10 tips to get you into graduate school

Graduate school application deadlines are approaching. You are feeling a little stressed out, and your hair may or may not be falling out. It may seem overwhelming to think about tackling applications and studying for and taking entrance exams while still trying to juggle the rest of the semester’s assignments. But this process does not have to be stressful. Here are 10 tips to make applying for graduate school a little less scary:

Emily Branan


1. Pre-plan

The first thing students should do is plan out their time. Figure out a flexible plan and start early. Baker said if students are considering taking a year off before graduate school, they should figure out what they need to do in that year that would help them be admitted and plan their time accordingly.

2. Understand exactly what each application entails

Does it ask for a writing sample or a personal statement? How many letters of recommendation does the program want? Make a list of everything each school asks for so you can start gathering materials and are not surprised at the last minute by another requirement or a quickly approaching deadline.

3. Don’t compare your process to  another student’s 

Each grad school application process is a little bit different, so be aware of what your program needs.

4. Start early

Spend junior year researching the different programs and figuring out what it is you want to do. “If you have any doubts of what you’re studying, I would suggest taking some time off,” Baker said.

5.  Think outside the box

Schools want to see that you were involved. Did you research or intern somewhere? Any experience you have is valuable, whether it is trying something new, helping you figure out what you want to do or learning that you don’t like something.

6. Take advantage of the resources at Loyola

Talk with your professors about what they researched and what their graduate school experience was like for them. Take your papers to the Writing Across the Curriculum Center for help. Baker said she helps a lot of seniors with the application process and keeping them on track with their deadlines.

7. Ask questions and research

See if there are any faculty members doing research that interests you at the schools to which you are applying. These faculty members and their research will probably impact your curriculum, so make sure you find something that intrigues you.

8. Work backward from your deadline

Identify the program’s deadline and then starting with what will take you the longest to perfect.

9. Don’t be afraid to be afraid

It can be overwhelming, but once you understand exactly what you need to do and how you will tackle the application, you should feel a lot better. It’s a big decision; it’s natural to be a little worried about the future.

10. Breathe, relax and stay calm

Everything will work out as it should. Stress can self-sabatoge you out of a score you need for your dream school or just make you generally miserable as you go through the application process.


*advice from Tamara Baker, Director of Loyola’s Career Development Center