The Application Process
The decision to attend graduate school requires serious consideration. The time, money and energy you will expend in graduate school are significant, so analyze your options carefully! Before you begin the application process, evaluate your interests and goals and research what programs are available to you. Be honest with yourself about your reasons for pursuing a graduate degree.
The actual application process usually begins six months to one year before enrolling in graduate school, although this may vary with each program.
- Deadlines: Find out the application deadline of each institution in which you are interested and allow enough preparation time to meet that date. Departments within an institution vary greatly in admissions deadlines because of the number of applications received and the number of spaces available. Check the application date for the specific department in which you wish to enroll. Plan to have your materials submitted well in advance.
- Admissions Tests: Make sure the required graduate admissions tests (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, DAT) are taken in time for the scores to be reported before the school's deadline.
- Transcripts: Make sure to allow time for transcripts from your undergraduate work to be received for consideration.
- Letters of Recommendation: Give your instructors plenty of time to write your letters of recommendation.
- Application Fees: Most institutions require a nonrefundable application fee and will not consider an application without it.
One of the first things you'll need to do before applying to graduate school is to determine which entrance exam(s) you will need to take. Each program you apply to will explain exactly what test(s) are required, but generally, most graduate programs will require you to take the General Record Examination, commonly referred to as the GRE. Depending on what program you apply to, you may be asked to take a GRE subject test. Law schools will require you to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Medical Schools will require the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Most MBA programs will require you to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
No matter which test you have to take, it is a good idea to seriously prepare for it, as the cost to take each test ranges between $96-$200.
Admission Committees will use your entrance exam score to gauge where you fall in the range of the other applicants. The score is important because often, it is the only objective data that can be used to compare applicants.
For further information or to register for any of the graduate/professional school exams, click on the appropriate link or stop by our office.
GMAT: www.mba.com OR www.testprepreview.com/gmat_practice.htm
MCAT: www.aamc.org/mcat OR www.testprepreview.com/mcat_practice.htm
Most graduate school applications require a personal statement regarding your interest and/or qualifications to pursue a graduate degree. The personal statement is your opportunity to demonstrate who you are and why you deserve to be admitted to graduate school. Take time and give serious thought to the subject before you begin writing your essay. Be sure to edit for content, grammar, and punctuation. It is helpful to have others read your rough draft and offer suggestions. Revisit your draft several times before making your final draft. Things you may wish to include in your personal essay are:
- Personal background
- Educational background
- Work experience
- Special skills & abilities
- What you can offer to the graduate program
- What are you looking for in a graduate program
- Why you want to attend this particular program
- Your research interests
- Your career goals
All graduate programs will require letters of recommendation. Most programs will request three letters. Choose faculty members who are able to assess your intellectual ability, motivation, and readiness to perform at the graduate level. Letters written by nonacademic professionals, such as supervisors and other professionals in the field, may be acceptable for some programs; however, you should check with the graduate program's coordinator before submitting this type of recommendation letter.
- When requesting a letter of recommendation you should ask the person if he or she can provide you with a positive/strong letter of recommendation.
- Allow ample time for the person to write the letter (at least two weeks).
- Provide the writer with a copy of your resume.
- If your letter writer has to mail the letter, provide him or her with a pre-addressed stamped envelope.
- Follow up with the writer a few days before the letter is due to confirm that the letter has been sent.
- Send your letter writer a Thank You note. This shows the writer that you appreciate the time he or she spent and your relationship.