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Grad School Timeline

Below is a sample schedule for a student hoping to enter graduate school in the fall. Of course, you’ll need to modify this schedule to fit the specific school’s deadlines.


(more than one year before graduate school begins)

Research potential schools. Take practice tests for MCAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MAT, etc. Study guides are available at Career Services. These guides will help you determine how much preparation you’ll need and if a test prep course if necessary.


Register for the test at Career Services’-Testing by calling 435-797-1004


Request information from schools that interest you. Meet with several of your professors who can recommend good programs and help you make some connections


Take required entrance exams. This leaves you time to take the test again if necessary. Begin writing your personal statement/letter of intent


Finalize your list of prospective schools. Pick a professor or two from each school whose research interests mirror your own. Familiarize yourself with their work. Contact your recommenders and ask if they will write letters of recommendation for you. Keep polishing your personal statement


Request official transcripts. Send your recommenders’ supplemental materials (i.e., resume, personal statement, etc.) that they can use as a reference. Make contact with students and professors at your prospective schools. Arrange a campus visit, if you can, or follow-up to increase your chances of receiving an invitation for a visit from those programs that invite candidates (medical/dental schools).


Have someone in the field, a professor or advisor, and your Career Services Career Coach review and edit your personal statement. Leave time for rewriting and editing


Complete and submit all applications, keeping a copy of every section for your records. Verify that your recommendations have been sent


Focus on financial aid—fill out the FAFSA online and look into private loans, grants, and fellowships


Celebrate your acceptances. Appeal the aid package (or apply for alternative loans) if the amount the school offers you doesn’t meet your financial needs

Perhaps the most important issue regarding preparation for graduate school is to understand that being passive will not produce results—action is required. The following list identifies areas of consideration in making this important decision. Start checking off as many of these items as you can, and you’ll find yourself on the way to successfully preparing for graduate school.

Step 1: Should I go to graduate school?

I want to:

  • advance my career.
  • take my career in a different direction.
  • earn a higher income.
  • become an expert in my field.
  • pursue my love of learning.
  • learn in a challenging and stimulating environment.

Step 2: Is this the right time for me to attend graduate school?

I have considered the:

  • cost and the need for financial aid or support from my family or employer.
  • potential loss of income if I attend school full-time or part-time while working.
  • need for sustained hard work and mental exertion.
  • possibility of needing to relocate for school if it means a better program.
  • effects of school on my family and relationships.

Step 3: Choosing the right school.

I have:

  • investigated the research interests I may want to pursue.
  • spoken to professionals in the field who know about the different programs I could choose.
  • researched the reputation of the department and professors I would be studying under.
  • considered the cost of attending this school.
  • discussed financial aid options with a graduate school program advisor.

Step 4: Visiting campuses.

While on campus I:

  • visited the department and the campus to get a feel for the school.
  • spoke with students in the program to get their impressions.
  • met with key professors to evaluate them and let them evaluate me.
  • explored the surrounding area in which I will be living.
  • visited Career Services to identify potential employers/career options.

Step 5: Graduate school applications.

I have:

  • completed the necessary tests (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) and submitted my scores.
  • arranged for and obtained the necessary letters of recommendation.
  • written the required essays (personal statements, etc.) and have them edited several times.
  • completed the necessary application forms.
  • ordered and sent undergraduate transcripts.

Step 6: Paying for graduate school.

I have:

  • researched institutional funds such as scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time employment.
  • investigated teaching and/or research assistantships.
  • applied for federal loans such as the Federal Stafford Loan.
  • completed my FAFSA form.
  • investigated private loans through financial institutions or other agencies.