Grad School Admission Tips

  • Start the Process Early
  • Research Appropriate Schools
  • Prepare a Personal Statement
  • Get Strong Recommendations
  • Score Well on the Examination

Obtaining an advanced degree is generally a good career strategy. A postgraduate degree can provide personal growth, more employment opportunities and greater recognition. After deciding that attending graduate school is the best path for your future aspirations, use these tips to improve your prospect for successful admission into the program of your choice.

Start the Process Early

It is essential that you meet all applicable submission deadlines. Graduate school admission applications take considerable time to complete. In addition to the application, you need to gather recommendations and undergraduate school transcripts. You must schedule and pass the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) in time for the test scores to be included in your submission packet. Because these exams are challenging, ensure that you set aside sufficient time to study. You should also allocate time to double-check all your information to avoid any last minute errors that may cause you to miss the deadline.

Related: What is the Difference Between the GRE and the GMAT?

Research Appropriate Schools

Determine the course of study that best supports your long-term goals. You can begin the process by obtaining recommendations from postgraduate professionals working in your desired career field. This process will help you identify the schools that offer programs best suited for your education and career ambitions as well as your academic and professional strengths. Research the characteristics of the school and the surrounding community to find the best match for your lifestyle and study habits. Although you can obtain considerable information online, attend an open house to acquire relevant firsthand information from current graduate students, faculty and admissions staff.

Prepare a Personal Statement

Most graduate school applications require a personal statement. This is your opportunity to capture the admission staff’s attention and stand out from other applicants. The personal statement explains why you are a good fit by showing your specific accomplishments, adversities that you have overcome and how well you work as an individual and as a member of a group. The highlighted accomplishments can be from school, work, volunteer efforts or events in your personal life. Your school research will enable you to explain how your experience, abilities and goals will benefit that particular program’s mission, current research and academic environment.

Get Strong Recommendations

An undergraduate student planning to attend graduate school after graduation should ask their professors with whom they have a cordial relationship to write a compelling letter of recommendation. Individuals who have been out of school for several years may speak to professors with whom they have maintained a relationship. You can also ask your current or previous job supervisor for assistance. Other highly regarded options include managers, directors and administrators of any organizations for which you volunteer. Personal references can also help if the individual can speak to your abilities and write a convincing and persuasive statement on your behalf.

Score Well on the Examination

Make a comprehensive plan to study for the appropriate graduate school admissions examination. The score you receive may be the primary determinant for grants and other financial aid. The higher you score, the more likely you will be able to attend school free. Admissions officers regularly identify the exam score as one of the most significant factors in determining applicant selections. Top scorers often spend as much as 100 hours preparing for the exam. Take the exam again if you feel that your score is too low. A few points may determine whether you are selected over another prospective candidate.

A graduate degree can bring personal, career and financial rewards. Stay abreast of the tasks that you must complete so that you do not miss the opportunity to attend the school of your choice.