Application Timetable for Graduate School

If youre thinking about going to graduate school, you should begin planning at least 15 months before the program starts.

Here is a typical application timetable:

June to August

  • Think about what type of graduate school you want to attend and what you want to achieve.
  • Compile a list of potential graduate schools youd like to attend.
  • Visit the grad school websites to see what the application process is like
  • Start thinking about who should write recommendations for you
  • Research financial aid sources for grad students
  • Find out what standardized tests youll need to take – and how much time youll need to prepare. For example: GMAT (Business School), LSAT (Law School), MCAT (Medical School), GRE (Humanities) . . .
  • Research test preparation courses for your program

September

  • Request applications if the schools website doesnt provide it online
  • Register for any standardized tests you need to take
  • Write a first draft of your application essay
  • Take a test preparation course
  • Start visiting graduate schools you are serious about attending
  • Request your undergraduate transcripts
  • Create a list of schools you plan on applying to (with their application deadlines)

October/November

  • Start talking with those people you want to recommend you, and ask them to submit their recommendation within a month
  • Take your standardized exam(s)

December

  • Write a second draft of your positioning paper
  • Submit your applications for financial aid
  • Make sure all recommendation letters have been sent in

January

  • Complete your final draft of your application essay and have it proofread by several different people
  • Submit your loan/scholarship applications
  • Send in your application essays, forms, et al. to the schools

February

  • Prepare yourself for any upcoming interviews at the grad schools you applied to
  • Make sure all the grad schools have received your complete application

Upon Acceptance

  • Notify the school you plan on attending
  • Plan on leaving your job
  • Have a party – and get ready for several years of hard work and drinking tons of coffee

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How to Choose a College Major

Your college major is just one part of your college education.

Youll probably devote only a third of your total course work on your major. And most of your time will be spent on general requirement courses and electives.

That said – your college major is important if youre choosing a particular career field. And its also important if you want to get into a particular grad school program.

So here are some tips on what you should consider before choosing a college major:

Dont choose a major until youre absolutely sure.

The worst move is to choose a major without seriously thinking about it. Its best to be undecided until you know for sure what major is for you. Sure, the academic bureaucrats want you to choose a major quickly, but dont let them stress you out. Choose your major when youre ready.

Talk with academic counselors.

If you know that you want to work in a particular career field like law, health care, or journalism take the time to visit with an academic counselor at your college. They are there to help you decide on classes and majors that will fit with your career interests.

Take a personality/career test.

Many career centers offer free testing to students who are trying to figure out a career field. Take these tests as soon as you can. Youd be surprised how revealing these tests are about what types of careers you should consider. Your unique personality type will work well within certain career fields, and these tests will highlight those careers for you.

Think of the long-range marketability of the major.

I strongly believe you should take college classes that interest you. And that you should choose a major you are passionate about. However, its also important to think about college majors that will help you with your future career. And if youre planning on going into a grad program, you need to choose a major that will interest that grad school.

Consider minoring in the less marketable subject.

If youre very passionate about Womens Literature, then this might be a good subject to minor in. However, if youre ultimate goal is to go to law school consider majoring in political science, which will give you a strong background in public policy and help you later in grad school.

Think beyond your first job out of college.

No matter what career field you choose, think big when choosing your college major. For example, lets say that you want to work in journalism after college. Well, theres a possibility youll be in a management role within 10 or 15 years. And thats why a well-rounded college education that included accounting, media law, and business administration would be important. So take courses outside your major because you never know what you might be doing 15 years from now. And if you want to be in a management or director role in the future, a background in business is always very helpful.

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