TIMELINE for GRAD SCHOOL PLANNING By the Academic Resource Center and Internships & Career Development Office (revised 1/2007) The following grad school timeline gives you an overview of the general chronology to follow when considering grad school. The timeline is set up for those of you who plan on attending grad school immediately following completion of your undergrad degree. However, for those who plan to delay grad school until later the chronology is the same, only the time frame you follow will vary. Many of you may plan to attend grad school immediately following completion of your undergrad degree. Others may prefer to work for a year or more prior to enrolling in a program. Some schools/programs prefer you to work at least a year before applying. When researching grad schools, inquire if schools have a preference. Each plan has its own merits and it is up to you to decide what suits you best. However, it is best to take any required grad school exams prior to or just after graduation.
Sophomore Year → GPA: Work on maintaining a high GPA. → Identify yourself to your advisor as a student considering grad school education. → Medical School? If you are considering medical or dental school...Begin by contacting the head of the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) in the Biology Department. → Research: Begin to research programs, schools, and start to identify your interests. Why would you like to go to graduate school? Do you want to go directly after graduation, or wait for a year or two? → Tests: Think about admissions tests: Each program requires an admission test. Research which test you need to take for your chosen program. Investigate how to obtain registration materials and registration dates for the test. Some of the tests are taken on the computer (GRE, GMAT, and MCAT) while others are still a paper and pencil test (LSAT). → Investigate Requirements: Each program varies and it is critical that you investigate which test is required for each program you are considering. Many schools prefer you take the GRE. However, most business schools recommend the GMAT, law schools recommend the LSAT, and medical schools recommend the MCAT. → Begin to prepare for the grad school admission test required for admission to the advanced program or degree you have chosen. The Academic Resource Center and Office of Internships & Career Development have info on most of the tests. They also offers a variety of preview workshops on most of the tests (i.e. GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT). → Build your vocabulary- start with a vocabulary book such as Wordsmart or Wordsmart II (The Princeton Review).
Junior Year → Research areas of interest, and various institutions and programs. Reference guides, such as Peterson’s Guide to Graduate Study and the Directory of Graduate Programs, are good places to begin and are located in the Library as well as the Internship & Career Development Office. Also, by accessing the Internet you can go directly to the home page of many universities to begin your research. → Request viewbooks, catalogs and applications either by mail or on the Internet. → Focus: Use the info you obtain to weed out programs that do not meet your criteria. Thoroughly investigate the remaining schools on your list. If possible, plan a visit to the campus to get a feel for the place and talk to the students and professors in the division you will be applying to. Most graduate programs offer information sessions. Make sure you understand the admissions requirements (GPA, grad exam scores) and consider schools where you are reasonably sure to be accepted, as well as one “reach” school. → Investigate the application process of each school. In most cases you can download the application from the school’s website. In addition, most schools now let you apply online. Be mindful of the fact that each school has different application deadlines. In particular, be aware of the deadlines for scholarships/financial aid. → Purchase preparation materials for the test. Both Kaplan and Princeton Review offer excellent test preparation materials. They include books as well as practice software. → Register for the appropriate grad admission test (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc). It is highly recommended that you take these entrance exams during the summer between your junior and senior year. This allows you plenty of time to retake the exam if you receive a less than desirable score. Some programs also require a GRE Subject test in addition to the GRE general test. It would be preferable to take these on different testing days for optimum results.
→ Prepare to take the admission tests. Obtain practice tests from the testing service and attend workshops given by the Academic Resource Center (ARC) or the Internships and Career Development Office (I/CD).
Senior Year (September/October) → Start Applying: Review the application process, including deadlines, obtain all applications and prepare a checklist for each school. The checklist should include all the info that is needed (i.e. completed application, financial aid data, personal statement, etc.) and a column for date sent and date confirmed. → Letters of Recommendation: Approach the professors, administrators, employers, or advisors who you feel know you best and whom you can count on to write a glowing letter of recommendation. Most schools require three letters and prefer faculty recommendations. → Arrange an appointment with your prospective recommenders and bring an unofficial copy of your transcript and a copy of your transcript and a copy of your resume and/or personal statement. If the university supplies a recommendation form, bring that as well, with a pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope. Be sure to give them ample time (3+weeks) to complete this task. After a few weeks check with your recommenders to make sure the letters have been written and sent. → Resumes: Schedule an appointment with the Internship & Career Development office to create or revise your resume. → Personal Statements: Start working on the first draft of your personal statement. Attend the personal statement workshops conducted by the Academic Resource Center. → Take Entrance Exams: Take or re-take applicable entrance exam(s)
November/December → Follow-up on any letters of recommendation that have not been sent. → Transcripts: Go to the Registrar’s Office and review a copy of your official transcript. If you discover any errors, have them corrected before the transcripts are sent out. Request the appropriate number of official transcripts. Most grad schools require the transcripts come directly from the Registrar, so be sure to give the correct mailing address(es) on the request form. → Continue to refine your personal statement. Elicit advice from your major advisor for ideas that should be covered in your essay. Bring it to a writing specialist at the Academic Resource Center who will review and make appropriate corrections in style, grammar and construction. Make sure it is proofread by at least three people, preferably professional staff or faculty members. Try to make your final draft flawless. → Deadlines: Try to mail applications by Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter. Keep a copy of everything you send out. → If you haven’t had your test scores sent to all the schools you applied to, request the additional score report(s) be mailed by the testing service. → Financial Aid: Prepare appropriate financial aid documents per the instructions of the schools you have selected to receive your applications. Be sure to retain copies of this info. Also, research scholarships, there are many available!
January-April → Final Semester Grades: Maintain or increase your GPA. Depending upon the university, many grad schools award aid based on academic merit as well as financial need. → Check on the status of your applications. Most schools will notify you but do not depend on this. It is your responsibility to make sure your application is complete. → Tours: If possible, plan a visit to the schools on your list to tour the campus and meet faculty and students.
April-May → Make decisions: Decide which offer to accept, send in the acceptance/deposit, and let other programs know you are no longer interested. → Final Transcript: Request an official final transcript be sent to the school you have chosen. → Follow-up and Thanks: Let those who wrote your recommendations and members of the faculty/administration, who may have assisted you, know where you will be attending grad school and THANK THEM!