9 Months Before Applying

applying to graduate school

Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students

by Dr. Donald C. Martin

If you're thinking about applying to graduate school, 9 months before applying can be a critical time in the application process. This is when you should be narrowing your search by visiting the schools that have made your list and know exactly what graduate program you'd like to study. Whether you want to pursude Business, Education, Nursing, or a masters or doctorate degree, following this advice from Dr. Donald C. Martin will make sure that you stay on schedule.
1: Plan a Visit to Your Top Schools 

You may be able to learn a great deal about the campus culture by actually visiting the campus in person.  In many cases you can arrange a formal tour of the campus and facilities through the schools website or by contacting admissions staff.

In addition to making formal arrangements for a tour of the campus you may want, if it is financially possible, to make an unannounced visit as well.  Walk around by yourself for a few hours and observe and interact with the students, faculty and staff, try to get a sense of the typical day of the average student. If time and money are of great concern reserve your visit until you are certain you plan to apply to a particular school.

2: Figure out How you will Study for Standardized Testing

Figure out how you will study for your standardized test.  You can purchase a study guide, use online resources, or attend test preparation classes.  Your decision about how to study will depend on your personal learning style and your financial resources and availability.

3: Test Prep 

Chances are your graduate school application will require you to complete a standardized test such as the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT.  It is never too soon to start studying, this will give you more time to manage any unexpected demands on your time as you get closer to test day.  Research testing facilities and create a study schedule to keep yourself on pace to esure your put forth your best performance on the test.  Preparation may also help mitigate test day nervousness.


Dr. Donald C. Martin is an expert in the fields of enrollment management, student affairs and higher education administration. From 1980 to 2008 he managed divisions including admissions, financial aid, student development, registration/advising, and career, disabled and international services.

For the complete twelve-month checklist, seven personal questions to ask about grad school, and much more, go to Dr. Martin’s website and order his book: Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students. The website address is www.gradschoolroadmap.com.

Find Schools