Application Insider: Edition #8
General Tips on Increasing Your Chances of Admission
Graduate school is very competitive. Many universities, including Carleton, receive hundreds of applications for the same program(s) each year. Although admission into a graduate program is never a guarantee, there are some things you can do that may increase your chances of success.
First, make sure you meet all of the application requirements before you apply to a program. These are generally listed on the website of the department offering the program. In addition, you can talk with representatives of the program and check the program website to ensure you have a clear idea of what would make an ideal applicant.
Admission committees will look at your grades, but determining a graduate school application has more to do with an overall fit with the program. This is why universities ask for a number of supplementary forms and required documents – it allows the committee to assess a student’s potential to do well in the specific graduate program.
To quote Dr. Tara Kuther, who writes the blog gradschool.about.com: “The ideal graduate student is gifted, eager to learn, and highly motivated. He or she can work independently and take direction, supervision, and constructive criticism without becoming upset or overly sensitive. Faculty look for students who are hard workers, want to work closely with faculty, are responsible and easy to work with, and who are a good fit to the program. The best graduate students complete the program on time, with distinction – and excel in the professional world to make graduate faculty proud. Of course, these are ideals. Most graduate students have some of these characteristics, but nearly no one will have all, so don’t fear.”
Writing a strong Statement of Intent is crucial, as well as getting good Letters of Reference.
Make sure you tailor your application to match what a particular graduate program is looking for. Faculty will be looking for applicants who make it clear why they would be a good fit for their specific program(s).
You also may want to ask others to critique your application package. A simple thing like a grammatical or spelling error can knock you out of the running. However, Kuther suggests that sharing too much, making inappropriate excuses, and being too informal can also cost you.
Apply early. If you are an international student, you will want to start the application process 5-6 months in advance of when you plan to begin your studies. Carleton provides specific information for international students on our website.
Finally, make sure you don’t miss a program application deadline. This is the deadline by which we need your complete application including all supplementary forms and required documents. For more information regarding deadlines, please visit our deadlines website.
Application Insider provides prospective students with a series of tips on how to apply to graduate school. The series is based on Carleton’s application policies, but the information can be useful in all graduate school applications. You can view the complete series here.
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