As you consider graduate study and begin the process of developing your application be sure to check admission and application requirements carefully. For example, some programs may require work or specific research experience and other programs like architecture or fine arts may require a portfolio.
Below are some general guidelines for preparing your application:
Be sure you give yourself enough time to prepare for a standardized test. Both the GRE and GMAT are now administered through computer adaptive testing. The following websites will provide you will specific information on test dates and content of testing materials. Scores are generally valid for five years with the exception of the LSAT (3 years). If you are sure you will be applying for a graduate degree in the near future, you may want to consider taking the standardized test in your Senior year. This way you will have part of the application process completed. You should take summer or early fall tests if you plan to apply to graduate school in the upcoming year.
Most graduate programs require three letters of recommendation but be sure to check each schools application requirements. Many grad programs require at least one faculty letter of recommendationwith most doctoral programs requiring 3 faculty letters. Don't leave the university without one letter of recommendation from a professor in your credential file. Stop at the reception desk at the CDO to open a credential file. You may also want to consult with a counselor at the CDO for more information on reference letters and policies and procedures for requesting letters of recommendation.
When you ask a professor or employer to write you a letter of recommendation, furnish them with information; a transcript, an example of your class work will enable a professor to write a more substantial letter. In similar fashion, outline any accomplishments, work projects or promotions for an employer you have asked to write your recommendation.
You can arrange to have your transcript sent to graduate schools through the registrar's office by mail, or in person. If you took classes at other institutions or studied abroad you will need to contact these programs to request an official transcript be sent to your graduate schools.
Office of Registrar:
Applicants to graduate school often disregard the importance of essays in the admission process. The manner in which you express your experience and portray your motivations in an essay can have a major impact on the final outcome. Budget a substantial amount of time to writing your essays. Some graduate programs such as business school or psychology require more than one essay. A CDO counselor can help you with essay content and critique your essays.
Be sure to include a current and well organized resume or CV in your application. While you have an opportunity to discuss your experience, academic background and career goals in your essays, the resume or CV helps the admissions committee to easily review and summarize your experience.
Some graduate schools require or offer an optional interview. Similar to a job interview, an admissions interview gives you the chance to highlight your accomplishments, skills and abilities, strengths and personal qualities. There is nothing mysterious about the interview; just be yourself and be prepared to about your work experience or research, academic interests, future goals and why you want to pursue graduate or professional school. It also wise to research the program prior to an interview, so that you are clear on why you wish to pursue the degree and how this specific program fits your goals.
While application deadlines for many graduate and professional schoolsfall between January and March, some programs such as Law and Business have rolling admission policy. This means that they will begin to review applications early on and begin to make decisions even before the official deadline. Be sure to read each school's information regarding deadlines and rolling admissions. You are always at slight advantage if you apply at least a month before the deadline or earlier.
The best way to improve your chances of admission to graduate or professional school is to prepare your application 6 months to a year in advance. Know what the requirements are now and thoughtfully review where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Talk to graduate students and people who have earned the degree to assess whether this is the path you want to take. As you look at different programs consider size, geographic area, accessibility to faculty, resources, internship/field work and full time opportunities and the overall learning environment.
Take advantage of the counseling and advising resources at the CDO. A counselor is available to help you locate resources for researching programs and counsel you on any part of the application process. If you are pursuing a Ph.D. it is extremely important to discuss to discuss your goals with your professors. Besides writing letters of recommendation, faculty can provide additional advice on how to present your academic interests and research plans in your application.