As anyone in CLACS will tell you, applying to grad school is a long and detailed process that requires a lot of time and patience. It can also be expensive due to application fees, transcript requests, and GRE fees. However, if you start early, research the programs you’re interested in, mark up your calendar with application deadlines, and make a list of the required documents for each school, then it’s really not that bad. You could even do what I did and make a spreadsheet complete with department contacts, deadlines, GRE codes, app fees, and boxes to check off once it was confirmed that transcripts had been received and letters of recommendation had been submitted.
I am by no means an expert, but I think I can offer some tips from my experience of applying to grad schools just a few months ago. The two application items that I put the most effort into were my CV and statement of purpose. These are also the two components of your application package that you have complete control over.
Even if you think that your CV is in good shape, I would definitely still take it to your school’s career center, or even a professor or two, to have it looked over and tweaked a bit. I remember bringing in my CV over and over again, and each time there was something to be improved upon. The same thing goes for the statement of purpose. I really don’t think I’m qualified to give any advice on writing it, but I would strongly recommend writing it as early as you can, being as concise and specific as possible, getting a little creative with it, and having as many people as possible read over it. Your professors are a great resource and want to help you! Let them help you prepare your application materials. Of course, friends and family can be a great help, as well.
Last but not least, you really can’t start your applications too early. It will save you a lot of stress by doing so. And, don’t be afraid to email or call the department at the school that you’re applying to. I constantly emailed the staff at CLACS, sometimes just to clarify something that was said in an earlier email, and they were as friendly, informational, and gladly helpful as I could have ever hoped them to be. It also helped that NYU’s online application portal was super user friendly, which is something that cannot be said about some of the other schools I applied to. Overall, I would say that as long as you start early and keep all of your materials organized, you’ll be good to go. Suerte/Good Luck!
Elizabeth Con is an MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU