If you are considering attending graduate school in the fall you should apply now. You will have plenty of time to weigh your options between now and then, but waiting to apply is a bad idea.
Here are three reasons you should apply now:
The application process may take some time
Once you decide on a program of study it’s smart to begin the application process as soon as possible. Requesting transcripts and letters of recommendation, as well as scheduling entrance exams (if required) takes time. Keep in mind, many key staff members in college records departments, as well as professors and administrators, take vacations over the summer. Transcripts and letters of reference may be delayed due to the limited availability of the people you need to ensure your application materials are solid.
Rushing around a week before classes start, begging for help to complete your application, is no way to start off your first semester of graduate school.
Enrollment issues may arise for those late to apply
Gaining acceptance to graduate study is the first step. Registering for classes is second. If you are not accepted you can’t register. Enrollment for the fall semester is underway. Many programs of study, as well as courses within those programs, have caps on enrollment. For example, Drury’s new online accessible MBA program is capped at 30 participants. If you wait to gain acceptance you may miss the cut-off, and go on a waitlist for a future semester.
The reverse may also be true. If enrollment for certain programs and/or courses are low they may be canceled and/or discontinued. By gaining acceptance and registering early, you may be able to keep a program or course above the cancellation threshold.
Late applicants may find it difficult to secure financial aid
Unless you have the funds to pay for graduate study on your own, you will likely find yourself seeking financial aid from various sources. Federal financial aid programs may take weeks or months to process applications and will not disburse funds to students who are not registered. If you wait to apply you could find yourself unable to accept the aid requested.
Scholarships and grants may also require recipients to be registered prior to funding. Keep in mind, these programs are usually highly competitive. If you come to the party late, you may drive home alone.
Graduate assistant (GA) positions are a great way to cover tuition costs. Guess what? You must be admitted to graduate study before you may accept a GA appointment. Also, graduate assistant positions open up in the spring when former GAs graduate. If you wait to apply to the graduate college, you may miss out on an opportunity to apply for a GA position. Once again, competition for these positions can be strong. You can’t afford to wait.
You might think, “What if I decide not to attend in the fall. Will I have to apply all over again in the spring?” At Drury, like many other graduate schools, your acceptance is good for a full calendar year. So, if you can’t start the fall semester this year you can start in the spring, summer, or fall of the following year.
Beginning the application process early has potentially tremendous upside with no downside.
Don’t delay, start your application today.