If anyone ever tells you that applying to graduate school is easy, they’re lying. It might be rewarding and important to you, but the application process is a major pain. If you’re riding the same struggle bus that I am, here are ten things you know to be true…

1. Thinking, “This isn’t too bad!”

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Just stay organized and keep a calm head, and it will all be fine.

2. Realizing that there’s a lot of different steps.

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Personal statements? Writing samples? Taking the GRE?

3. Wanting to throw in the towel.

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Sure, you’re passionate about following a certain career path and you love education, but maybe you’ll be totally happy settling for something else…

4. Forcing yourself to get refocused.

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One step at a time. It’s the only way to manage. (Please don’t sacrifice your well-being or mental health. Prioritize yourself. Self-care always comes before applications).

5. …And making spreadsheets and to do lists your new best friend.

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It’s really the only way to stay organized, especially if  you’re applying to multiple schools with different requirements.

6. Writing. And revising. And revising again. And writing some more.

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See: Asking professors for help, every step of the way.

7. Panicking.

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What if this isn’t what I really want to do? What if I don’t get in anywhere? What if these programs aren’t right for me? What if I never finish my applications?

8. Realizing that applying to programs is a huge financial commitment.

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A couple hundred dollars to take a standardized test (betcha thought you were done with those #jokesonus), another hundred to send your scores, a couple hundred dollars in application fees, some money for your transcripts…)

9. Panicking again. And getting refocused again.

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Basically, repeating steps 3-8 until you hit that final submit button and…

10. Saying to yourself, “Yeah, this is a lot of work, a lot of money, and a big time commitment, but it’s all worth it to pursue what I love.”

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Clicking that final “submit” button is the happiest moment of the process and you’ll be so proud of yourself for making it through.

(And after, step 11 is beginning the waiting game).

For others who are applying to grad school or who are thinking about doing so, it definitely isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s rewarding. Don’t get discouraged. Reach out, ask questions, stay organized, do your research, and may the acceptance letters be ever in your favor.

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-Elena