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When considering grad school, what makes an application stand out?

Asked Harrisonburg, Virginia

For a grad applicant, what are some things that the programs prefer on a resume and how do I present myself in a way that will give me a leg up? #graduate-school #school

1 answer

Tammie’s Answer

Updated Cary, North Carolina

Hannah:


It is great to hear you are considering graduate school and that you are thinking about what might make your application memorable. 


There are several great articles with important suggestions to separate your application from the rest.  Many common themes (other than grades/GRE test scores) are:

+ Start the process early to allow yourself enough time to write a quality essay and provide the schools with all of the information they are requesting

+ In the essay, make a compelling personal statement to market yourself to the school administrators

+ Have clear career aspirations and explain how their program fits in with your pursuits

+ Choose good references and provide your references with information that they may be able to use about you to provide a substantive letter


There are a few helpful questions on http://blog.gradschoolmatch.com/memorable-candidate-grad-school/ which might help to guide you when writing your essay:

  1. What about your background (educational or professional experience) has prepared you for an advanced degree in this field?
  2. Why are you interested in pursuing further education in this field?
  3. What do you intend to get out of graduate schools and how does that relate to your future career aspirations? How does this particular program fit into that vision?
  4. Why are you specifically interested in this program out of all of those in the same field? Which of the program’s strengths lend themselves well to your goals? Which professors or courses particularly interested you?
  5. Why is now the right time for you to pursue a graduate degree?
  6. What is it that you (and only you) can bring to the program?


When I went to visit graduate schools that accepted me into their programs, I was repeatedly told what helped me the most were my reference letters so don't underestimate their importance!


I wish you the best with your future academic endeavors!


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