Preparing for Graduate School Over Summer Break

If this is the summer before your senior year of school and you know for sure that graduate school is your next step, you’ve got to start preparing now.

Exam Paper

The process of applying for graduate school is a grueling one and takes a lot of time and preparation to get through successfully.

Whether you’re hoping to get into medical school or are scoping out law schools, the summer is a great time to start prepping yourself for that next step after graduation.

Here’s my guide to what you can start working on now to help you get into the school of your dreams!

Start studying!

To get into graduate school, you’ll first have to take one of those oh-so-frustrating standardized tests. One of the best ways to start preparing for a graduate school test is to take a test prep course. You can look into the offerings from companies like Kaplan or check out what your undergraduate school offers. If you can afford it, you can even get a private tutor, who can focus on your specific weaknesses and help you improve. If taking a class doesn’t fit with your summer schedule, consider taking an online prep course.

If you can’t afford to take a test prep course, there are still plenty of resources out there for you. Consider buying a test prep book or buying a smartphone app. While taking a prep course will help you stay on task, you are just as able to pick up a book and study the strategies yourself … and you won’t break the bank to do it.

Tour schools

It’s hard to apply to schools if you aren’t sure if you would like it there! Take the summer as a time to tour your top schools. While you’re there, you’ll have the opportunity to meet professors and talk to actual students. You’ll also be able to swing by the admissions office and ask specific questions about your application so that you can make sure you’re submitting exactly what they are looking for.

Another big question you need to ask is about graduate student housing, since it differs from school to school. If graduate student housing is not an option, find out by talking to students you meet during your tour about where to live. They’ll be able to give you some insight that you won’t find in an admissions guide.

Network with professionals

Even if you aren’t able to score an internship over the summer, it doesn’t mean you have to put your career on hold. Talk to everyone you know and see if they know someone who works in the field you’re trying to get into. You may be surprised by who your Mom and Dad know! Once you find a contact, reach out and see if you can shadow them for the day or maybe even just go to lunch. Make sure to ask any and all of the questions you have about graduate school and the career you are heading into.

Start on that personal statement

For many graduate school applications, a mandatory component is “a letter of intent” or “personal statement.” The length will vary from school to school, but you’ll definitely want to start working on it as early as possible. Why not take a crack at it this summer? Not only will you be able to take the time to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, but you’ll cut down a lot of the stress that comes when you start applying in the fall.

Here are some additional resources on applying to graduate school:

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