The Graduate School Application Station

Developed by Trinity University graduates, Malisse Lummus and Asmara Lehrmann, the Graduate School Application Station welcomes all who are interested in applying for graduate school in the geosciences at U.S. programs. Both Asmara and Malisse noticed how challenging and overwhelming the task of applying to graduate school was and saw the need for a consolidated list of tips and tricks to help others better navigate the unwritten rules of the application process. One way to create a more diverse and equitable community is by knocking down the barriers to entry, and this website helps do just that for the geosciences.

The Graduate School Application Station leads aspiring geoscientists through a timeline from summer through fall, highlighting the most important aspects of the application process to consider during each period. The website is full of resources as well as encouragement and affirmations to get people through the tough times. Here is the breakdown:

Summer (May-August)

Deciding to go to graduate school

Everyone’s career path is different, and not everyone needs to attend graduate school to reach the career goals they have for themselves. This section will get people thinking about what really ignites their passions.

GRE Prep

Though the GRE is fading out of popularity with some universities, others still require their applicants to take it. After checking the requirements of the schools they are interested in, applicants should start thinking about how to study for the exam. The website recommends planning well ahead of time and organizing a study group. There are even links for information about fee waivers and free study resources.

Constructing a CV

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) may seem like something to worry about later on in the application process, but it is actually something that can come in handy early on. It is important to have a professional CV on hand just in case, and there are plenty of resources and templates for constructing your own.

Late Summer-Early Fall

Creating a support system

The application process can be very overwhelming with a lot of emotions to process. It is okay (and highly encouraged) to seek help. We recommend creating a support system and looking into counseling services. Prioritizing your mental health early on will help you succeed when things get tough later.

Choosing a program

Some folks will want a traditional Masters degree while others may want a professional Masters degree. If you never knew there was even a difference, the Graduate Application Station has got you covered with a breakdown of the two. Some people that have research experience will go straight into a PhD program after their undergraduate degree, and that is okay too. The path is different for everyone, and it is recommended that you talk to your advisors and mentors to help you decide.

Finding an advisor

The advisor is arguably the most important part of a degree program, but finding the right one can be tricky. The Graduate Application Station outlines where to look and how to gauge who might be the best fit for you.

Expressing interest

Once you have made your list of advisors and programs, you will need to express your interest. It can be daunting to reach out! The website has templates and advice for constructing those emails, as well as what to ask about once you have heard back.

Early-Mid Fall

Preparing to apply

Though it may seem simple, getting organized for applying is an important part of the process. You should make sure that you know all of your due dates, and the Graduate Application Station gives you some tips on how to keep track of it all.

Personal statement

There are only two parts to this time period because the personal statement for graduate school is crucial and time consuming. Riddled with “unwritten rules,” mastering the personal statement is no easy feat. Things such as avoiding buzzwords, customizing each letter to each program you are applying to, and being patient with your editing will help you through.

Mid-Late Fall

Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation can be scary to ask for, but your professors and mentors are happy to do it, so you should make it easy for them. Getting together your materials, asking them early, and gently reminding them about deadlines will help your letter writers deliver glowing reviews about your academic performance.

Actually applying

You did it! The final step is setting a work schedule, sticking to it, and actually turning in your applications.

Check it out for yourself!

Please check out the Graduate School Application Station for the full breakdown of the process as well as resources and links. Be aware that these are loose recommendations, thoughts, and opinions of two students who recently went through the application process. It is possible that things have changed since it was written. Always check with your advisor, and do what is best for you.

Bridge Programs

Bridge programs offer underrepresented students the opportunity to attend institutions that will help you continue your education in graduate programs. The AGU Bridge Program allows students to apply to many universities using a single free form. Students will also recieve a free AGU membership with access to grants, scholarships, and mentoring. The Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM is a program designed to increase the participation of students from underrepresented groups in Ph.D. programs. The program aims to help students strengthen their graduate school applications and to prepare for the transition into Ph.D. programs.