Hello Beautiful People!
As many of you all know, I recently got accepted into the graduate program of my freaking dreams – a Clinical Psychology M.S. to Ph.D. program. I applied to 12 programs (not all clinical) and will say I had a pretty successful season in my opinion. I will be sharing a more in-depth look at my graduate school application organizational system over on my youtube channel (click here to watch now). I think one of the main things that kept me sane in this process was (1.) I had a lot of help BUT (2.) I had a good system in place of how to go through this process. Hopefully, it is not geared too much towards psych programs and can help people across all disciplines!
- The first tip is to narrow down the schools you want to apply to in the summer. I won’t say I followed this tip exactly, but going into the fall semester I had a rough idea of which schools I wanted to apply for. However, I did spend about two additional weeks going through the schools with my advisors, re-evaluating my list, adding and dropping certain schools – which is okay! I think by the first or second week of September, you should have a definitive list.
- Create a chart/spreadsheet/word document of information. This sort of goes along with the first tip. You should do this as you are narrowing down your list of schools. I will go into more detail about this in that youtube video (click here to view the video). Things you could include in your spreadsheet include:
- Potential advisor(s)/Main research interest
- Type of Program/Specialization
- Program website
- The acceptance rate of applicants
- Average GRE scores
- Average GPA
- The name Professor you want to work with
- # of students funded
- #of years it takes to graduate on average
- The due date for application
- GRE test(s) required
- GRE code (for sending scores)
- Number of recommendation letters required
- Number of transcripts required
- Address to send hard copy materials
- Application fee
- The next tip I have for you is to create yourself a timeline. Now depending on how your current life situation is looking (like if you have a job or in school still), your timeline will look different. The timeline is not going to HARD deadlines, but for me, the deadline kept me on track with what I needed to do and by when. My main goal was to finish all of my applications before Thanksgiving. I also adjusted for things that could go wrong for example, I allocated extra time for my GRE scores and transcripts to arrive. Below is a screenshot of my “timeline.” – Did I meet all of these deadlines – absolutely not, but it helped keep me on track.
- This is something I wish I spent more time on, but you should absolutely budget funds/estimate how much application season is going to cost you as soon as possible. I am not sure if anyone told you but applying to graduate school is SUPER expensive and there are not a lot of scholarships out there to help you apply (however, I have heard if you ask for a fee waiver you are more likely to get one – I’m not sure how true this is but that what I heard through the grapevine). After finding the schools I wanted to apply for, I made an estimation of costs excel sheet. This included application fees, transcript fees, GRE test, and sending the GRE scores. This estimation helped me budget my stipend appropriately in the fall to make sure I had enough money to pay for everything.
- My next tip is for you to start applying as soon as possible. I believe this is the tip that saved me the most time on the tail end. As soon as the applications opened in the fall, I made accounts and filled in as much information as possible, such as name, race, and all other easy parts of the applications. Once this was done, the only parts of the applications I still had to complete was uploading my personal statements/statements of purpose, uploading my CV, sending GRE scores and transcripts and paying for the application. This made the process much more streamlined.
- Decide on an organizational system! So the biggest part of applying (outside of actually applying) is staying organized so that you don’t drive yourself crazy. Some people I know kept everything in a folder on their computer, or used multiple sheets within an excel document, while others put everything in the cloud. I personally used Microsoft One Note to create a “notebook” to keep all my checklists, to-do lists, drafts of statements/emails/etc and everything else regarding applications all in one place. This worked out the best for me. Whatever works best for you – is the method you should use!
I hope this helps you get started on this exciting process! And if you need more help or advice – don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I don’t bite 🙂