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Should I apply during my senior year or after graduation?


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I'm a Junior at UC Davis majoring in English and I want to attend a graduate program for a Ph. D. My GPA is high but, because I transfered from a CSU, I've only been at UCD for one quarter and have taken enough courses to justify asking for a letter of rec from only one professor. Also, I don't have a prepared sample of writing over fifteen pages in length, though I could weld two essays from earlier courses together or write a research essay to submit to grad schools. Students at UCD can write a guided honor's thesis, which is basically formatted to fulfill grad application requirements, but that thesis is completed in the student's last quarter, well after deadlines for applications. Finally, I haven't studied for the GRE subject test in literature yet, and because I was initially in the sciences and took few English courses in my Freshman and Sophomore years, I'll have a lot of reading to do if I want to score well on that test.

So, as is probably obvious from how I've described the options, I'd much prefer to wait until after graduation to apply to graduate schools. I'd have a polished writing sample, time to take more courses and read more in order to perform well on the subject test, and much less stress than I would if I applied during my senior year.

However, for the life of me I cannot find good information on how much delaying my application to grad school until after receiving my BA will impact my chances of acceptance and on how that delay will look to whoever reviews my application. Does it even matter? I know many people return to school years after graduating, but I'm not so much concerned with whether it's possible to apply after graduation as I am with how it will look. If I'll have even a marginal advantage in admissions by applying during senior year, then I'm willing to stress for a while.

Anyway, I hope this is posted in the right place and I haven't missed some stickied topic on exactly this subject (I look around but didn't see one). Thanks in advance!

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I think the question is, do you think you are competitive enough to get into a PhD program if you apply during your senior year? Since you've only been to UC Davis for one quarter, the admission office will most likely combine your UC Davis' GPA with CSU's GPA. It is normal for undergraduate students to apply for PhD schools during their senior year, however, it's highly competitive. You will need to have a strong, solid GRE score, personal statement, and 3 letter of recommendations. Last but not least, you should go ahead start putting your application together and apply if you think you're ready. :)

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