I have done version 6.4 of my SOP and begun to customize my SOP to the schools' essays. Started work on 5 schools' essays - of which 3 are 99% completed and the other 2 are 97% done. Just need to review them a bit more before I finalize and "pdf" them.
I have also decided that I will not rush to complete the research paper for the application process. At this stage, I don't think the paper will make it in time to significantly strengthen my application. Furthermore, the journal which my collaborator and I are targeting is not exactly in the A-list. I came to this conclusion after talking to one of my recommenders (not my collaborator) over the weekend that just passed, as well as reading a relevant posting in Testmagic today. Nevertheless, I hope to wrap this research paper up by Christmas - need to be responsible to the task, right?
As I reviewed the task list that I put in place a few months ago, it seems like I have done my best and made good progress in all departments except for publishing the research paper and talking to potential advisors in the schools that I'm applying to. Hopefully, these will not come back to haunt me in a few months' time.
Hence, what are outstanding in my last lap are the last 2 recommendation packages (which should come in by this month end), the essays, and some financial certifications that I need to do for some of the schools. I think I should be able to submit some of the applications as early as Oct.
God willing, I hope I will do a victory lap come Feb/March/April 2007.