Steps to Take Before Fall Admissions Deadlines
Prospective Pakistani applicants for the Fall 2018 admissions have 3-4 months till the application deadlines, most of which are in December and January. Unless you are all set to apply and have all the required materials ready, which is highly unlikely, there is a lot that you need to do in these coming few months before you apply. In fact utilizing this time effectively is crucial and will greatly improve your chances of being admitted to the programs you apply to. A good application has multiple aspects many of which require time in order to be properly developed and polished. This post explores these and suggests the keys steps that you should take in order to be prepared for the applications.
1. Carry out a school search: Before you can start the process of applying to schools you need to search for the prospective schools and programs you will be applying to. Once you have decided the degree you want to pursue, you will need to find the universities offering that program. You may use other criteria along with this as well such as geographical location of the school, the faculty and past placements of graduate students. Moreover, also check the admission requirements thoroughly.
SEE ALSO: Scholarships for Graduate School
Create a spreadsheet in Excel where you record information regarding the schools where you plan to apply. Find information regarding the application requirements, deadlines and available funding for each program in the spreadsheet. This will save you a lot of time that might be spent on running multiple searches later. USNEWS.com is a very good starting point for school selection.
2. Prepare for and schedule GRE/GMAT & TOEFL/IELTS: Almost all graduate schools require GRE/GMAT score when admitting students to their programs. Once you know the schools you will apply to, you can get an idea of the average score for the incoming admitted students. Then you can start planning when and how you will prepare for the GRE/GMAT exam. On average expect this to take 2-3 months unless you feel you will not need that much time to prepare.
SEE ALSO: GRE Study Plans
Schedule the exam with some time to spare before the application deadlines, in case you decide to re-take the exam to increase your score. Preparing for TOEFL/IELTS is not as troublesome as the test is straightforward as compared to the GRE/GMAT exam but you will still need to decide when to take the exam. Prepare for the GRE/GMAT first and then for the TOEFL/IELTS since preparing for the former automatically prepares you for the latter.
SEE ALSO: GRE or GMAT? Which one to take.
3. Get your transcript and degree: Make sure to get your transcript and degree (if you have graduated) issued from your educational institute. You will need to upload a scanned copy of these as part of your application so make sure you have these well in advance from the application deadlines. Some universities take 2-3 weeks for the documentation, it would be smart to have this done and out of the way so that you can focus on the more important parts of your application such as recommendations and essays when the deadlines near. If you are in your final year and do not have your degree/transcripts, send partial transcripts while applying along with a letter from your current university clearly stating the expected date of getting the degree.
4. Plan for getting recommendations and writing essays: Good recommendations and well written essays can immensely bolster your profile as a prospective student. The most frustrating part of applications can be when the deadline is next day and your recommender is not answering your emails. To prevent this from happening contact the people who will write a recommendation for you early on and let them know of all the places you will apply to and their deadlines. You should also use this time to start thinking about your essays.
SEE ALSO: Writing Personal Statements
Some universities give a prompt for you to write an essay on while others will ask for the traditional personal statement. Be prepared for having to write multiple essays and so planning in advance will make the process of writing the essays a lot easier.
5. Experience: If you are a working professional you will already have this covered. However, if you have recently graduated or just graduated this summer then you should ideally get some experience before you apply for a graduate school. Even if this means that you will only be able to have an internship, you should still use the opportunity. Work experience is another one of the factors which makes your application strong.
6. Calculate a cost estimate: Applying to graduate schools starting from registering for GRE/GMAT to actually submitting the application is a costly affair. Budget for this in advance. You will have to pay for GRE/GMAT, TOEFL, sending these scores to the universities (apart from the initial few free ones you get after the test) and the application fee for submitting the applications. On average you may incur $127 to apply to one school as sending the GRE score costs $27, sending the TOEFL score costs $20 and submitting an application may cost around $80. However, not all universities charge an application. Nevertheless, I stress again that you should plan this in advance. On average it costs between 100,000 to 250,000 PKR to apply to between 4-6 graduate programs abroad. This includes test prep for exams, exam fees as well as all application and documentation fees.