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The Stress-Free Guide to Applying to College or Graduate School

Applying to college or graduate school can be overwhelming and stressful. A key part of the application process is being organized and prepared so that you can focus on the tasks at hand, which often comes easy for engineering students. But it never hurts to have some guidance, which is why Engineering IRL has compiled a list of tips and tricks that will help make this transition easier.

Work in Natural Light

Lighting has a major effect on your mood, concentration, and stress levels. When applying for college or graduate school, try to work in natural light instead of cortisol-raising artificial light whenever possible. This will help reduce stress levels while also increasing productivity.

Create a Task Schedule

Creating a timeline of tasks is crucial to stay on track when applying for college or graduate school. To manage your application efficiently, break down large tasks into manageable pieces and create a plan for each day. This way, you won't overlook any important steps in the process.

Gather Required Documents

Before you begin applying for college or graduate school, take some time to gather all the necessary documents, such as transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, etc. Having these documents ready will save you time later in the application process. Additionally, it may be beneficial to review these documents ahead of time so that any errors can be fixed before submitting them with any applications.

Explore Digital Resources

When researching potential colleges or engineering graduate schools programs online, look up information on the specific emphasis you are interested in pursuing and do some research on the faculty. The faculty will drive your program, so if you can follow big names in the field or scholars you admire, do it! The Princeton Review is an excellent source of information when trying to narrow down your college choices. In addition, utilizing other online resources can provide a comprehensive overview to help inform your decision.

You can also pursue trainings outside of traditional degree programs. Consider joining the community at Engineering IRL to access resources, training, and tips from and for engineers.

Provide Yourself Ample Time

Always give yourself ample time before deadlines when applying for college or graduate school. By doing so, you can help make sure everything is in order before submission day and account for any unexpected delays - e.g., transcript requests taking longer than expected, or faculty needing more time for your recommendation letters. This will help keep the timeline on track and avoid having to rush with last-minute changes.

Be Well-Nourished

Managing stress is key when applying to college or graduate school, and one way to help attain that goal is through healthy habits. This could include maintaining an exercise routine and dieting plan, as well as having healthy snacks or meals, like vegetables and fruits, on hand. Doing so will reduce stress levels throughout the application process while simultaneously aiding focus during long periods spent working on documents such as applications and essays.

You’ll likely be consuming more than your average amount of caffeine as you go through the stressful application process, but be careful not to overdo it. Take a moment to research how much caffeine is in your favorite coffee and espresso beverages. That way, you won’t accidentally have too many shots of espresso and find yourself wired when you need to be sleeping.

Get Ready for Standardized Tests

Standardized tests like the SATs and ACTs are important parts of some applications. Ensure you give yourself adequate time to study material before the exams. Grad schools will likely require the GRE. And, if you are close to graduating and getting a job in an engineering field, you’ll want to take the FE Exams.

It is important to familiarize yourself with both test content and strategies like timing out questions allotted per section in allotted time spans. This will help you feel more confident on the day of the exam.

Plan Out and Begin Your Applying

The college and graduate school application process can feel overwhelming, especially for those who don't know what to expect. Fortunately, our helpful guide can make the entire experience easier and more streamlined, so there's no need to be intimidated. By taking a few extra steps to stay organized and confident throughout the entire process, applicants can rest assured that they have done their best to ensure success.

For more articles like this, check out Engineering IRL. We provide information, guidance, data, and tools to help you build a successful career and life in the field of engineering.


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