Tactics for Applying to Grad School
If you’re a rising senior thinking about grad school for meteorology, you’re in good company! While only one of many good options to take after graduating, the process of getting there can be long, difficult, and even frustrating. While I am far from an expert, since I just went through the process I wanted to share my experiences with a few general tips to follow.
1. Know your angle
While an undergraduate degree provides a good overview of the field, graduate work comes with grants, projects, and advisors that are more specialized. Knowing your interests, priorities, and objectives can help you market yourself and write better cover letters during the application process. Keeping an updated resume/CV is a great way to see what you have done and think about where you want to go.
2. Do the research
There’s a lot of programs with a lot of people out there, so having all of the info gives a much better picture when doing comparisons. One tactic I used was creating individual text documents for each program and dumping all of the info about the program faculty, requirements, important dates, etc.. My original documents had over ten schools, so there’s nothing wrong with looking at a lot of places! Definitely make sure to see what courses they require (especially within mathematics), and use your last semester in undergrad to take those courses if you know you’re serious about that program.
3. People and projects over program
While being accepted into a graduate program is absolutely an accomplishment, the true value of higher education comes from what you do with it! If you know your angle, then finding faculty and projects that align with your interests will provide you with more opportunities to get the most out of grad school. Some good tactics for finding the right people include finding recent publications by prospective advisors, along with talking with current graduate students who are currently working under that advisor.
4. Reach out!
This last one is where I struggle the most, hence the emphasis. All of your background research and preparation has to go somewhere right? That’s where reaching out to those advisors or department chairs really pays off, whether it be via e-mail, at a conference, etc.. While brevity is usually a good guideline, make sure to hit on:
- Why you’re interested in the program.
- What you’re interests/abilities are.
- Is there anything else you’d like to know about the program.
Reaching out gives you some great information for any questions you might have, along with building up an early rapport that can have a positive impact on admissions and funding decisions later.
Apply to graduate programs can absolutely overwhelming, so definitely don’t be afraid to ask for help from other classmates, graduate students/faculty in your program, or those in the program that you’re applying to. In my experience many were actually excited to give advice and help navigate the application/admissions process. There is of course a lot more to applying than just these four things, but these are additional things that can make the whole process of applying much easier. If you have any of your own advice, make sure to leave it in the comments below.
Thank you and best of luck!