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Graduate School Information

What's Due When Dec/May Grad

Application Form





Deadline given on application

Letters of Recommendation







5th (unofficial)

Deadline given on application

Admission Test Scores




7th (final official)



8th (not always required)

After application is reviewed by school

*Allow yourself time to retake the test again if not satisfied with the first set of test scores. **Be sure to follow the deadline given on the website of the institution you wish to attend.

The idea is to build in time so that you are not rushed at the end. To do so, you should consider mid-term exams and finals of your senior year and schedule around them so that you can study for and take any necessary graduate studies exams. You will also need to factor in time for requesting and the writing of your letters of recommendations so that they are received by the overall application deadline. Finally, be aware that the fee can be paid early or later, as long as it reaches them by the application deadline.

Regardless of discipline, virtually all graduate school applications entail the same basic components:

  • Transcript
  • GRE or other standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement and/or admissions essay(s)
  • Application form
  • Interviews

Transcripts Provides information about your academic background

  • Grades
    • Indicator of how well you perform as a student
    • Reflects motivation and ability to do consistently good or consistently poor work
  • Which courses you took also matter
  • Transcript is not included in application that you send to graduate program; must be official
    • Sent by Registrar's office
    • Begin early the process of ordering transcript
    • Check that your transcript has arrived and allow enough time to request another transcript, if needed

Graduate Record Exams (GREs) or Other Standardized Test Scores

  • Most graduate programs require the GRE for admission; however, law, medical and business schools usually require different exams (the LSAT, MCAT, and GMAT respectively).
  • GRE Revised General Test with three categories: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing
  • Scores provide information about how you rank among your peers
  • Uses of standardized test scores
    • Cutoffs to eliminate applicants
    • Criteria for research assistantships
    • Offset weak GPAs
    • Low scores may be counter-balanced by other strengths
  • Budget for AND prepare for standardized test
  • Take standardized tests early (typically, the spring or summer before you apply)
    • Take no more than three times
    • Guide to programs for which you qualify
    • Time to be sure university receives the score

Letters of Recommendation

  • Permits committee to begin thinking of you as a person
  • Provides context for admissions committee to consider you
  • Ask professors with whom you have rapport to write sincere letters that accurately describe your strengths, select carefully
  • Begin early in order to give busy and procrastinating professors time
  • Provide all of the information that professors need to write a fair letter that describes YOU as a person; might include a copy of your resume or CV
  • Avoid letters from the following: friends, spiritual leaders, public officials. Committees are not impressed and may get the wrong impression about you

1 - Personal Statement and/or Admissions Essay Admissions committees deal with countless stacks of applications, faceless GRE scores and GPAs. How do they differentiate among applicants with similar scores and academic backgrounds? The personal statement. Your personal statement reveals a great deal about your ability to:

  • Write well
  • Think critically
  • Stick to the task at hand
  • Market yourself and explain why you're a good match for the program

Essentially, the essay is your opportunity to talk directly with the admissions committee, to call attention to important parts of your application that might otherwise be overlooked and to explain any discrepancies or potentially negative aspects of your application. It's your chance to help the admissions committee see you as a person instead of a grade point average and a list of standardized test scores.

  • Speak up for yourself and be yourself
  • Be creative and informative
  • Explain why you want to attend graduate school and why each program is a perfect match to your skills
  • Prepare early
  • Who will be reading your statement?
    • Faculty read for writing ability, motivation, maturity, passion for the field
    • Admissions committees read to determine qualities and attitudes needed for success and to eliminate candidates who do not fit the program
  • Weave in relevant skills, background and accomplishments
  • Relate to why the specific program attracts and motivates you
  • Avoid focus on tragic or special event that led to your decision
  • Describe how this program will benefit you and how you will benefit the program
  • After completing your first draft, ask for some feedback from people whose opinions matter to you such as professors and close friends. You will probably want to make revisions before sending in your final draft & have Career Services or the Writer's Studio Critique it.

2 - Application Form

  • Be absolutely certain that your application contains all the required elements
  • Incomplete applications are not considered and result in automatic rejection
  • May provide a chance to indicate your experience

3 - Interview

  • Sometimes what looks like a great match on paper isn't in person.
  • An interview is your opportunity to determine how well a fit the program is for you.
  • You're interviewing them, as much as they are interviewing you.
  • If you are given a choice, choose to interview. Practice with Career Services.

Other Possible Components

  • Writing sample
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Declaration of Intent regarding academic pre-requisites

The earlier you are aware of these options, the sooner you can take advantage of them possibly allowing you multiple sources of funds to continue your education. Scholarships - many schools operate similarly to Clayton State University's financial aid department in terms of scholarships available. Typically, there is a set of scholarships available to that institution's students only. Once accepted, you can apply to them. Often, they are listed on the school's financial aid website. Those for Clayton State University can be found at Scholarships.

  1. Other types of scholarships that exist are national or local. Some such websites to search for these include,, and
  2. Also, many Fraternities, Sororities, and Religious Organizations offer scholarships to their members, thus reducing the number in competition for them.

Assistantships - are a form of work available to graduate students on campus. Grad students are traditionally allowed to work for professors as their "assistant" in teaching classes, labs, or conducting research. In turn, compensation is provided in the form of pay as a stipend, tuition remission or some such combination.

Fellowships - typically offered by private groups or professional organizations to encourage research and development in their specific field of work. Funds are offered to graduate students to help pay for their studies.

Federal Financial Aid - see for details.

Work Reimbursement-some jobs may offer reimbursement for part or all of your tuition as a benefit in addition to salary and other compensation packages. Some employers require a minimum time commitment to the job after graduation, most require the maintenance of a certain G.P.A. to qualify, and some may want you remain part-time throughout your studies. All will vary according to employer.

Private Loans - may be obtained per individual student based on credit score and eligibility and proving your history of reliability in paying back previous loans and debts. Be careful of interest rates and predatory lenders. Review to learn more.

Grants - Grants are sometimes available for those who have access to or they themselves have a strong writing ability. Traditionally, grants require an extremely focused purpose and function in terms of the use of funds.

A good way to determine which methods may be more likely received for your area of study may be to research or ask the Program in which you are interested how most of their students tend to fund their education. You may learn of even more creative ways to create a package that serves your needs!

Are you looking to fill a gap of time between graduating and grad school or something else… settling into a full-time career? A Gap Year is known also as a "year off", "year out", "deferred year", "bridging year", "time off", "time out" or "overseas experience". Also, even though it is called a "Gap Year", Gap Year options commonly range in length from 6 months to 2 years. There are many, many ways to "fill the gap", including working temporary part-time and full-time jobs, volunteering, studying or working abroad, or doing a combination of those things! Gap Year Options are also often called "Year of Service Programs" because many of the options involve some type of service either here in the U.S. or abroad although there are less service-oriented Gap Year Options also, for example, education-related opportunities and many exciting work abroad options. If you are not accepted on your first attempt, follow up and find out what influenced their choice to not accept you at this time. Then determine if you are willing to make the necessary steps to increase your likelihood of gaining entry in the future. Also determine if you are willing to try other institutions or programs with different standards. Finally, use the "in between time" to gain experience, skills and knowledge about the field in which you wish to work. To do so, consider volunteering, part-time or full-time work, or training courses.

Value of Gap Year Options and Service Programs

A Gap Year/Year of Service experience can provide a chance for you to:p

  • Learn about yourself and your world
  • Make an impact within an organization or community
  • Test the waters of a possible career
  • Make a difference in an individual's life
  • Gain practical, hands-on, "real life" experience
  • Explore what it means to serve
  • Pursue an interest or a dream
  • Develop new skills
  • Take a break from school or before starting graduate school
  • Experience something you may not have the opportunity to later in life

Test Title

Study Guides


Math Review

Graduate Admissions Essays


Educational Testing Services



Princeton Review



Princeton Review CBT


Pharmacy School


Dental School

*Free access to guides is available in the Center for Academic Success & Clayton State Library

Clayton State University Continuing Education Registration
$159.00 and up

Test Prep Academy
(Approximately $799-$899 for each exam)

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Graduate Management Admission Test
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