Gray pencil lying on yellow background, checkboxes aligned with 3-1 months out

Grad Admission Checklist: 3–1 Months From Applying

Planning to apply to grad school? Part four of this series covers months 3–1 of the 12-month timeline leading up to submitting your grad applications.

Welcome to the final installment of the Graduate Admission Checklist series on what to do in the 12 months leading up to submitting your grad school application(s). This portion covers the last three months before you apply. As previously discussed, graduate school is not something to take lightly. It involves a major investment personally, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and financially. Here’s how to wrap up all the hard work and research you’ve done over the previous nine months into strong and streamlined graduate school applications.

3 months before applying

  • Make sure you have current graduate application requirements and deadlines. You'll most likely access applications on the admission website. Having reviewed the information on your research spreadsheet, you should be pretty familiar with the deadlines you’ll need to meet for your applications.
  • Create outlines for your essays and personal statements. Jotting down notes for each question is extremely valuable and helps ensure you answer each question fully—and that you answer the right questions for the right schools.
  • If you haven't already, be sure to contact your chosen references for your letters of recommendation. If they're going to do a good job for you, they’ll need time to work on their recommendations.
  • Create an application spreadsheet. Place the names of each of your options alphabetically down the left-hand column. Across the top, place the items you want to be sure you remember or compare throughout the application process. Here are a few examples:
    1. The deadline by which you will apply
    2. Ease of completing the application (i.e., user-friendly technology)
    3. Your experience communicating with admission staff between applying and when you receive a decision
    4. The admission office’s decision deadline 

Related: 13 Things Admission Teams See in Great Grad School Applications

2 months before applying

  • Set aside time each day to complete sections of your applications. That way, you'll get a little done each time and lessen your chances of feeling overwhelmed, rushing, and/or making mistakes.
  • It may be helpful to complete the same section, with the exception of essays, for each application you're submitting. That way, you're filling in the same information and will have a sense of accomplishment. For example, completing the demographic section for each of your applications lets you move on knowing this section is done for all of them.
  • Work on or complete one essay each time you work on your applications. This helps spread things out and not leave you out of time later on.
  • Make sure your recommenders are ready to go with their letters/forms and confirm you've provided them with all the information they need.
  • Request your undergraduate transcripts. Most universities are completely familiar with this part of the application process and have very efficient procedures in place. 

1 month before applying

  • Now it's time to fine-tune your applications. Thoroughly recheck your essays, then have someone else check them. Go over each of the sections to be sure you have accurately and correctly answered all questions. Check for mistakes, then have another person check for mistakes.
  • Be as certain as possible your applications are exactly the way you want them to be.
  • Prepare your application fees. If you’re sending a check, make sure you have the money to cover it. Bounced checks don't make a good first impression! 

Pro tip: There’s a fine line between conscientiously reviewing your applications and obsessing about perfection. We're all human. Admission committees aren't looking for perfection; they're looking for proof that you as the applicant took time to prepare your materials.

Related: 4 Things to Keep Track of When Applying to Grad School

If you follow this timeline, you should be ready to submit your grad school applications well in advance of your deadlines—after all, you’ve been working on them steadily for almost a year! And the bigger buffer you can give yourself, the better, because you want to have plenty of time to follow up on your materials (whether via an online portal or by phone or email), and you’ll have time to resubmit things in the event something goes awry—heaven forbid!

Thanks for reading this series! Learn more about the author at GradSchoolRoadMap.com, and do yourself a favor by looking for scholarships to help pay for grad school right here on CollegeXpress.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Donald C. Martin

Dr. Donald C. Martin is an expert in the fields of enrollment management, student affairs, and higher education administration. From 1980–2008, he managed divisions including admission, financial aid, student development, registration/advising, and career, disabled, and international services. He has been employed by some of the best colleges and universities in the United States, including Columbia University (Teachers College), University of Chicago (Booth School of Business), Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism), and Wheaton College (in Illinois). Along with a team of dedicated professionals, Dr. Martin grew both the applicant pool and the enrollment yield at each institution he served. In addition, students’ ratings of their experience at those institutions improved dramatically during his tenure.

Having visited over 60 countries on every continent, Dr. Martin has worked with thousands of prospective and current students of varying nationalities, backgrounds, beliefs, interests, and goals. He continues his work with students and educational organizations worldwide, speaking on college and university campuses and also at graduate school fairs, forums, and education conferences. Dr. Martin's focus is on the value of education and negotiating the graduate school experience from start to finish, dispelling the myths that hold many back from earning a graduate degree and financing their graduate education. In addition, he provides one-on-one coaching services for graduate/business school applicants. Learn more at GradSchoolRoadMap.com

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin

Counselor

I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.

Asia Stockdale

Asia Stockdale

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me overcome a huge hurdle. Because of the small town I live in, I felt like I would never achieve more. I felt like I could never go beyond because of costs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to find scholarships. I had no idea of where to start. With CollegeXpress, I easily found scholarships—they came to me. It was a helper, and I was instantly matched with opportunities to go above and beyond educationally.

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

Emilie Delgado

Emilie Delgado

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2013

CollegeXpress has tremendously helped me in my search for financial aid opportunities as I enter my college career. It is easy to navigate and quickly narrowed down scholarships that I could apply for. Being awarded the scholarship will greatly help me in my finances regarding books and tuition. Thank you for this opportunity. Without CollegeXpress, it would have been more difficult to apply. I would recommend this site to everyone!

Keaun Brown

Keaun Brown

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2020

As I transition to furthering my education, I can say with certainty that it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous organizations such as CollegeXpress. Those who initially founded CX had no idea their platform would give a plethora of information to a first-generation homeless kid native to the ghettos of over half a dozen states. Everyone at CX and Carnegie Dartlet gave me a chance at a future when the statistics said I had none. And for that, I thank them.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

SUNY Oneonta

Oneonta, NY

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Malone University

Canton, OH