Applying to any school can be time consuming, let alone applying to a school in another country.
I first thought about applying to schools in London last May – I didn’t start sending off applications till mid September. Now partially this is because many schools didn’t open up for application submissions until the beginning of September/October, but mainly because it took a long time to get everything I needed organized and ready to submit.
The basic information is always easy, its the personal statements and references that can take the most time. For my personal statement (which was around 750 words) it took me about two months of rewriting, maybe even a bit more, to finally finish it.
The editing process is what can be tricky, and if you’re like me its hard to ever be finished with a piece of writing let alone a paper that you’re hoping will get you into grad school.
Across the Pond was great for helping with that.
My advisor, god bless her, worked with me step by step through my rewrites until finally it was done. If you are writing on your own, I highly recommend having someone you know take a look at your writing and double and triple check your work. It always helps to have another set of eyes. As well, I like to print off my drafts and write on the paper.
Sometimes its easier to find your mistakes when you have a physical page of writing in your hand compared to staring at your laptop screen.
Getting your references can also be very time consuming. Depending on who you ask, they can take as quick as a few weeks or as long as 3 months. Or they could even not get back to you at all!
I had asked one of my professors in June for a reference letter which they kindly had said they would, only to email them come August and not hear back from them. This meant finding a new person who fit the criteria for acceptable referees (usually an employer or a professor) in what felt like a short amount of time with the application open date coming up soon.
So with that, I encourage you to ask your professors and employers for references as soon as possible. Not only will it take a weight off of your shoulder, but it will also give them a large amount of time to get your letter done.
Once you get those two thing out of the way, the rest of the application process is relatively easy. After you’ve submitted your applications most schools in the UK will get back to you relatively quickly, usually within a month or so.