As a fourth year coming to the daunting conclusion that, in just over a month, I will be a BAS alumni rather than a BAS student, much of my time has been spent reflecting on these last few years of interdisciplinarity. When it came time to write this blog post, I wanted to see if there was any accumulated wisdom I could impart. So without further adieu here are a few tips from a soon-to-be graduate on how to get into grad school!
First off, start researching different grad programs as early as you can. I started in the summer of my second year but I didn’t find the programs that I would eventually be applying to until the summer of my third year. It takes a lot of time, both to figure out what you want to do and then to figure out which programs and which schools are going to let you do that. It doesn’t help that university websites aren’t quite the most user friendly interfaces on the web.
So, once you’ve found the perfect program (or programs), start preparing your applications. The more work that you can do on your applications in the summer the easier your last year will be. The last thing that you want is to have to worry about writing your statement of interest and coming up with a writing sample while also trying to get great grades in five courses. De-stress your life and do it over the summer.
Next, make a timeline for yourself. One of the hardest things I found about applying to grad schools is that there are a pile of things that you have to have ready and no one to tell you when you’re falling behind. So, during the summer (while you’re finishing up all those applications), make a timeline for when you’re going to have things ready. Figure out when you’re going to contact profs, order transcripts, mail necessary information to certain schools, and submit your applications.
Make sure that you’re doing everything a little earlier than the deadline because things can go wrong and everything takes time. For a lot of schools, when you apply you might have to wait a few days after giving your contact information before you can submit your required documents on their website. References take a huge amount of time- I recommend contacting profs at least a few months ahead of the deadline so that they have plenty of warning and if you have to find a new reference, you have plenty of time to find one. Contacting profs early is also great because they might just help you with your applications. If they have months before the deadline they’re much more likely to read over your application and give you some pointers.
Hopefully this post was at least a little helpful for any of you who are considering applying to graduate school. For reference, most of my applications were due in January/February, so take into account that if the programs you’re looking at are due sooner then you might need to move your schedule up a bit. From my experience, applications can feel like a sixth course on top of everything else you have to do in your last year, so learn from my mistakes! Make your life easier, rock those applications, and have a great final year!
All in all, I hope you all had a fantASCI reading week, and I wish you all luck in the remaining half of this (my last…) semester!