5 Tips for Applying to Graduate School

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Updated August 4, 2020

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

  • Begin Early
  • Create an Interesting Personal Statement
  • Provide a Concise Resume
  • Prepare for an Interview
  • Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation

When deciding to attend graduate school, it is essential to understand how to get through the application process. Since massive amounts of people apply to graduate programs each year, it is important to ensure that your application stands out from the crowd. By following five key tips, you can create a killer resume and complete an interview with ease.

Begin Early

Applying to graduate school can be a long and complex process. Each school has unique requirements. In most cases, an applicant needs to write an essay, provide transcripts and references, and complete certain exams. International schools may require language proficiency, as well. To avoid potential problems and to keep up with deadlines, it is critical to begin the process as soon as possible. Individuals who procrastinate may experience technical issues that cannot be addressed on time. To make sure everything stays on course, it is wise to keep a calendar with important dates highlighted, including scholarship application deadlines.

Create an Interesting Personal Statement

Many grad school applications require an applicant to include a personal statement. To impress the admission officers, applicants should research the department and the particular course of intended study. Many times, a school will be conducting research or have a clear set of goals and it is essential to use a personal statement as a tool to explain how individual abilities and experience align with the department goals and benefit the college. With this in mind, it is wise to tailor a personal statement for each application.

Provide a Concise Resume

A resume is an interview on paper; it is a representation of personal accomplishments and relevant experience. Unfortunately, many individuals include too much information. A resume should be kept under two pages with a focus on academic and professional achievements. A solid resume tells a story about a person's past and future goals. Instead of listing awards, it is better to quantify accomplishments. This means being specific with details. For example, it is important to include information like "helped increase 2014 sales by 20 percent using social media campaigns." Using buzzwords works as well – "built community involvement" and "encouraged sharing through social media" are relevant phrases that incorporate industry terms and create a clear picture of past experience.

Prepare for an Interview

Walking confidently into an interview cuts anxiety and creates a spirit that attracts admission officers. However, assurance should not be confused with arrogance. The best way to prepare so that a person maintains poised composure is formulating questions and answers. Knowing how to respond to common inquiries and comprehending the best questions to ask an interviewer will help show genuine interest in a particular school. Instead of practicing a set speech, it is better to stick with a few points that explain an individual's background and future goals. To maintain a positive mindset, it is wise to get proper rest and eat a good meal before a big interview.

Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are critical components of a graduate school application. These letters act as discussions between "experts" in a particular field and the institution of interest. Even though high grades and test scores matter, these letters are often deciding factors for admission. It is essential to select writers who have personal knowledge of the applicant's skills and who can comment on the person's potential. Writers should be able to speak on an applicant's behalf by explaining the individual's goals, motivation, and commitment. If possible, it is best to select professors or similar sources who are well-known at the college of application. Although it may vary, it is customary to send three letters of recommendation per application.

Applying for graduate school can be a daunting experience. However, having personal confidence and knowing important tips to get through the process in a smooth manner will make the effort successful.

Related Resource: What Millennials Need to Know Before Applying to Grad School

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