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  • Sagarika Paul

WoAA India Asks: Dealing with Graduate School Applications

The Graduate school application process can be long, tedious, and quite challenging. Starting August-September every year, application season lasts up to January-February of the next year. Within this time applicants have to shortlist universities, select the programs that align with their interests, talk to professors about positions in labs following which the actual application process starts.

Each university and program of study has different document requirements; some require only a Statement of Purpose while some universities might ask for a Personal Statement as well as a statement of research interest along with other supporting documents. There are also concerns about Letters of Recommendation. Getting one’s recommenders to send in their letters within the deadline is possibly one of the hardest tasks. It involves reminding them of the deadline frequently so that they don’t miss it. This gives rise to anxiety and we worry if our recommenders are getting irritated and tired in the face of our constant reminders.

Doing these tasks while being in the senior year of your studies or while holding a job is exhausting, to say the least. Some individuals might not have too many people to share their concerns with because they are worried about how their peers or bosses are going to react. This creates a sense of loneliness and isolation. Guidance becomes scarce and people turn to online platforms and forums for information. In most cases, this causes obsessive research leading to an information overload. We become hyperaware of what we are doing and second guess every step which causes a delay in the process.

We forget that this process is like a job that needs to be done, with care, definitely, but maybe not at the expense of one’s physical and mental health. We need to take a break from the application process, figure out which resources are relevant to us. We need to be able to discuss and share our concerns with our closest family and friends because an outside opinion might help us see things in a different light.

We asked our audience on Twitter about how they dealt with this burnout. Here’s what they had to say:

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