This is written for whoever wants some tips. I have filled out a handful of Graduate School applications and would like to help whoever is considering the prospect. This is just a short list of tips I have to share. If these are helpful, great! If not, my apologies.
1. JUST GET STARTED.
-For real. Just start the application(s). If you are working on more than one start them all. They all start the same. You have to fill in mundane information about yourself. Such things are: your name, address, undergraduate institution, gender, race, etc. Just start the applications and get that stuff out of the way. You will feel better after you do.
2. Letters of Recommendation
-Majority of universities want 3 letters. I suggest getting in touch with the professors you want to help you out here. Get in touch EARLY. Do not wait until the week before the application is due. It will not end well. It might seem scary to ask for a letter, but your professors are more than happy to do it. They want to see you succeed. Just ask them politely and you will more than likely get a "Yes". Also be prepared to send them a writing sample for them to refer to in the letter. Professors have a lot of students and can't be expected to remember what you wrote for their class 2 years ago. So don't be put off by this portion of the application. Just go ask.
3. GRE Exam
-This is a long-a$$ test you have to take to send scores to the universities you are applying to. It is just like the SAT in high school, just more. Don't be stressed by the prospect of taking this exam. It'll suck, regardless, but you will get through it. If you are worried about it I highly recommend checking out the GRE website: https://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/prepare/?W... Just look at the prep stuff. It will really help you.
4. GRE Exam Part 2
-Check which GRE exam your university wants. Some graduate programs want the Subject exam rather than the General exam. CHECK WHICH IS REQUIRED! For real. This is important otherwise you may be throwing away money.
-There are essays you need to write. The primary essays are the Statement of Purpose and the Personal History. The latter is exactly what you expect. It's pretty much the Personal Statement all over again. Pay attention to the prompt either way. For the Statement of Purpose you are writing about what you will do as a Graduate Student. You are outlining what you want to study and what it will be used for later. This is an important piece of writing so pay attention to the prompt. Name drop some professors here if you want. It'll help, but make sure it is related to your field of study. Just be sure to spend some quality time with these 2 essays. It will pay off.
6. Writing Samples
-You will have to upload examples of your work from your undergraduate institution. They do not have to be perfect, but choose what best exemplifies your skill. The universities just want to see if they can help mold you into the best academic version of yourself. Give them your best work, but also don't be afraid to have someone read over it once more for you. This is your way of giving the university a sample of the awesomeness you are capable of.
7. IT IS SCARY!
-Yes. Filling these applications can be daunting and terrifying. It's okay. You will get them done. Don't freak out if a professor hasn't submitted their letter for you by the due date. That can be submitted later. Just make sure it gets in within a week of the application deadline. Don't panic. Ask for help. It's totally okay. I was reduced to tears at one point during the process, but I prevailed and I have already received an acceptance. You can do it.