Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting Into Graduate School

Fast Fact: Each year, approximately one-quarter of the graduating class goes on to graduate school.
Getting into grad school is far from a slam-dunk. Undergraduates are up against not only their peers, but also nontraditional students who have been in the work force and are returning to school enhance to their skills.
Set yourself apart from the competition and stand out to graduate school admissions recruiters with these helpful tips.

Do your homework.
Thoroughly research the schools that fit your area of concentration. Take a look at the scope of their programs, investigate their requirements, find out about financial aid options and processes, and so forth. Get the lay of the land. Graduate school admissions recruiters want to see that you are genuinely interested in attending their institution, so learn all you can and make an informed decision about the schools you would like to attend.

Understand each school’s application process.
Once you’ve done your homework and narrowed down your choice of schools, make sure you have your materials together before you start applying. Every school is different, and you may not have to send the same packet of information to each one.
·       Do the schools require scores from standardized tests like the GRE, MCAT, or GMAT? Give yourself plenty of time to take (and retake, if necessary) the required tests.
·       Do you need to provide a writing sample? Carefully craft your sample.
·       Do you need a list of references? Lisa Palacios, director of student recruitment at the University of Texas - San Antonio, recommends putting together a packet of information for references—a school brochure, information about the program you’re applying for, and a copy of your resume so they can refer to it if necessary. Your references are vouching for your academic performance as well as professionalism, so give them the tools they need to write you a glowing referral.

Don’t procrastinate.
Graduate schools have firm deadlines that they expect applicants to meet. These deadlines are in place for a number of reasons, not least of which is financial aid. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete in-depth documents like the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) or any financial paperwork. Keep track of necessary deadlines. Don’t leave everything until the last minute.

Other tips for graduate school applicants
If the program allows it, reach out to the program director in advance of applying to show that you’re a serious candidate. This can also help you get a sense of whether you are a good fit for the program (and give the admissions staff a sense of how good a fit you are).  If your program requires standardized testing, prepare for the test. That might mean a formal prep course, if you’re so inclined, but the key is to know what to expect—don’t go in cold. And, take the test well in advance of the deadline—early enough to allow you to retake it if necessary. Experience can make all the difference in being chosen. If you CAN get experience, get it. If you HAVE experience, make sure that your resume is complete, accurate, and demonstrative of your work.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Gary Alan Miller,
Executive Director

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