Engineering Grad School Applications – Getting Organized


If you are applying to grad school, be sure to check out my earlier posts in this series!


In this post I’ll break down what I tracked as I put my grad school applications together and how I organized it. I’ll also share how I organized my time as I put my applications together.


Once I had the list of universities I wanted to apply to, I went through all of the websites and wrote down


  1. Application login information
  2. Application Deadline
  3. Requirements (resume, personal statement, supplemental questions, GRE scores, etc.)
  4. Number of recommendation letters needed and deadline for rec letters
  5. List of supplemental questions
  6. Type of transcript required and date it must be received
  7. Labs and professors you are interested in

I put all of this in a spreadsheet and colored in the boxes as I completed different tasks. I also broke down each of these, for example, with recommendation letters, I listed each of my recommenders and the date I asked them and followed up with them.


Once I had an idea of what I needed to do, I tried to plan out when to do it. I set deadlines for myself. These included:


  1. Requesting and following up on recommendation letters, 
  2. Taking the GRE
  3. Completing my personal statement and supplemental questions
  4. Reaching out to potential advisors
  5. Finalizing a list of scholarships and fellowships I would apply to
  6. Submitting my applications


Figuring out when to actually do all of this was another thing. I had already worked a lot on my personal statement because I was applying for the NSF GRFP and started that application over the summer. I tried to set aside time on the weekend but it varied week to week. What I would suggest is to block off time and make it an experience you can look  forward to rather than something you squeeze in at the last second. Go to your favorite coffee shop (when they open back up) or order in your favorite lunch and listen to your favorite music while you work! 


Getting organized now is crucial to successful applications. Knocking out this step before you start the semester allows you to finish your classes strong while staying on top of the application schedule you put together for yourself!

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