SUNY Oneonta

Checklist for Planning to attend Graduate School


Here is a checklist of things to do if you like to begin graduate school full-time in the Fall. The approximate timetable is provided to guide you through the application process in a timely fashion. You can certainly apply to graduate school at any time before the college deadlines. This particular timeline is designed for students who are interested in receiving assistantship and/or fellowship consideration.


1. Decide what graduate program you would like to pursue. Remember that attending graduate school should lead you toward your ultimate career goal, not just to avoid getting a job and going to work. If you are having trouble narrowing down your graduate school options, then stop by the Career Development Center in Netzer 110 for assistance.


1. Make a list of all the graduate schools in the country that offer your program. The Career Development Center can give you a photocopied list of all the colleges that have the graduate programs that you may be considering. Just stop by the office and ask for help.


1. Write to the colleges/universities of interest and ask them to mail you information about the program, the college, financial aid programs and assistantships and to request a graduate catalog. The Career Development Center has postcards that you can use to begin this process. Just stop by and ask for some "yellow grad school postcards."

2. Determine if you will be required to take a graduate school admission test. There are several common exams including the GRE (general test), LSAT (for law school), MCAT (for medical school), GMAT (for business school). Purchase a study guide from any bookstore and begin to prepare to take the exam. If you have difficulty in a content area, go to the Center for Academic Development & Enrichment in 225 Alumni Hall and ask someone to review those concepts with you. There are also test preparation courses that teach test strategy and are available for a substantial fee. The Career Development Center has information, just stop in Netzer 110 and ask or visit our website at

3. Sign up to take any required graduate admission tests. Keep in mind it will take approximately six weeks for your scores to be sent to the graduate schools. You want colleges to have those test results before they begin reviewing graduate applications. Taking the test early will also give you time to retake the exam should that become necessary.


1. Attend the Graduate and Professional School Fair at the end of October from 1-3 pm in the Chase Gym. Admissions representatives from over 50 colleges and universities will be in attendance.

2. Review the materials from the colleges and narrow your choices down to three or four. Keep in mind that the average graduate school application fee is $50 and that money is usually non-refundable.

3. Graduate schools usually ask candidates to gather three letters of recommendation. Ask primary faculty members and/or other appropriate people if they would be willing to write you a letter of reference for graduate school admission. If they agree, you could open a credential folder in the Career Development Center to house all of your letters of recommendation. That way the person only has to write you one letter and then it can be duplicated and mailed to each graduate school. Please remember to give each recommender a copy of your current resume to use as a guide when writing your letter of recommendation.

3a. Take standardized test(s).

3b. Order transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended. If fall term grades are expected, then indicate on the transcript request form to mail “after current term grades.” Also be sure to ask the Registrar’s Office if the current term grades can be sent in time to meet the graduate school application deadline.


1. Complete the applications, and be certain to follow the instructions exactly.

2. Some graduate schools require applicants to write a personal statement as part of the application process (click here for help writing a personal statement). You can ask a faculty member or someone from the Writing Center in Alumni Hall to help you with this project. Remember to have a first draft with you before going to ask them for help.

Late December/Early January

1. Mail all of your graduate applications no later than January 15th (unless the deadline is earlier than that date). This will put you in line for the best assistantships, fellowships and/or financial aid packages. You can certainly apply later, but you may lessen your chances for receiving some form of financial assistance. Many graduate schools send out acceptance letters as early as March for a fall start date.


1. It is always a good idea to have “Plan B”, so begin exploring the world of work. That way if graduate school is not an option for you at this time, you will have already begun a preliminary job search.

2. Contact graduate programs about the possibility of visiting the campus during your winter break. Make trips if possible.