Created by Bud Gankhuyag, admissions counselor at Columbia University
1. Speak with mentors/advisors in your desired field
Sample questions to ask:
- I’ve been thinking about going to grad school in your field. What would you say are the most important factors when making this decision?
- Do you have any programs in mind that could particularly suit my interests, or any faculty?
- Where are the major literature and research interests in the field currently at and possibly heading in the future?
- Do you have any other advice for me?
2. Create an application schedule
- Budget a minimum 8-10 months of preparation before application deadlines (not desired start term). One year is ideal.
- Look up deadlines and plan backwards
- Budget a minimum 3 months to study for standardized tests. For LSAT and MCAT, 6 months.
3. Research schools and programs
- The program fit will depend on how your interests align with that of the faculty and curriculum
- Reputation of the university < Reputation of the program
- Factors of location and lifestyle are important but secondary
4. Secure recommendation letters
-Every program will request 2-3 recommendation letters from professors and/or supervisors
5. Plan a 1-2 year grad school budget
- Application costs
- Test registration, application fees, transcript delivery fees, enrollment deposit
- Review federal loan opportunities if you qualify. Remember fafsa?
- Research scholarships, grants, and fellowships
- From the program/school/
- From outside orgs
- Consider how much savings you would be able/willing to put toward in your graduate studies
- Living expenses
- What skills and experience can help you make a living while you study?
- Your grad student status can also help open new opportunities
- What opportunities exist on campus?
- See if your department or undergraduate counterparts hire TAs
- Look for office/research assistantship programs
- Check job listings
- Contact your academic director
6. Prepare for your program!
- Unless your program is highly technical/professional and the material lies behind closed doors, it never hurts to...
- Re-read major books
- Read new book
- Peruse literature reviews and recent research in your field