Common Mistakes While Applying For Grad School

Got a score as per your expectations? Kudos! But have you thought about the next big step?

Quite simply, applying to a Grad school requires identification of your interests, strengths and weaknesses and a little dose of discipline. Here are some of the points to keep in mind while applying to a university.

Managing risk of missing out: All of us want to be admitted to a top-ranking university. However, an applicant needs to be realistic and hedge the risk of not landing in the best university. The first step in deciding which university to apply is to create a list of universities that you offer the programs you are interested in. The second step is to research about the admission criteria in past few years and divvying up the universities in 3 buckets of Ambitious, Achievable, and Risk averse. My recommendation is to have your applications as 40% -Ambitious, 40% – Achievable, and 20% – Risk Averse.

Deciding what’s right for YOU: Applicants often do not realize that interest and background of every individual is different and commonly decide based on other’s opinion. The importance of finding the most suited program for your career cannot be understated. Often times, applicants may find programs with different names across universities having similar course work. In such cases, your research about the courses, comparative analysis and reaching out to current students or alumni of those programs will help. Mentors from PrepForGradSchool can be a great resource as well.

Tailoring your statement of purpose: Having a good statement of purpose is the key to reach the next round of Grad admissions. The three mistakes applicants commonly make are:

  • Copying sentences from internet

  • Writing false pretenses

  • Using same SOP for all programs

Applicants should avoid making story around key words and instead focus on their key skills, and traits that are requisite to the program. Write applications in your own words, however, there is no harm in reviewing them from experts.

Temptation of grandeur: Many applications have questions requiring you to write about how you displayed certain personality traits at work. Be honest and write it in STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) format. STAR format will streamline your thoughts while making it easier for a reader to understand the impact of your actions.

Your words matter: Be careful about the choice of words in your application. Try humble bragging. Double check your application for grammatical errors and also avoid verbose sentences. Reviewing your application from an expert should help in weeding them out.

Fatal sins of application: Last but not the least, keep track of deadlines. Universities are quite strict with their policies. Keep buffer time for completing and reviewing application. Incomplete applications will not be entertained by universities, so ensure attaching all the required documents. Reach out to the admissions office in case you have some questions, they would be happy to help you. In closing, put your best foot forward while completing your Masters applications. Remember to breathe, it is just one step towards your goal.

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