How to Apply to Grad School

Throughout my last few posts, I have discussed why I went to grad school and how to determine if you should apply to grad school. Next up in this series, I’ll discuss what you need when applying to grad school!

Some things you need to apply to grad school:

  1. Money! (Let’s be real, application fees and entrance examinations are expensive)
  2. List of schools you are applying to
  3. Personal statement
  4. Research statement
  5. List of potential recommenders

Fortunately, I was able to receive fee waivers for every grad school I applied to and even a partial waiver for the GRE! I was adamant that I would spend the lowest amount of money I possibly could throughout this process and achieved my goal. I will admit that the GRE score reports were a bit expensive after adding everything up. I would suggest asking the respective schools you apply to if you could send unofficial score reports and only pay for the official ones once you have been accepted and plan to enroll.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I only chose to apply to schools I would go to if they were the only ones I got into. From this, I was able to choose a mix of top 10 universities in computer science and universities not in the top 10 or top 20 that had professors I was interested in conducting research with. Research fit is extremely important and it’s essential to not let the prestige of schools you may be interested in cloud your judgement. Being stuck in a research area you’re not passionate about may prevent you from progressing throughout your graduate studies and leave you with an unsatisfactory experience.

In my opinion, your personal statement and research statements are the most important parts of your application. These statements should demonstrate your interest in research and passion for the respective field you want to conduct research in. It is also important to convey why you are the best fit for each program you apply to and you can do this by tailoring your statement to the respective university. Another essential part is your letters of recommendation. While you have less say in what your recommenders write in their letters, you do have a say in who you pick to write them. Always make sure that any person who writes a letter for you will write a positive one!

I’m still debating if I want to make another series detailing how to craft statements for graduate school and fellowship applications but here is a great Twitter thread about common pitfalls to avoid when writing your research statements. Let me know in the comments if you would like a more detailed guide or links to more resources and I’ll get started on a post! Also, Dartmouth’s Computer Science department has a great webpage detailing the process of applying to, selecting, and enrolling in MS or PhD programs in computer science. Definitely take a look if you are interested in going that route!

Feel free to share this post and follow me on all social media platforms @CollegeSista! Have questions about applying to grad school, life as a graduate student, or Cornell in particular? Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or through email!

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