If you’ve been following along with this “How to” series on the blog, you know that I’ve released a few posts regarding how to apply to graduate school, from obtaining letters of recommendation to writing the crucial statement of purpose , and I’ll continue to write posts like this, but today I wanted to pause and talk about something that is just as important as having a strong application: how to reduce the anxiety that surrounds these types of applications.
For me, the biggest anxiety I had was with the GRE, because I knew that I could control whether or not my writing was good, and I could choose my letter writers, but how I do with standardized test taking is dependent on a number of factors, so I’ll write a GRE specific post soon.
Step 1: Scheduling Everything
When are all the deadlines for programs you want to apply to? If you’re at least 12 months away, you’re in a really good spot to start getting your life together. If you’re closer to the deadlines than that, you’ll want to find out how many weeks you have until you’re first deadline approaches. Then, you’ll want to map out how much time you’ll need to complete each part of the application process. Having this all written on paper should help you feel more in control of each step of the process, and if you have specific tasks scheduled for certain days, you should reduce your worries about when you’ll have time to get things done, as it’s already in the calendar!
Step 2: Ask Someone Who’s Done it
A huge chunk of your professors have Doctoral degrees, so they’ve been through the graduate school application process before. It’s worth your time to ask them what their best advice is for you. Don’t worry if you think their advice won’t be up-to-date, because their advice likely won’t be specific to technology (unless you’re in a field where you know that will be the case), but will rather probably address procrastination, writing, and other common issues. It might also be smart to ask someone who is on a graduate admissions committee (perhaps not the committee you’ll be evaluated by, if that feels weird to you) because they may be able to give you some insights into what committees look for in applicants.
Step 3: Know Your Worth
It’s important to remember that when a lot of graduate committees look at applications, they’re trying to find who would be a good fit for the program, they aren’t just accepting and denying people for fun. They want to find someone who is qualified, yes, but they also want to accept applicants that they can really teach, that can stand to grow. So if you aren’t the most perfect candidate that’s ever applied to this program, don’t freak out, that might actually be a strong suit. And remember, if you’re in a position where you’re already applying to graduate school, you’re probably a qualified student who has opportunities available to them, so try not to get hung up on the idea that you have to get into one specific program or the world ends.
Let me know if this helps! Like I said, I’ll tackle GRE related anxiety in an upcoming post!