It’s the beginning of a new academic year, which means it’s time to start making plans for next year, as the most dedicated students know. The top US colleges are notoriously selective, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. But while future undergrads can find a great deal of information on the web to ease the pain, college seniors interested in graduate school often find themselves in a precarious position. Luckily, we have identified some of the best (and worst) strategies for hopeful graduate students.
1. Make a good first impression.
With the number of applicants increasing every year, grad schools are often forced to make snap decisions about students based on first impressions. Sadly, many students present themselves in a manner that’s less than professional. Colleges typically demand quality writing from all students, and will be turned off by any slang, typos, poor grammar, and other abuses of language found in your admission materials. The personal statement is arguably the most important of these materials, demonstrating the skills and experiences that you’ve acquired during your years as an undergrad. Nonetheless, admission boards often receive personal statements that are just too… personal. A professor in a graduate psychology program complained of students describing histories of mental illness and psychotic behavior, which presumably influenced their decision to study psychology: “Graduate school is an academic/career path, not a personal treatment or intervention for problems.2” Less expected was one student’s confession that he/she had “performed in pornographic movies” – which was not received well, either.CollegeDegrees360.com
2. Be humble!Just as often, students present themselves toopositively, coming across as naïve, overly idealistic, or even arrogant and conceited. Statements like “I chose this field because I want to make the world a better place,” or “My only goal in life is to make people happy,” certainly sound nice, but say little about your skills as a student. Professors want specific examples of your strengths as a student or researcher, not “a long saga about how the student had finished [school] over incredible odds. Much better to have a reference allude to this.” Which brings us to our next point…
3. Know your references.
Grad schools may value independence and self-motivation in students, but even the most brilliant loners need someone on their side; a letter of recommendation from a leading professor or researcher in your field is an invaluable asset. In ...
Did you enjoy this article?
Get Free Updates