226: How to Survive a Tight Grad School Deadline

226: How to Survive a Tight Grad School Deadline


In this episode, I share advice on what to do if you run into a tight grad school deadline. My advice is particularly tailored towards non-traditional grad school applicants individuals returning to school later in life.

I ask that you consider a few things before starting your application materials. Consider the cost of attendance, see if you can talk to alumni, faculty, or grad students to gauge the worth of the program. And after that, you’ll need to work diligently to prepare your application materials.

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226: How to Survive a Tight Grad School Deadline


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome back everyone, to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette. Today I'm gonna be talking to you about what you need to do if you happen to have a tight grad school deadline. I'm bringing this up because I. Just had two consultations with non-traditional grad school applicants.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: In both cases, these were women of color who are mom of multiple children who have decided to go back to school at a later age, and who somehow found themselves discovering the perfect graduate program for them. But the deadline is coming up in . Two to three weeks, what do you do if that happens? Now, this is not the first time that this situation has come up for, not for me, but like, uh, [00:01:00] among people that reach out to me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: This is actually quite common. A lot of times folks, you know, are debating whether or not to go to grad school. They've taken some time. . Away from their studies for many, many reasons. And then somehow the perfect program falls on their lap and it feels like the stars have aligned and this is the right time for them to apply.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And when this happens, I will ask them to consider the following. One is, do you absolutely have to apply this year or can you hold off and apply next year? Why do I say this? I'm not trying to discourage the person, but I asked this especially after I've asked a couple of other questions. So I've asked, have you looked into the.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Investment of how much it's gonna cost you to [00:02:00] complete this program, especially when they're master's degree programs. And, and these consultations I recently had, both of them were master's degree programs. So I say, okay, what is the cost of attendance? How much debt might you expect to incur? Is the investment worth it?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Like, are you gonna get a return on your investment in terms of the opportunities that you're gonna get from this? Program. If you're not sure, talk to alumni from the program. How do you find alumni? You? One of the easiest ways is by looking people up on LinkedIn. If you don't have a LinkedIn account, and I know a lot of people don't especially folks who maybe

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Are not accustomed to using social media. They might not have a LinkedIn account, but I, I strongly encourage you to create one set, one up and start to look people up. Reach out to these folks who you know are alumni in the program. Ask them what their experience was. Did it make a substantial difference in their career path?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And [00:03:00] take a look at the trends of the alumni and what type of careers they have. Are they in the line of work that you want to be in? So that's the first thing. Talk to alumni. And then of course . I'm gonna say, have you had a chance to talk to the faculty in the program? Have you had a chance to talk to the grad students in the program?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know this is a lot of work, but also if you are going to invest your time and energy and perhaps a lot of money, wouldn't it be worth it for you to do a little bit of extra research and digging to find information that is critical for you? To apply and to be confident in your decision to apply.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Because if you're gonna be, especially folks who are trying to hire me, I'm like, you're investing your money to hire a coach to help you strengthen your application materials. I wanna make sure that the programs on your list are actually, uh, the right programs for you are actually worth your time. [00:04:00] And this is even more important in the case where folks are only applying to one to two programs.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: They're like, oh, this is the perfect program for me, or This is the only program near me, or, I am unable to move and I don't wanna do an online program. This does happen sometimes folks. Intentionally make the decision to put all their eggs in one basket and they say, if I don't get in this time around, I'll reapply next year, but I only wanna do this program.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So if you're only gonna apply to one program or two programs, or even any number, that's less than . A five. I would say you wanna really make sure that you, that those programs are worth your time. That's still true. If you have a longer list, if your list, you know, it's sometimes lists are like 10, 12 programs long.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You still wanna do your research, at least for your top programs. But if you only have one or two programs, you . Definitely wanna, like I said, talk to the alumni, talk to the faculty, [00:05:00] talk to the grad students, find out if it's worth your time to complete this program. Because sometimes folks tell me because, okay, so I ask them about.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Can you wait until next year to apply? Because two to three weeks is not enough time to get all that information if you haven't already done that research. If you tell me, Hey, it's, you know, I just found out about the deadline, but also I personally know someone who completed that program or I personally know the grad students 'cause I was in proximity to them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Or like, whatever the reason is, you've already been able to. Do your research and get the information. Great. Okay. What are the next steps? If you're definitely applying this year, the next steps are, take a look at my checklist. Uh, you can find my checklist of all the materials that you need to apply to grad school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: In my book is grad school for [00:06:00] me. Demystifying the application process for First Gen Bipoc students. I also provide a checklist in the free workbook that you get for pre-ordering the book. So if you want that list now, you can go ahead and pre-order my book, go to my website, add your order details. You get that checklist, but take a look at that checklist.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: See, okay, what are the key things that I need to do? I need to order my transcripts, I need to submit my my DRE scores. If need to submit your scores. Do you need to apply for a fee waiver if you don't have to worry about the GRE, which is becoming more common. It's more common for programs to make it optional or not require it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So let's say you don't worry about the GRE. Let's say you're not applying for a fee waiver. You are just . Worrying about submitting your transcripts, order your transcripts. Then the second thing you wanna do is ask for letters of rec, because if you don't have your letters of rec, you can't apply. So there's no point in even bothering to draft your [00:07:00] materials if you don't have your recommenders.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And here's what happens a lot. People say, oh, I don't wanna ask for a letter of rec because I don't have my materials yet. No. You ask for a letter of rec first, then you tell them, I will have the materials ready to send to you by X date, which is a date after you've already asked them. And then you work on your materials and send them a draft and you tell them it's a draft.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's not the final draft, it is a first draft. And if they wanna give you feedback, they can. If they don't want to, that's okay. But the point is you wanna get them to say yes before you even finish drafting your materials. So, yeah, send your transcripts, ask for letters of rec, work on your application, essays, work on your CV or resume.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Take a look at what else is needed, and gonna have to work really, really hard, uh, those next two to three weeks to get everything in on time. But it is technically doable. [00:08:00] I'm not a fan of rushing through this process. In fact most of my clients will go through this process across a span of three months before their first deadline.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and some people start even earlier than that. Some people have December deadlines and they're already thinking and working on their materials in July and August. So if you are someone who doesn't work well under pressure, or even if you're someone like me, I cannot just . Work really hard for two weeks straight without expecting some sort of flare up.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I will make myself sick if I work. Too hard. If I work 12 hour days or more, or anything intensive, that's just my body is different and that's okay. So I know that for me, if I found a perfect program, the deadline was in two weeks, it just, I would give myself [00:09:00] the year, or if it's a rolling deadline, which comes up for master's programs, I would give myself the extra time.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So that I can, uh, confidently work on my materials and get them to a point where I'm proud to submit them. I wouldn't wanna rush through them, send something I'm not a hundred percent convinced and proud of, uh, because then even if I got in, I would be questioning. The whole process. Like did I actually cross my T's and.my I's so, okay.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Let's say this is you. Long story short, I wanna cut to the chase. I wanna keep this episode short. You just found out about a perfect program. You've got two to three weeks. Ask yourself, do you have enough information to confidently apply and know that this program is worth your time? [00:10:00] If yes. Do you have the time, energy, capacity to get all this work done?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Go through the grad school application checklist and do it in this short span of time. If yes, then good luck. I, you know, hope everything works in your favor. It's definitely possible if you said no to any one of those two things, I encourage you to give yourself more time. Either apply. . At a later time on a rolling basis, or apply next year.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If again, there's no strong sense of urgency, if you feel like there's not gonna be a substantial difference if you do it this year versus next year, then why not give yourself some breathing room so that you can work on the application and make sure it's as strong of an application as possible before you submit it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's it for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful, and I will catch you all next time.[00:11:00]

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