Derrick White: Finalizing your application

By Derrick White. Posted December 12, 2013.

For some, the application process can be more stressful than interviews with potential mentors in your department of interest.  However, if you manage your time appropriately, the application process can go smoothly and be done in a timely fashion. 

In your efforts to find the right university, it is important to make sure you have the following in order:

  • List of potential Principal Investigators (PIs) at your prospective institution of interest
    • This is very important because the PI(s) whose lab you may want to join can look at your application before the panel from the department make their decision to admit you to the program
    • Furthermore, you will want to contact the potential PI(s) before submitting the application in an effort to alert them of your application submission
  • Know the application submission deadlines
    • For each institution you are interested in, make sure you have a saved document you can check to remind you about the deadlines.
    • Consider these deadlines early so you can take required tests and get test scores sent on time.
    • Always remember that your late submission of any part of your application may lead to the department not looking at your application- SO DON’T BE LATE.
  • Review the application two weeks before submission
    • More than likely you will have 3-5 institutions that you may want to attend.  With this in mind, you should give yourself time to review each application thoroughly to ensure all mistake have been removed before submission
    • Another helpful tip is to allow another set of eyes to go over your application.  A faculty member in your current department is best, but there may be other resources across campus you can utilize as well, such as your institution’s writing center or your program director. This is a good tactic to take advantage of because they may catch some mistake that you missed.
  • Make sure your funds are in place
    • For each application submission there is usually an application processing fee. This may vary from university to university, but the cost is usually $50-75 dollars.
    • HELPFUL TIP:  IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FUNDS FOR EACH SCHOOL, TRY CALLING THE DEPARTMENT AND GET AN APPLICATION FEE WAIVER. Many institutions have fee waivers for students who are Pell Grant eligible or a member of a program for diverse or underrepresented populations.