Applying To Grad School: All You Need To Know

First, When to apply for grad school? A graduate program is a college master’s 1-6-year program for someone with a bachelor’s degree. Also, is graduate school the best option to achieve your career goals? Indeed, this is a question of concern for many young people preparing to graduate from college these days. Having to consider tuition fees or study time, etc., makes graduate school a difficult decision. Besides, if your answer is “yes”, other troubling questions How many grad schools should I apply to and “How to apply to grad school?” arise.

Therefore, the following article from Jobandedu‘s College Life corner aims to help you answer those concerns, thereby making the best choices for this critical stage.

Why Should You Participate in Grad Schools?

To Move Up The Career Ladder

Unquestionably, a graduate degree is necessary for your career advancement and enhances your earning potential in the chosen profession. It facilitates upward career mobility and higher pay by making you stand out among other staff. Hence, possessing a graduate degree increases the possibility of receiving a promotional consideration from your boss. 

Some may not know that graduate schools are a great place to promote your personal brand and expand your professional relationships. We recommend The Unwritten Rules of Professional Etiquette: Building a Positive Reputation in Graduate School. Though creating meaningful and beneficial relationships in the academic environment is challenging for some, there are steps and tips in this book you can follow to smoothly navigate through grad school.

Open Up New Opportunities

Admittedly, many people soon realize that their initial career choices provide little opportunity for advancement or have limited job satisfaction. In this case, a master’s degree may be the key to relocating to a better professional path. 

If you are puzzle about the study program or not sure if graduate school is suitable for you, we recommend reading A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum (Skills for Scholars)

Passion Satisfaction

Earning a graduate degree in the field you are passionate about may be your ultimate joy. It might also lead to unexpected professional rewards. After all, passion is energy. Indeed, studying a subject you like, researching aspects you’re passionate about will provide endless inspiration. When you study and work with full enjoyment, you will produce impressive and very satisfying results.

Passion Satisfaction
Passion is energy – Source: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner from

How Many Grad Schools Should I Apply To?

Answering this question, a recommendation on Reddit is 5 to 10 carefully selected institutions with professors that share your interest in research. However, our advice is to submit applications of no more than 8 schools per round. Concerning the question “How many grad schools should I apply to?”, it would be best if you apply for 3-5 carefully chosen places. 

Undoubtedly, the more schools you apply to, the less attention you pay to every single application. Keep the list reasonably short so that you can concentrate on the colleges that draw your attention and enthusiasm.

How Many Grad Schools Should I Apply To?
Choose the schools that really attract your interest – Source:

How To Apply To Grad Schools? What To Prepare For The Application?

Since this process requires careful decisions and patience, what you need to do is methodically planning ahead to deal with the concern “How to apply to grad school?” Do not race against time; apply when you are ready and fully prepared.

Also, each institution has its own application form and supplemental submission documents. Fortunately, the essential papers are relatively consistent from school to school and include the following:

Application Form

First and foremost, you will need to provide basic information, such as your name, address, contact information, and education level, via an application form. Remember to prepare verification documents if necessary. 

Bear in mind not to misremember or forget all application deadlines. Do not let the opportunity slip through your fingers from the first step due to a small mistake leading to regrettable consequences.


Next, transcripts are possibly the most important extra papers required. Transcripts not only give an official record of your educational level and GPA, but they also show the type (and difficulty levels) of courses you have taken.

Read more: What Is An Unofficial Transcript? A Brief Guide to Unofficial Transcript Submission

Standardized Test Scores

Moreover, most graduate schools require candidates to submit results from at least one of the graduate school standardized admissions tests. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is the most prevalent among these certifications. 

For more details, the GRE General Test, administered by the Educational Testing Service, aims to assess students’ verbal thinking, mathematical reasoning, and analytical writing skills. Some grad schools may also require a GRE Subject Test that covers specific topics in a particular field of study. Other necessary standardized tests are the GMAT (business), LSAT (legal), and MCAT (medical).

By and large, students need to search for information or contact potential graduate institutions as soon as possible to know what standardized tests are necessary for admissions. Most candidates invest considerable time in preparing for these exams. They often participate in preparatory classes or instructors to get the best results in these examinations.

Letters Of Recommendation

Subsequently, applicants need to pick their writers carefully, as letters of recommendation act as a personal reference. The best letters seem to be from professors, academic advisors, or faculty members who have been deeply engaged in a student’s undergraduate education.

Equally important, make all essential letter requests at least two months before the submission date, and follow up with your references to ensure its on-time delivery.

Related Content: Without Date Conferred Or Expected, Your Resume Ain’t Scored 100%

Applying To Grad School: All You Need To Know - how many grad schools should I apply to
Make all essential letter requests at least two months before the submission date – Source:

Statement Of Purpose

These days, almost all graduate programs require at least a written statement of purpose or essays at the admission process. To be more specific, the statement of purpose is a brief, succinct statement in which the candidate describes their academic background, educational level, professional aspirations, and reasons why this graduate program will help them achieve those goals. 

This paper will introduce yourself, discussing why you choose their schools and why you want to attend this program. You do not need to search for the structure and content of each school’s written statement anywhere, as it is included in the application packet

Furthermore, admissions committees are looking for students with well-defined career goals that align with the area of expertise, vision, and mission of the institution to which they are applying. Therefore, the writer should describe them briefly.

Personal Statement

Besides a statement of purpose, a personal statement is another most frequently written requirement. However, the personal statement’s assessment criteria are usually more than those of the statement of purpose. In addition, the personal statement is the key to making the candidate outstanding among other applicants. 

Importantly, it provides information on the candidate’s background and life experiences. Presenting your ambitions and motivations is another vital part of this paper. Thus, the personal statement is an applicant’s opportunity to persuade the admissions committee of his or her enthusiasm for the field and why he or she is a suitable candidate for the program.

If your GPA or your profile is not as impressive as your competitors’, your essay may give you another chance into your dream school. Should you be in that situation or don’t know where to start, we recommend the book Graduate Admissions Essays, Fourth Edition: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice (Graduate Admissions Essays: Write Your Way Into the). Of course, you have to write your own essay, but the process will be less confusing and increase your chance of success. Most readers review that they enjoy the way the book guides and specific details that make them stand out.

See more: What does Y/N mean?

Extra Tips For The Application Process

Start Early

As mentioned previously, it is critical that students devote ample time to the application process. Because the procedure might last for months, be sure you prepare in advance to deal with unexpected troubles such as required document verification.

Prepare For The Entire Application Process

Remember that application is a whole process, not simply the combinations of separate stages. Therefore, pay great attention to even short answer questions and respond them wisely.

Follow Up

Once you have sent your submission materials, keep following up to ensure that all essential papers arrive on time. Equally important, get ready to respond to any requests for further documents or interviews as soon as possible.

Seek Help From A Private Consultant

Think about hiring a private consultant when you do not master grad school applications or do not have much time for the best preparation, for example. These days, graduate school consulting is a fast-growing field. Obviously, private advisors can assist with all aspects of grad school preparation, from selecting the appropriate program to staying on track with the application process.

Seek Help From A Private Consultant - how many grad schools should I apply to
Consider seeking help from a consultant – Source:


I guess by the time you read this far, you already have your own answer to the questions “How many grad schools should I apply to?” and “How to apply to grad school?”. Let’s join a grad program if you can afford the time and money, as this is the perfect stepping stone for your career advancement!

Note: This article contains affiliate products to fund our blog.

Emma Anderson

Emma Anderson is a career consultant and freelance writer for JobandEdu by night. Layla assists students, and new hires in determining a suitable career path and walk them through the application process. She decides to pursue writing since she thinks everyone should have access to information about potential careers, such as the application process and the company's culture. She's into writing, driving her with stuff that interests her in all her good reads.