purchase a book or join a class to aid in your success with the test but the books are often $40 a piece, in addition to the cost of the exam.

For example, the LSAT is roughly $380 non-refundable. Being knowledgeable of potential cost will help your application process run smoothly with little to no surprises.

4. Letters of recommendation can make all the difference

William Higgs, a senior studying philosophy said letters of recommendation are the most important part of applying to grad school.

“Make sure you stay in touch with your letter writers. A strong letter can make or break an application, so make sure you find your letter writers soon and keep on regular contact with them throughout the application process,” Higgs said.

5. Express interest before your application is due

Reach out to the admission team at your school of interest.

It may seem weird to email a person you’ve never met about your potential interest in a school you’ve never attended but it can benefit you in the long run.

Showing the dean of admissions or an admissions counselor you’re interested before your application is due shows that you’re a dedicated individual who’s serious about your future at their institution.

6. Search out all possible scholarships

As you have noticed from previous points grad school is expensive.

Having a scholarship is sometimes the difference between being able to attend school and not pursuing your degree.

Generally when you submit your application you’re automatically considered for scholarships but it doesn’t help to seek outside aid that can help with your expenses of which you will have plenty.

7. Have a professional check your personal statement

These are a little different from the ones you give the police. When applying for undergrad most of us completed some kind of personal statement.

These are letters to the admissions team on why you want to attend, why you choose that specific program and how you would be a great asset to their school.

This part of the process is extremely important so take advantage of the free writing centers we have on campus and have your professors take a look.

You’re already paying for your current degree here, so start making it pay for you.

Staff reporter Farrah Blaydes can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Farrah_Blaydes.

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