5 Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Posted by Lauren Barnett on Feb 22, 2019 12:08:02 PM

Get ready to impress.

With application deadlines fast approaching, we want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. That's why we're offering you an inside look at top application tips — directly from our admissions staff themselves.

Follow these tips to stand out in the applicant pool: 

  1. Tell your life story well.

Your personal statement should be an authentic reflection of you. Don’t try to fit into a student ‘profile’ you think we might be seeking. We want to hear your story. Talk about the things that set you apart. Include past experiences that have shaped you and long-term career goals you have in mind for your future.

Showcase your passion, commitment, and ambition. Please note: there is a way to do this without coming off as a braggart. Excessive altruism and grandiose self-inflation will not impress the admissions committee.

It's all about fit. Clearly connect your passions, goals, and dreams to our academic program.  Tell us why you want to come to our university and our program in particular. Tailor your statement to include a paragraph about specific things that impress or excite you about our program, including relevant faculty research initiatives that align with your interests. 

  1. Proofread all materials.  Then, proofread again.

Polish your application and take pride in it by proofreading rigorously. Poorly written application materials come off as careless and sloppy. Watch out for any spelling or grammatical errors. Little mistakes in punctuation add up. 

All materials should be written concisely, but with enough detail to reflect your goals clearly. Your statement of purpose is an opportunity to demonstrate strong writing skills, which is a quality every admissions committee seeks as a predictor of success in graduate school.

The best way to strengthen your written materials is to have someone else give your application a second review. Ask a trusted family member, classmate, or colleague to review your application before you submit. They will be able to make improvements and catch errors you may overlook.

  1. Craft an impressive resume.

The best way to think about constructing your resume is to imagine our admissions committee is crunched for time and needs to quickly scan your document.

Your recent and relevant accomplishments should hold the most real estate on the page. Include leadership roles, involvement in student organizations, and research projects that showcase your skills.

Use crisp language that makes an impact, while providing useful detail. Leverage the power of active ‘doing’ verbs to describe your professional and academic experiences. Stay away from the qualifier 'responsible for' and start with the action itself instead.

  1. Request recommendations from those who know you best.

Recommendations should come from people who can best speak to your strengths.  They may be professional contacts, not just academic ones — especially if you've been out of school a while. We’d rather hear more genuine and specific comments about your abilities than receive a generic template created by a professor you had five years ago.

If you are currently in school, it's preferable to have at least one academic reference. Build relationships with professors by requesting one-on-one meetings with them. Tell them about your specific goals for the future. The world of academia is surprisingly small — your professors may even be willing to reach out directly to their personal connections if they know about your plans to apply to certain schools. 

  1. Connect with us.

Our last important piece of advice: introduce yourself. Sometimes it's about who you know...or who knows you.

Do background research on your program of interest. Visit campus. Schedule meetings with faculty members aligned with your research goals. Your visit to campus is a chance to impress faculty and admissions staff. It's also the perfect time for you to ask questions and make sure that the program is a good fit for you.  Be on time, be nice, and be yourself.

If you're unable to visit campus, you can still meet us! The admissions team travels all around the globe to graduate school events and fairs. View our travel schedule.

While there's no magic formula, following these guidelines will boost your application (and your chances of acceptance). We hope these tips prove helpful to you as you embark on this exciting next step in your life!

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Topics: Graduate Studies