Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Hi there! I think we can all agree that there is SO much information we have to keep track of for our grad school applications. From information we find about each school to all the documents we have to submit, it still overwhelms me to think about!
But, I have found that it is SO much easier to handle every aspect of the application process when you are organized.
In this post, I’m giving you 11 of the BEST organization tips that will help ease your entire application process!
At the end, I give away my absolute #1 recommendation on grad school application organization. Enjoy!
PSSSST! I encourage you all to check out our Product & Service options to gain access to our full range of helpful guides & templates!
11. Make a Folder Specifically for Grad School Applications
The materials necessary for your grad school applications will add up quickly! It is important to have a completely separate file for all your application information on your computer. Title it: “Grad School Application Items” so that it’s easy to find.
Within this folder, you can create individual folders for each school you are applying to, or you can keep it simple with one folder. I recommend keeping it simple unless you begin to acquire too many separate documents per school.
10. SAVE This Folder to More Than Just Your Desktop!
Save it on any sort of online drive you have – dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, anything!! It is imperative that your documents are safe and sound. An extreme nightmare could become real life, real quick if your computer decides to shut down on you when your application items only ever lived there.
9. Add Both Unofficial & Official Transcripts
Downloading an unofficial copy of your transcript is always a good idea. Some schools may ask for it before your official one is turned in to the preferred common application service (for example, CSDCAS). After you request an official copy from your undergraduate school, add the official one to your folder as well. Be sure to submit your official transcript to the application service.
8. Resume Formats
Save your resume in both .doc and .pdf formats. Submit the .pdf format as you apply, but keep the .doc one in case you need to edit something before submission. After any update, save it as the .pdf so that your official resume stays up to date as well.
P.S., need some guidance on how to format your resume? When you have access to the DIY Grad School Application Success Bundle, you can download our easy-to-customize resume template!
7. Make a General Personal Statement
If you have read my post about How to Write the Best Grad School Personal Statement, then you know how to easily tailor your personal statement to fit each school’s requirements. Here in your grad school folder, you can save the general format of your personal statement. Simply open it up and make a copy to edit for each school.
6. Add Specific Grad School Names to the Titles of School-Specific Documents
Example: “S. Smith Personal Statement – [Insert University]”. If you don’t create a separate folder for each school (totally understandable – so many folders!), then it’s absolutely a good idea to save your documents with the name of the "send-to" school easily visible. This is for uploading purposes. It would be a messy situation to submit a personal statement to one school that talked all about how you wished to attend a different school!
If you are unsure about what schools you want to apply to, then check out this post on How To Find the Right Grad School For You! Also, use the Checklist for Adding a School to Your Application List found in our DIY Grad School Application Success Bundle.
5. GRE Score Document
When you get your GRE scores back, take a screenshot or download the page that has your scores on it. Doing so makes it very easy to find your scores when you need them. Saving them here saves you time from having to find the scoring website, log in, and search for the scores page every time you need them!
In addition to ease of access, some schools require a documented unofficial score. For example, if something goes wrong with the electronically received scores, you can provide them with a backup, unofficial document displaying your scores. Schools typically don't require this, and they will clearly state it if they do. Either way, it's a good idea to have this backup just in case!
4. Download & Save Your Completed "Supplemental" Applications
Some programs are considered a part of a broader University Graduate School. These oversight schools handle various parts of admissions, tuition payments, etc. Some of these broader schools require a short application from you, as well. The department's application will explicitly state if this is required of you.
If a supplemental grad school application is required, they will direct you to the school's site to fill out a general application. After you have completed the supplemental application, download a copy and save it for your records. Not only for "just in case" purposes, but also for you to easily keep track of which supplemental applications you have completed.
3. Write Down Your Grad School Application Due Dates in Your Planner
Even if you have a general idea of when all your grad school applications are due, it helps to visualize it on a calendar. You will also keep better track of your time and completion progress if you have subsequent reminders of the application due dates.
Planners aren’t really your thing? They weren’t mine either until I found Erin Condren! Erin Condren makes it extremely easy to get used to actually using a planner. She has plenty of formats so you can find the one that’s just right for you, at just the right price.
I highly recommend these planners - they are the best planners I've used & loved all throughout college! My current planner is the one you will see in most of my pictures. It's got monthly calendars and detailed weekly schedules. For more information on my favorite planners, head to The 2 Absolute Best Student Planners for College & Grad School!
If you want to learn more about Erin Condren layouts, check out their site here.
2. Schedule Time to Work on Your Grad School Applications
I think you will soon realize that when that first semester starts up and you’ve still got grad school applications to finish, time management can get a little hectic. You will thank yourself for scheduling out specific times of your days or weeks to spend on applications. Whether what works for you is an hour a day, or three hours once a week - it's worth it to allot that time.
If you stick to a written schedule, you won’t let yourself go overboard on grad school applications one day, and get nothing done the next few because of it.
1. Excel Spreadsheet with Individual School Info – My #1 Tip!
Keep the information about each of your potential grad schools right in one place. This is especially helpful for those of us applying to a number of schools.
I have created a customizable grad school organization spreadsheet to share with you all. I used this template, and it was extremely helpful in keeping me organized with everything from GRE codes to open house dates and much more.
All at the tip of your fingers in ONE easily accessible sheet! How convenient is that?!
Access the grad school organization spreadsheet in the DIY Grad School Application Success Bundle here. It has 21 columns of information to track throughout your grad school application process as you research potential graduate programs to apply to.
Whether you’re just getting started or have some of these items already completed for submission, these 11 easy organization tips for your grad school applications will help you become more efficient throughout the application process!
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day and good luck with your grad school applications!