I had a massive Excel spreadsheet that I used to organize everything about all of the grad schools I was applying to at the time. It was so massive, I honest don’t know how to post a replica of it on this blog post. I’m not going to make you give me your email address to download an empty version of it or anything like that, either.
Instead, I’ll clearly talk you through each cell or column. Open up Excel, and start at cell A1. Follow along, and you’ll have the same thing in front of you in just a couple minutes.
Column 1: Name (A1)
This column was the very leftmost column of the entire spreadsheet, and contained the name of the university. Not the program name, not the name of the degree, the literal name of the school.
Column 2: Program (B1)
This column contained the actual name of the program and the full degree title.
Column 3: Location (C1)
This contained the city and state of the program.
Column 4: Deadline (D1)
This was simply the deadline to submit the application. I did not have it ordered by soonest to latest, but I think that would be an incredible thing to do so you can be more on top of your deadlines and prioritization.
Column 5: Starting (E1)
This was a column that had information about which quarter or semester I would theoretically start in the program if accepted. They were all Fall, so I don’t know why I included it. It did allow me to have a way to know if the schools were on the quarter or semester system, though, because I indicated that as well!
Column 6: Fee (F1)
I just typed in the application fee for each school in this column. Simple dollar amount. You can also probably just put in a number, like 50, if you are applying to schools in the same country and it’s obvious what the currency is.
Column 7: #LOR (G1)
LOR stood for Letter of Recommendation. They were almost all “3”, but some were “2 or more”, and others had specific requirements, such as “2 prof, 1 employer”. Include any details about the requirements that schools have for the people who they want to receive letters of rec from.
Column 8: Resume (H1)
Most schools didn’t require a resume, but some did, and for others, it was optional. Make sure to tailor the resume to match the type of research you want to do at that school, or the type of research that they do in that program.
Column 9: Personal Statement (I1)
I copied the pasted the personal statement prompt from the application portals and websites into each cell so that I could have the exact wording on hand and to be able to refer to it whenever I was preparing my application materials.
Column 10: Personal History Statement (J1)
This was required for only 3 of the programs I applied to. I did the same thing as in Column 9, and copied and pasted the exact wording of the prompt into the appropriate cell.
Column 11: Req Courses (K1)
This was a pretty sparse column. Only some of the programs I applied to required courses. I put the proper information into the respective cells, including semester lengths and if labs were required.
Column 12: Required Tests, Score (L1)
This was pretty much all GRE. No other test. In addition, only 2 of the schools I had on my list actually mentioned they needed their applicants to score above a certain level.
Column 13: Application Checklist (M1)
In each cell, I pasted a link to the checklist of items that the program required you to submit. It was really useful to have this in the spreadsheet, because if I wanted to double check anything on the spreadsheet, I could click and see the list immediately.
Column 14: Mailing Address (N1)
There is usually a special address that’s listed on the program website that you have to send certain documents to. I pasted that in the appropriate cell.
Column 15: Faculty (O1)
I put the names of the faculty I was interested in working with in this column. I also put in parentheses what they studied, at least according to the program websites. I did email every person I was interested in and update that info as time passed. Here’s my post that has templates of all the emails I sent related to grad school, and it includes templates of emails I sent to faculty members when I reached out before applying!
Column 16: Fellowship Consideration (P1)
This final column contained the fellowships that I might be considered for when I applied or if there were any that appealed to me for when I got in. For some schools, the fellowship application was part of the online application, and for others, it was separate. Some schools didn’t require any extra info to be considered for the internal fellowships. You should look out for internal and external fellowship websites to peruse.
Feel free to use this as inspiration to start your grad school application information spreadsheet! Remember, it’s incredibly important to do this as soon as you can, not as you’re applying. As you can see from some of the entries above, there are certain requirements that you have to fulfill in advance if you want to qualify or be considered, such as coursework. Make sure to look into grad programs as soon as you feel you’re interested, just to scope out what sorts of requirements they have. That way, you can plan it into your life starting from a year in advance or so, and get everything squared away without feeling rushed.
If you’re thinking about applying to grad school and want more tips, check out my post about the top 3 things that helped me get into an R1 research university straight from undergrad with a 3.1 GPA. It’s all about fit, and that posts goes into how you can demonstrate fit in 3 different ways!