The time has come: graduate schools have opened their registration forms and are waiting for eager students, such as yourself, to apply. This leads to an internal debate: should you apply as soon as you can or focus on your schoolwork and wait until the last minute to apply to graduate school?
Traditional advice would tell you to apply as soon as possible. These are the best schools, the sooner you get in the sooner they can evaluate you! But is this strategy truly the best route to take? Are there advantages to waiting? Let's examine both sides of the coin.
The Case for Just Doing It
Simply put, the advantage of just doing it is stress reduction. Planning for the application process months in advance and then applying as soon as possible removes the stress of trying to get all of the work done before the deadline.
Additionally, doing your work as soon as you are able will let grad schools know that you are serious about furthering your education. The more you display your eagerness to schools along with your well-made application, the better your chances of being accepted.
Of course, doing this has a downside. While you will relieve stress related to the end of the application process, you may still find stress in the waiting process.
The Case for Waiting
On the other hand, waiting until the last minute to apply can be beneficial depending on how you go about it. One advantage of waiting is that you have the potential to more finely craft your application essays, as well as take the GRE test additional times if you feel it necessary to improve your score.
On top of that, waiting allows you to prioritize other tasks, if necessary. For a current student, this means getting that big project out of the way before worrying about the application process.
The downside of waiting, however, is the risk of stress from trying to accomplish the application process at the last minute. Many people tend to procrastinate on their tasks, which can lead to unnecessary stress when the crunch time comes. This is the primary risk of waiting, in addition to not having the benefits of applying immediately.
All in all, both waiting for grad school and applying as soon as you can have their merits. Both also have their share of risks to go along with said merits. While I would give the advice of immediate application with careful planning, the choice is ultimately up to the individual.
Regardless of the method you choose to pursue when applying for graduate school, be prepared for whatever lies ahead. If you choose to apply immediately, don't stress whether you were accepted or not. If you choose to wait to apply later on, be sure you haven't procrastinated so long that you have to scramble to barely get the application ready in time for the deadline.
Be ready for anything and you will find that your application process will go smoothly, no matter which method of application you choose to pursue.