Planning Timeline

Applying for graduate school requires a lot of preparation. We recommend beginning the process a FULL YEAR before you actually apply for school.

One year before you apply (August – December)

Contact Posse

  • Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.
  • Use the Posse Alumni Network to set up informational interviews with alumni who have degrees in the field that you’re pursuing.

Research schools and programs

  • Explore school Web sites and gather admissions information.
  • Schedule campus visits.
  • Attend admissions events.
  • Talk to alumni.

Create a timeline

  • Record application deadlines, test date deadlines and financial aid deadlines.
  • Research test prep companies for class size, schedule, and price. Most companies allow you to sit in on the first class for free.

Get involved with community/volunteer work

  • Most graduate programs want to see how you will contribute outside of the classroom. If you’re not already involved with volunteerism, now is the time to start!

Pay off your debt

  • Time to start saving and paying off your debt if you have any. If you are pursuing a full-time program, you will be forfeiting two-three years of salary. Keep your expenses low, so that you are not stressed out about finances while you’re in school.

Winter before you apply (January – March)

Study for Grad School Exams

  • Register and begin your test prep class OR begin studying independently. Either way, you should expect to study for a minimum of three months before you take the exam.

Schedule your test date

  • Take your exams sooner rather than later. Sitting for an earlier exam allows you to retake the exam if you are not satisfied with your score.
    • GRE + GMAT: You can take these tests once a month at a testing center.
    • LSAT: The LSAT is only offered four times per year, so be sure to schedule your exam early!
    • MCAT: The MCAT is offered multiple times per year, but register early in order to increase the chances of getting your preferred test date and location.

Spring before you apply (April – June)


  • Download copies of last year’s essay question(s). Most schools keep the same essay questions from year to year.
  • Begin developing the outline for your essay(s). Essays and/or statements of purpose take time and SEVERAL revisions. Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take you to put together a strong essay. You can learn more here.
  • Recruit one or two individuals to read your essays. You should recruit one to two people to read your essays and provide you with candid feedback. Find people who are strong writers (lawyers, English majors, communications professionals, etc.). Identify these people early and let them know when they can expect the first draft of your essays and when you’d like a reply.

Reach out to your recommenders

  • Give them a timeline of when you’ll expect to send them the recommendation form and when the applications will be due. You can learn more here.

Attend Posse’s graduate school panels

  • Last year, these events were offered in Boston, Chicago and New York. Continue building relationships with admissions officers, alumni that you’ve met, and other important contacts.

Summer & Fall before you apply

  • Continue writing your essays. At this point, you should have final drafts ready for submission.
  • Meet with your recommenders. Learn more about recommendations here.
  • Attend additional admissions events and/or participate in special campus events.
  • Revise your resume. Most programs require a one-page resume.
  • Fill out your financial aid forms. The graduate financial aid process is very competitive, so it is important for you get your forms in early.
  • Request your undergraduate institution to send your transcript and submit all your application materials
  • Begin preparing for graduate interviews.
  • Some schools offer rounds or rolling admissions. Posse highly encourages you to apply either for round one, or early in the process (before January).
  • Time to Apply!