Applying to Grad School: How Many Should I Choose?

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In summary, the speaker is preparing to apply for graduate schools and wants to narrow down their list of 43 potential schools to 20-30. However, they are concerned about not having a good GRE score and the difficulty of obtaining recommendation letters for all schools. The advice given is to apply to 6-10 schools, with a mix of safety, good, and dream schools, and to make the process easier for recommenders by providing them with prepared packets. The speaker also suggests researching programs closely before applying and considering the cost of application fees.
  • #1
Physics_wiz
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So, I have to apply for grad schools soon and wanted to get a list of all the ones I will be applying to so I can give my recommendation letters writers enough time. Originally, I had a list of about 43 schools that I wanted to apply to. They were all in the top 45 schools for Mechanical Engineering. I narrowed it down a bit, but I kindda want to apply to 20-30. Problem is that my chance of getting accepted isn't great because I won't have a very good GRE score. Of course I wouldn't mind applying to all 40 schools, but I don't know how to get recommendation letters for all of them. How many schools do people usually apply to? Someone told me to just pick 5 out of my list...I was thinking at least 10 (with a few like Texas A&M for high acceptance rate as a safety)?
 
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  • #2
First, let me say I've applied to several so I know how time consuming it is and what is involved.

My advice is to apply to as many as you want, but realize that it takes ALOT of work to fill out all these applications and prepare the information for your recommenders. I would say 6-10 is enough to reasonably cover all your options. Maybe 2-3 schools you know you have a great shot at, 3-4 good schools you have a decent but not great shot at, and 2 schools you'd love to get into that you'd have a slim chance of getting into.

Also, as far as I know there is no engineering GRE(there used to be) so I'm assuming your talking about the General GRE and about the verbal section. I don't think a low score on the verbal will really hinder your chances too much provided you do well on the quantative and have good grades and hopefully good recommendations. What I mean is, it isn't the only factor, so I don't think it's the end of the world if you do bad. You should do well on the quantative portion, and if you are unprepared you can get prepared and do very well. I think it's harder to prepare for the verbal section, it takes a lot of time to learn so many words, but any preparation is better than none, so just do your best.

As for how to get so many recommendations. Prepare a packet for each recommender with self-addressed envelopes with postage already included and explicit instructions, deadlines, and so forth. Make it as easy as possible for them to send the letters. Also, do you really want to go to all those schools? I mean, have you looked really closely at each programs details? I also started off with a huge list but I found my choices getting slimmer as I did more research.

Goodluck.
 
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  • #3
In my grad school prep program they recommend around 2 you don't expect to get into, 5 you'd like to and have a chance, and 3 sure bets. But that's already around 500 bucks in application fees, not to mention cost to send in your GRE scores. I guess if you can afford it, you can apply to more. I know one school a friend was looking at had an application fee of $170. Yikes.
 

Related to Applying to Grad School: How Many Should I Choose?

1. How many graduate schools should I apply to?

The number of graduate schools you should apply to varies depending on your individual goals, qualifications, and financial resources. It is generally recommended to apply to 3-5 schools to increase your chances of acceptance while still being manageable in terms of time and money.

2. Should I only apply to top-ranked schools?

It is not necessary to only apply to top-ranked schools. Consider your academic strengths and interests, and research schools that align with them. Additionally, consider the availability of financial aid and the overall fit of the program for your personal and career goals.

3. Is it better to apply to more schools to increase my chances of acceptance?

While it may seem logical to apply to as many schools as possible to increase your chances of acceptance, this can also be costly and time-consuming. It is important to carefully research and choose schools that align with your goals and qualifications rather than just applying to a large number of schools.

4. Can I apply to different programs within the same university?

Yes, you can apply to different programs within the same university. However, it is important to carefully consider each program's requirements and your qualifications before submitting multiple applications to the same university.

5. What materials do I need to apply to graduate school?

The materials required for graduate school applications vary by program, but typically include transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, and a resume or CV. It is important to carefully review the requirements for each program you are applying to and gather all necessary materials before submitting your application.

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