The graduate school application process is a defining moment for many aspiring scholars. Approached properly, graduate school can be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.
Fine Tune Your Interests
The mindset for applying to graduate school is very different from that for applying to college. The whole concept of “best fit” gets recast in a different light: what Masters or PhD program is best aligned with your academic interests and career goals? Graduate school admissions is a very different beast from its undergraduate counterpart. No longer is your application pored over by readers from the Office of Admissions. Instead, your application is read by faculty from the program to which you are applying. It is vitally important that you research the programs and that connections be made with the departments under consideration.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of books have been written on how to get into the college of your dreams. The book showing you how to get into the graduate program of your dreams has yet to be written. While there is no secret recipe for putting together a successful application package, I will advise you on numerous simple and practical, yet seldomly taken, steps that will put you at a distinct advantage.
The application process should start about 15 months before you plan to attend graduate school. Graduate school deadlines typically are in early Winter, so if it is your intention to enter graduate school in Fall 2015 the ideal time to start the application process would be Summer 2014.
Over the course of several months we’ll discuss –
What is graduate school? What it isn’t. What you’ll need to get in. Who is your audience? An overview of the application process and trends in graduate school. Who evaluates your application?
Why do you feel that you are a good candidate for graduate school? What are your academic interests and long-term goals? What kind of degree are you considering? A series of four questionnaires will help us get acquainted and flesh out answers to these questions.
Good graduate admissions advice cannot take place in a vacuum. Part of our dialog will include highlighting possible career paths and Do What You Are®, a Jungian-based career inventory. If you are considering a PhD, what are to odds of landing a tenure-track position? What aew employment trends?
- Which path is better suited to your academic and career goals? What is the time commitment?
- Masters degree – Coursework or research option? Online? One year (accelerated) or two? Full- or part-time? Masters programs nearly always offer some sort of option and you will have to choose from them.
- PhD – Discuss timeline and milestones. Research and evaluate programs – A successful application requires a good deal of investigation into programs, course offerings and faculty. This is one of the most important, but most attention-starved, steps.
A dialog with faculty and/or department chairs is a important component to the process and crucial for a PhD applicant.
What programs should be on your list? How many?
Similarly, your present professors and advisors need to be groomed well in advance for letters of reference.
How to create a concise, relevant and powerful CV/resume?Cover letter – Should you write one? What should be the content?
How should it be approached? This is the main element to your application – it has to immediately catch the eye of the reader. Be prepared for five or more iterations.
Often used as by the committee to supplement the Statement of Purpose and to learn more about you as a person.
What are my options for funding my education? Which one is best for me?
If you are accepted to more than one program which one do you choose?
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