Entry to Graduate School is a highly competitive process. On average, over 1.5 million applications are received by these schools every year. Out of those applications only about half get accepted. If this does not alarm you consider this, the acceptance rate for Doctoral programs alone is just about 25 percent. Scholarship programs and fellowship programs are under threat due to the recession as funding slows. All of this indicates the importance of trying hard and trying early.
The first step is to look for schools that interest you. Make a list of all the schools that you like based on location, facilities, reputation, etc. This list will possibly be a long one but don’t worry, this is merely the beginning. The next step is to divide the list into three broad categories:
1. The best and hardest to get into
2. The ones that have good facilities and fit your needs the most
3. The failsafe; in other words, the schools you wouldn’t mind settling for in case no one accepts you.
Now, prune each of those divisions by selecting the ones that you deem are the best out of the lot; other factors like semester fees, travelling and accommodation may play a deciding role here. Once you arrive at a fairly short list, do some research on the internet to find out all the details about those schools that you need to know. Try calling up some of the professors at those schools to get further information. Based on this information, cut down the list even further and start applying.