Planning for Graduate School During Winter Break!

I am so excited for this post! I have been breaking my back trying to figure out how I’m going to decide where to apply to graduate school, when to apply, and howto keep myself organized. Let me tell you a quick story: It is the spring of junior year and as an over zealous honor student: I planned for application season really early. I was asking teachers for recommendation letters and had already taken my standardized tests 2 times each. My Common App account was made the day it opened in August and had all my applications submitted at least two weeks before the deadline.

I don’t know why I have been freaking out because I know good and well how to be organized and ready for application season. Researching schools and finding locations that work best for me were right up my alley. I figured I would make some cute free printables, so that you could also be on top of things! I’m also going to write out some tips and a schedule to follow for 2 weeks of your break, so that you can take a couple of days off for the holiday and Netflix! Happy Grad School Planning friends.

Make A To Do List

This was the first thing that I did and I went from there when creating my 14-day schedule.

  • Research programs and make sure you understand the fundamental goals of each program.
  • Figure out where your ideal school would be located: city vs. rural vs. large vs. small.
  • Select 4 schools for each category: Reach, Mid-Range, Safety.
    Create an information sheet that you can fill out for each school. [I did this for you.]
  • Identify ideal GRE test dates and register for any applicable.
    Start identifying potential recommendation letter writers and plan out how to build these.
  • Look for career networking opportunities on campus.
    Relax and treat yourself for being awesome.

Use Grad School Search Engines

Personally, I loved the Princeton Review Graduate School Search Engine to point me in a general direction of schools with programs that I was interested in. Your intended field likely has various different types of available programs at multiple schools across the country. Make sure you look at the goals of the program to make sure that they align with yours! You can also use this to select for location, size, and prestige! I would say this is a pretty good starting point. Try these:

Princeton Review Search Engine
Peterson’s Search Engine
US News & World Report Search Engine

Free Printable Graduate School Information Sheet

I made one of  these for applying to undergraduate and I’ve tweaked it a little bit to include all the necessary characteristics of graduate school that I may not have needed to consider for undergraduate! It’s also a fillable PDF so you can type it in and print it out and add it to your grad school binder… don’t have one of these? It must just be me. Oh.

Free Printable

Applying and Preparing for Summer Internships

I think that summer research internships and fellowships are one of the best ways to build your resume and gain skills that will make you even more prepared for your career. I was able to spend the summer learning how to conduct research from some of the top experts in my field and I was also paid to spend the summer in one of my new favorite cities. There are hundreds of opportunities like these around the country for all different majors and interests.

I’d recommend mixing in graduates school preparation with applications for summer internships. Since I am applying to science programs, most are not due until the end of January/beginning of February; but that has never stopped me from getting ahead and it’s much easier to do it now then when I have class everyday and volunteering in my free time! I’m also applying to fellowships in Chapel Hill to also give me some options close to home! If you are a science major or interested in science research, you can apply to REU programs. Most major universities have one {or several}!

My 14 Day Preparation Plan

1: Find Programs to fit in my 3 categories [12 total schools]

2: Fill out information sheets for 4 schools.

3: Identify a GRE Test Date

4: Netflix and Chill

5: Fill out information sheets for 4 schools.

6: Purchase study materials or sign up for GRE Test Prep.

7: Netflix and Chill

8: Fill out information sheets for 4 schools.

9: Write essays and fill out applications for summer internships.

10: Netflix and Chill

11: Email professors and PIs for recommendation letters.

12: Write essays and fill out applications for summer internships.

13: Netflix and Chill

14: Write essays and fill out applications for summer internships.

Hopefully, this was a useful post and helped you get organize for applying and preparing for graduate school. Where do you want to go to graduate school to study? Dream schools anyone? Leave them down in the comments below!