Getting into graduate school: The application


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Completing the actual application for graduate school. Delivered during my tenure at Syracuse University.

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  • Discuss the admissions cycle and what early decision means and the benefits of it. Typical deadlines of November, January, February and April. Be organized and create deadlines for yourself. If you are a senior, it will likely need to be an abridged version (perhaps even accelerated).
  • For many, including my experience, some of the most common errors or things that can be prevented in preparing an application are: Not completing the information correctly, or putting information in the wrong area Filling out information that does not pertain to your application (i.e. common applications with multiple questions) Inconsistencies with what is reported on the application vs. what is on your resume, etc.
  • Always ask each school you are applying to whether or not they require all transcripts. If you transferred, sometimes all that is shown is a “T” and the grades are not visible.
  • Most important thing is giving yourself enough time to prepare.
  • Approach Faculty that you have taken numerous classes with and have gotten to know you from an academic standpoint, but also could discuss your character. Make a list of those you want to consider. If professional reference, it is the best idea to choose someone that may be from the field you wish to go in. If not, they should be able to speak to things such as the ability to read and integrate information, draw conclusions, lead others, or carry out complex tasks in a timely and competent fashion.You should, when possible, schedule an appointment of who you want to ask in person. If not, schedule a phone interview. Don’t simply email them. Be prepared to discuss your goals/reason in going to graduate school, and have your resume/unofficial transcripts with you. Ask, “Would you be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation for my application.” What to provide: 1. A cover letter that includes information on how to get a hold of you, what you would like emphasized in the letter, a list of schools you are applying with due dates, any other info that is relevant, and thank you. 2. Recommendation forms (if not online), 3. unofficial transcripts, a draft of your statement of purpose, a copy of your best work in that particular course, your resume, and stamped/addressed envelopes to send letters and forms to. Also a good idea to share pertinent information about the programs.
  • What is it: A chance to demonstrate your unique qualifications for and commitment to your chosen field. How? Discuss experiences, people, and events that inspire you to pursue it.Determine the Content: Answer any questions fully. Typically, a committee is looking for the following in the content of your essay: Purpose of graduate study, area you wish to specialize in, the intended future use of your graduate study, unique preparation and fitness for study in the field, problems or inconsistencies in your records or scores, special conditions that are not revealed elsewhere in the application, why the school, information about you as a person.Approach: View paper with Do’s and Don’ts on document reader.Video:
  • Main difference between this, or applying for a job is that the emphasis is on academic accomplishments. Sections to consider: Education, Professional experience, research, conference presentations or publications, awards, extracurricular, community, professional memberships, special skills and anything specific functionally/transferable.When preparing your resume, think about things that showcase your academic/intellectual ability, teamwork experience, leadership abilities, and general things that would showcase your character and ability to integrate in that school’s culture. Schools look for a variety of experiences when building a class not only for the culture of the community of that program, but also how they may learn from each student.
  • The interview permits the schools to determine if your personal attributes are as appealing as your academic record and if your personal attributes will enable you to overcome any deficiency that may appear; If your personal attributes will put you in the acceptable range (if you are borderline admit); If you are considered to have some obvious academic deficiencies if they feel you will be able to overcome those.Four Main purposes: Public Relations Mechanism, An Opportunity for the school’s representative to answer questions for the candidate, to recruit the student, data gathering. Three of the four of these center on meetings the student’s needs. So, relax, do your best and have fun!The interview permits you to: Have the opportunity to sell yourself and overcome any deficiencies in your application; Familiarize yourself with the campus, its facilities, and with the members of its student body; Obtain first hand answers to questions about the school that may not yet have been answered.The interview is not a one-sided affair. It is important that you have engaging questions and dialogue for them as well!
  • Other descriptive include support persons, work exposure, social awareness, caring/compassion and conscientiousness.
  • Value System: How interested is the student in others? What does the track record indicate? Do the student’s goals express wanting to serve others? Interviewers will attempt to determine your degree of courage to persevere during difficult times.Interpersonal Relationships: Good graduate students make friends easily and enjoy positive interactions with others. They can work independently and collaboratively. They value the contributions of others, and are sensitive to the needs of others and will take others into account in their actions.Knowledge Based Skills: Good graduate students enjoy solving problems and have good aptitude for it. Discipline and order are key prerequisites to success in graduate school. Graduate students must have integrity to know when to speak up. Can you handle the rigors of a program? Can you prioritize? Can we assure you will succeed?
  • Examples of trouble spot questions: - If you were enrolled in low credit hours, if you received low grades, were there extenuating circumstances, how have you done in overall vs. major courses, when asked about a difficult course from your academic program, can you provide evidence of resourcefulness in the face of adversity? Any discrepancy in your grades vs. GMAT score? What accounts for this? How would you answer such questions?Meetings during a campus visit are not necessarily going to affect the admissions decision. Actual interviews after you apply do. You could always ask, but don’t underestimate when you meet with current graduate students the potential impact that can have as well. Do your homework!Low GPA QuestionIf you address the topic and express yourself well it can allay concerns that arise because of your GPA. Your essay may also offer you the opportunity to provide context for your GPA, for example, if extenuating circumstances harmed your academic performance during one semester. Beware of griping about your GPA or attempting to explain four years of poor performance. Keep all explanations concise and don't draw attention away from the central point of your essay. Standardized Test – Measures AptitudeRecommendations – Can Trump GPA
  • – ehow humorous – Walk me through your resume
  • *If you feel that your application may be a bit weaker than you would like, you could also take a pro—active approach and ask to be interviewed before they do. Some schools may not require this a part of their admission’s process, and without it your application may not come across how it would if you were there.**Evaluating offers of admission is a taxing process depending on how many schools you apply to. Be sure to meet with a career counselor or someone you trust to determine what are most important elements in your decision and making the decision.
  • Getting into graduate school: The application

    1. 1. Graduate SchoolAdmissions: 101(Part II)Completing theapplication
    2. 2. Discussion Points“Decision made: Completing the application” • Review: Before you complete the application • Application Process: – Getting it together – Creating a Timeline – The application – Standardized Tests – Transcripts – Essays or “Statements of Purpose” – Your Resume – Letters of Recommendation – Graduate School Interview
    3. 3. Review: Is graduate school rightfor me?• Spending self-reflection time determining which program/career area you wish to enter• Completing workshops comparing schools, identifying affinity schools, and becoming the whole package• Identifying preventable measures in an application
    4. 4. The Application Timeline• Typical Admissions Cycle - Review• Create a spreadsheet/document with all required pieces for all programs you plan to apply to (calendar)• Identify established deadlines and create deadlines for yourself for self-submitted components
    5. 5.
    6. 6. The Application Timeline You may want to add a row/column to establish your own deadlines for other items you will be working on. Use handout as a guide. Re-create something that allows you to put in the requirements related strictly to your applications.
    7. 7. The Application• Print out multiple copies and read through everything being asked• Be specific and ask questions if you do not understand what is being asked.• Online application – benefits and other considerations
    8. 8. Transcripts• Request Transcripts from all schools you have attended• If you have completed your degree, or when you complete your degree, ensure your transcript will have your degree conferred on it• Check for policies about transfer credits
    9. 9. The GMAT/GRE/LSAT Exam• Give yourself a deadline – integrate it into your master schedule• Websites: – GMAT ( – GRE (• Buy a book with a CD or online access to full length exams• Attend a prep course or get a tutor if it is within your means• Practice!
    10. 10. Letters of Recommendation• Who will you approach? Who will you consider?• How do you ask? When should you ask?• What can I provide the writer to ensure a strong letter?
    11. 11. Letters of Recommendation• Do Not – Push for a positive response – Wait until the last minute to ask – Have bad timing – Wait to provide supporting documentation – Provide information piecemeal – Rush your recommender (how much time should you provide?) – Provide messy, unorganized documents – Forget to write a thank you note or card – Forget to tell faculty about the status of your application
    12. 12. Essays/Statement of Purpose• What is it?• Key lies in detail, specificity and concrete examples: Distinctive and Interesting• Determine the Content• Determine your approach and style• Look at samples (statement of – Always have proofreaders• Review “do” and “do not” list
    13. 13. Graduate School Resume• What are some main differences you would identify between graduate school or applying for a job?• Tailor your resume with work experience and school activities relevant to what you plan to study• What are some examples of things you might focus on when preparing your resume?
    14. 14. The Graduate School Interview• Congratulations!• The Interview will permit the school to determine personality and capability – Interviews serve four main purposes• The Interview permits you to…
    15. 15. The Graduate School Interview• What will they be looking for? – Communication Skills – Motivation – Maturity – Interests – Emotional Stability – Intellectual Potential – Fit with stated career goals, objectives, etc. – Demonstration of reasons you are applying
    16. 16. The Graduate School Interview• Guideposts of a “Good Graduate Student” – Value System – Interpersonal Relationships – Knowledge Based Skills• Remember, its academic characteristics as well as personal
    17. 17. Graduate School Interview• In preparing, try to do the following – Review your own records. Can you identify trouble spots? – Review sample questions, prepare responses – Identify examples, list strengths, etc. – Visit your career center or visit with me to further discuss your specific situation – Job Interview skills, etc. apply here!
    18. 18. The Interview – Mock Example• Let’s watch a few examples• – MBA/MS Admissions Interview Examples• Mock Interview
    19. 19. Preparing your application summary1. Create a timeline, identify all requirements for the schools you are applying2. Standardized Test (GMAT) – Research and pick a date3. Begin drafting your essays
    20. 20. Preparing your application summary4. Work on preparing your resume for the application5. Ask for recommendations6. Fill out the application form7. Request Official Transcripts8. Put it all together to submit9. Take the GMAT
    21. 21. Preparing your application summary10. Submit your Application!11. Wait for a response or invitation to interview*12. Interview for schools as appropriate13. Follow up with thank you communication14. Evaluating Offers/Enrolling in school**