‘Tis the season. Not Christmas, though I wish! Instead, it’s time to prep those graduate school applications. You might be reviewing programs and requirements and making final decisions for applications, so here are a few tips from #scholarmami!
After reviewing numerous master’s and doctoral applications over the years, please consider the following:
- Make Your Presence/Interest Known – Many programs host open houses or interest days. While these programs may be virtual now, it is an opportunity for you to get first-hand knowledge about your graduate program of interest. Also, by attending these events, faculty can begin to put a name with a face and begin to get to know you and your interests. If you are unable to attend a prescheduled event, then watch the video and reach out to a faculty member or recruitment team member with any questions.
- Required Materials – Most programs will requite a resume/CV, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. This year, many graduate programs are going GRE/test optional. Be familiar with the requirements for your program of interest and plan ahead. Give yourself time to finalize your personal statement and format your resume/CV. Finally, don’t sell yourself short on your resume/CV! Be sure to include all of your professional and community work and presentations. Highlight your grants and/or fellowships with dollar amounts. Include awards you have received – or been nominated!
- Letters of Recommendation – Letters of recommendation provide an outside perspective on your accomplishments and goals. If possible, make sure one of your recommenders is a current/former faculty member who can speak to your academic abilities. Also, be sure to give your recommenders optimal time to write a quality letter. In other words, try to avoid a last minute “ask” if you can! It also helps to send your current resume/CV to your recommenders so they can include your latest accomplishments.
- Application fees – Fees vary by program, so be sure to research what is required. Sometimes the graduate school and the program require fees to apply. Be sure to include these items in your application budget! In addition, there may be fee waivers. Ask around to see if any of these fees can be dropped!
- Personal Statement – First, be sure to follow directions. Succinctly include all the items requested in a personal statement. If you omit long-term goals, for example, it makes it difficult for the admissions committee to determine how their program aligns with your professional interests. Second, watch for formatting. If your program follows APA guidelines, then you should use them. Follow the formatting guidelines for your field. Third, particularly for doctoral students, identify and describe how your research interests align with the faculty and their areas of expertise. Share what you hope to gain and contribute to a community of (emerging) scholars in the program.
You can do this, Mamis! We need you and your knowledge and expertise in these spaces. If we can be of assistance as you gather and finalize your materials, please feel free to reach out to us. We’ve been there, and we are happy to help you achieve your goals. Please comment below or contact us with any questions!