So, you’re applying to grad school—congratulations! As you’ve almost certainly noticed, grad school applications and preparations are time-consuming processes that can feel like jobs in and of themselves. And if you’re like a significant portion of prospective grad students, who have waited a year or more after graduation to begin looking at grad programs, you already have a full-time job of your own to contend with. So, how to balance? Can you really apply to grad school while juggling the time commitments and pressures of a 9-to-5 job?
Sure you can—if you plan ahead. Here are some tips:
Decide if Your Coworkers Will Know
This is a matter of personal choice, but it’s one you should work out for yourself before you begin your grad school prep and application process. Whether or not to tell your coworkers you’re applying to grad school is a decision that varies significantly based on your workplace, its culture, and your relationship with your colleagues. If your colleagues will be supportive, potentially even helpful as references, and you feel your workplace culture is friendly to the idea, go for it! Having some extra support is a good thing. However, some workplaces may be hostile to the idea, if they view it as your being dissatisfied with your current position. If that’s the case, it may be wisest to keep your plans to yourself.
Choose Your Prep Days, and Stick With Them
It’s easy to get caught up with your 9-to-5 and its rhythms and lose sight of your prep schedule. That’s why it’s important to pick a few days a week—say, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday afternoons—as your prep days, to work either on your own or with others on your test prep and applications. A focused system will help make certain you don’t lose sight of your prep goals.
Book Any Time off You Need Well in Advance
As you get further along in your grad school application process, you will likely need some time off—to take your GRE, GMAT, or LSAT, or to attend interviews and (in-person or virtual) school tours. It’s important not to get caught out with an important assignment at your job when you need a full or half day off for your grad school preparations, so be certain to book the time you need as soon as is feasible.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sacrifice a Weekend—It’s Only Temporary
No one likes to work weekends, but when you’re prepping for grad school and working a 9-to-5 job, it’s practically inevitable that you’ll need to at least a few times. Reviewing for your GRE, writing your grad school application essays, and catching up on things from your 9-to-5 that fell by the wayside in the wake of your prep work will all come up. But it’s important to remember—working through the week only to do more on the weekends may not be fun, but it’s temporary. And it will all be worth it when you’re accepted into your grad program of choice!