Making Yourself a Competitive Graduate School Applicant
If you're considering pursuing a graduate degree, there are several steps you can take to make yourself a competitive applicant. In this guide, we'll cover the key areas you should focus on, including gaining experience, researching graduate school programs, and preparing for standardized tests.
To increase your chances of being accepted into a graduate program, it's important to demonstrate academic excellence in your field of study and gain relevant experiences. Consider participating in work, internship, volunteer, or research opportunities to build your skills and knowledge. Throughout college, reflect on your career interests and whether a graduate degree can help you achieve your future goals. Don't give up on maintaining or improving your GPA, and get involved in extracurricular activities at your institution. Bring your working resume to the career center for review, and take advantage of summer months to gain diverse experiences that interest and develop you personally and professionally.
Researching Graduate School Programs
Researching programs is a critical step in the application process. You can use websites like gradschools.com
, The Princeton Review
, or Petersons.com
to search for programs in your field. Ask your professors and mentors for advice on programs, and develop a list of programs that interest you. Be sure to visit the university departmental websites to record relevant information, such as application deadlines, required materials, test score expectations, and program contact information. Read program mission statements to identify program values and goals, and consider scheduling campus visits to gather further information.
Once you have a list of programs, consider which programs align best with your values and goals. Develop a ranking system to identify your top choices, and think critically about the faculty members and their mentoring styles. Does their research interest you? Can you see yourself working productively with them? Consider the characteristics you are looking for in a graduate program, such as geographical location or research focus. If you receive an acceptance from a program, ask yourself if you would seriously consider attending that school.
Preparing for Standardized Tests
To apply to most graduate programs, you may be required to take standardized tests like the GRE or GMAT. The GRE is often compared to the SAT and offers subject tests in specific fields, while the GMAT is typically required for business-oriented programs. Be aware that certain standardized tests are only offered a few times throughout the year, and seating may be limited. Scores achieved on the GRE or GMAT are valid for five years. Visit the ETS website
for more information on the GRE or GMAT, including test structure and registration. Remember, only take the test if it is required by the program to which you are applying.
By following these steps, you can make yourself a competitive applicant for graduate school. Don't forget to take advantage of the resources available to you, including your professors, mentors, and the career center. With preparation and dedication, you can successfully navigate the graduate school application process and take the next step in your academic and professional journey.