Grad School Application Checklist: 1 Month Out

Don Martin Dr.

This is the 12th and final installment of our series on what you should do in advance of submitting your graduate school applications. One month out, fine-tune your applications and start thinking about what happens after they are submitted.

For several months you have been preparing to submit your applications. Very soon that part of the process will be completed. Here are final tips regarding your applications, and some suggestions on what to do while you are waiting to hear back from the admissions committee.

[Try these things while waiting to hear back from b-schools.]

1. Check that your recommenders completed their letters: If they have not, provide a gentle reminder about approaching deadlines.

2. Thoroughly recheck your essays: After your own review, ask someone else to check the essays. By now the content is finalized. You should be reviewing the word count and looking for any misspelled words and incorrect grammar.

3. Review other sections for mistakes: Go over each of the sections to be sure you have accurately and correctly answered all questions. Then have another person check for mistakes. Be certain, to the best of your ability, your applications are exactly the way you want them to be.

4. Start preparing your application fees: If sending a check, make sure you have the money to cover it. Bounced checks do not make a good first impression!

[Find funding for your graduate education.]

There is a difference between conscientiously reviewing your applications and obsessing about perfection. We are all human. Admissions committees are not looking for perfection; they are looking for proof that an applicant took time to prepare the materials.

Once you have submitted your applications, you will have some time on your hands before you learn the admissions committees' decisions. During this time, you should still do more research. Here are some suggestions.

1. Access current press coverage: We covered this earlier on in our series. If you did this a few months back, now is the time to add to your information on the institutions and programs.

2. Contact current students and alumni: We covered this a few weeks back when discussing what to do seven months out--but if you haven't done so already, make sure to reach out to former and current students to gain insight.

3. Research the faculty and staff: As a student, you will spend a lot of time in the classroom, as well as some time in various staff offices on campus. Information on both the faculty and staff could be very valuable. Here are some suggestions on how to get that information.

For faculty:

-- Information in the institution's catalog

-- Course evaluations that most graduate schools conduct and place on their website

-- A Web search on the professor

For staff:

-- Information on the website, such as in the financial aid, career services, academic support, international students, disabled students, dean of students, and alumni sections

-- Information on the leadership of the school or institution, which will also be on the website

-- Feedback you received when you spoke with current and former students

[Learn how to get more money for grad school.]

4. Start preparing your admitted student spreadsheet: You are likely to be admitted to more than one program. Use this time to prepare a spreadsheet with information that will help you make your enrollment decision.

List every factor that will weigh into your final decision, such as cost vs. financial aid offered, location, staff, faculty, class size, student organizations, career placement, alumni network, and overall reputation. Fill in this information for each program that offers you admission.