Graduate School Application Preparation

Tips and resources for Colgate students looking to put together the most competitive graduate school applications when preparing for life after graduation.


Application Materials

Graduate and professional schools require a significant amount of information during the admission process. Required materials often include: 

Testing requirements are typically noted on the program’s website. These are real exams, and to perform well requires students to adequately prepare. Many applicants choose to take standardized tests during a semester while still an undergraduate student, as they are already in an “academic mode.”

Test scores remain valid for an allotted time, typically a few years. Check the GREGRE Subject TestsLSATMCAT, or GMAT sites to learn about the longevity of your scores, to schedule your testing date, or to learn about testing accommodation services.

Writing a personal statement or a statement of purpose can be challenging; for some, it can be awkward to find the right tone when writing about one's own accomplishments, interests, and intentions.

Faculty members are wonderful resources to review polished drafts of personal statements. The career advisers and peer advisers in Colgate Career Services can also be a resource when preparing these materials.

Recommendation letters provide graduate schools with contextual information about applicants and their academic potentials. Most schools require 2–4 letters.

The Registrar’s Office allows students and alumni to request transcripts online.

Request a transcript

Supplemental essays, portfolios or other pieces of work may be required to showcase your experience, commitment, or understanding of the field to which you aspire.

Resumes and CVs are succinct ways to capture the breadth of your collegiate experience. Often, these documents are used to place students in assistantships. Get started by downloading our Résumé Guide and Application Letters Guide.


You will not receive the same consideration—or often consideration at all—if all components of your application are not submitted by the deadline. In fact, many processes give preference of their financial resources to those who demonstrate their focus and commitment by applying early.

Our career advisors and faculty members will help you learn how to navigate the application process. Contact career services to schedule an appointment.

Lastly, be sure to respond to offers by the program’s stated deadline. 


Funding can be a combination of student loans, assistantships (paid, part-time internships), grants, fellowships or scholarships. Each institution has a distinct way and timeframe to consider the financial needs of its students. Be aware that assistantship or fellowship application processes are likely concurrent to the application process. In fact, your admission decision may hinge upon whether you are offered an assistantship. The program’s coordinator or website is the best resource for this information. Even if assistantships are not offered directly through your prospective department, inquire as to what assistantships might be possible through the university—especially the student services division.