Applying to graduate school requires a lot of self-reflection. At this point, you should know what your goals are and what you expect to get out of higher education. Your academic, professional, and personal goals should be clear, because grad schools are going to want to know why you are applying. As college comes to an end, it is not unusual for students to feel burnt out. The application process can be a bit intimidating but these five application tips should help make things easier.

1. Give Yourself Time

The graduate school timeline will be against you if you start too late. It doesn’t only take a while to fill out most applications; there are also exams such as the GRE, written personal statements or application essays, and the need to include transcripts and references. Gathering all the required materials can take a few weeks. It’s therefore not a good idea to wait until the last minute. Plus, there is test prep to consider – you want to make sure everything is there; if any details are missing, admissions teams will pass on your application.

2. Follow all the Directions

Admissions offices often create directions to test your ability to follow them. If you ignore crucial instructions, it may appear that you are unlikely to adhere to the school’s policies and procedures. Send exactly what is asked for. For example, don’t send more than two recommendation letters if the school asks for exactly that, and don’t exceed word limits on essay questions.

3. Make Sure Your Application Is Presentable

If there are spelling or grammatical errors on your application, the admissions committee may think you are careless or not serious about attending their school. Nothing else will make up for such mistakes – even if you have a high GPA, great recommendation letters, and top GRE or GMAT scores. It also helps to show you’ve researched the institution, department, and program you are applying to. Try showing some interest in ongoing research at the school, as the admissions committee will like to see how good a fit you are and how your goals and abilities will benefit the program.

4. Check All Scholarship Deadlines

The deadline for your graduate school application isn’t the only one to consider. Deadlines for scholarship applications often come earlier, so you don’t want to end up being accepted and not able to pay for your education. The first place to look is the university or program website. If you look for financial support (from the institution or outside funders) where you see USC offers a masters program in applied psychology, all the relevant information may be there. Also, there are research available funding options from the government or non-profit organizations.

5. Keep a Professional Tone

Applying to graduate school is stressful. You may not always get the answers you want, but if, for example, admissions personnel at Clark University are showing interest, keep your cool and act confident. Be careful not to be demanding or aggressive. These application tips will help you play the part so the graduate school of choice sees you’re ready for the hard work ahead.