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What should you do if you don't get accepted to any of the colleges you want to attend for grad school?

I am looking at colleges that I want to attend for grad school and am wondering what I should do if I don't get accepted to any of my schools of choice? #career #graduate-school #graduate

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Gabriel’s Answer

Hi Mounia,

As someone who has gone through graduate school on 3 different occasions, I feel I can provide some unique insight into this. As you are exploring and applying to graduate school, it is important to keep in mind that you look at the admissions requirements you see are the "minimum" requirements. In short, you could meet or exceed every single minimum admissions requirement and still not get in.

The graduate admissions process is holistic which means that acceptance/denial is rarely ever about one singular issue. You could have an excellent GPA, very high GRE/GMAT scores, but the admissions committee may feel that your personal statement was lacking or that you need more professional experience. This is just one of many, many different possibilities.

With that said, what do you do if you don't get accepted? Here are a few options in no particular order:

1) Re-take the GRE/GMAT if required. Most schools will accept your most recent/highest score so if the test score appears to be a weakness, I would say re-take it and aim for a higher score.

2) Ask colleagues, friends, supervisors, etc. to review/critique any personal or other written statements that may be required for admission. When I applied to the University of Illinois, I had to revise my statement three times either because of a typo, run-on sentence, etc. Things I would not have identified if I didn't ask two people to review it for me.

3) See if the school offers the option to take classes as an "at large", "non-degree", or "visiting" graduate student. The school(s) you are interested may not provide this option, but if they do it's worth considering. This gives you the ability to take a limited number of graduate courses without being admitted into a degree program. You may then be able to take the one, two, or three classes as a way to demonstrate you have the competencies to be a graduate student and you then may be able to transfer those courses into a degree program if you re-apply and are admitted.

4) Explore volunteer opportunities. Many people I talk to tend to think of volunteering as picking up litter or visiting sick patients at a hospital or something along those lines, but the reality is that you can volunteer to do just about anything - marketing, teaching, accounting, you name it. I would encourage you to explore Volunteer Match is if this something you may be interested in:

Please continue to ask questions on this forum and best of luck!

Thank you comment icon Gabriel, thank you very much! This is very helpful! Mounia
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Tamara’s Answer

Hello Mounia,

Try exploring internships and/or taking a few more courses in your desired field of study to strengthen your knowledge base, abilities, and skills in that area if necessary.

Also, apply to more schools. Try applying to at least 10 schools to increase the chance of acceptance.

Last, try contacting the university or college as well as the department you desire to enter to ascertain the qualities they appreciate in an applicant.

Good luck!