After three (or four) years of undergraduate studies, the decision to come back for more schooling isn’t always an easy one. But if you find a program you like and decide to apply, the process can feel really intimidating. Although it is a process, if graduate school is really what you want to do next, it is definitely worth it. There aren’t necessarily things you should worry about when applying to graduate school, but there are a few steps in this process that require a bit more time than others.
Once I decided that LSE was where I wanted to focus my time and energy in terms of my applications, things got easier from there. I was able to take time to research the Social Policy Department as well as my specific program, and I began to reach out to faculty and staff with any questions I had about the program. Don’t feel like you can’t contact your department with questions, I found that they were happy to help, and it cleared up a lot for me in terms of what my program entailed and what I could expect from the course. But I’d recommend having a look through all of the school and department webpages first, all of the essential information is posted there.
The personal statement is a key piece of the application process, and the most valuable thing I gave to my personal statement was time to be worked on. The first draft of my personal statement looked nothing like what I submitted to LSE – which is totally normal! After sending my personal statement to different mentors and professors I had at the time, I allowed my personal statement to grow and change into the best possible version. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I were short on time.
Gathering documents and transcripts is tedious and not exactly what you want to spend your time doing, but again, give yourself enough time to submit them! Even if you’re submitting electronically and not physical copies in the mail, there is nothing worse than realizing last minute your document won’t open or can’t be uploaded – don’t give yourself extra reasons to stress!
And not to get ahead of ourselves, but applying to graduate school is more than just applying to an academic program; it is important to consider the other factors that will come along with your education. I loved LSE, I was keen to return to London, and I was happy with the student accommodation options offered here. Housing, student life, and university location are also important aspects of graduate school to consider when deciding where to apply.
Once the applications are submitted, pat yourself on the back. It isn’t an easy process, but it certainly rewarding. I’d say the most important ingredient to a stress-free graduate school application process is plenty of time – time to research, time to write, and time to submit.