"What tips would you offer to prospective students when preparing their applications?"
"I think that prospective students should make a personal call when they have questions about any part of the application process. If there is a toll free number or email address to use, take advantage of them. Personal contact with someone during the application process is a good way to get the answers you need while opening a door that can be helpful time after time throughout the graduate experience. There is no substitute for that."
Martin Tadlock, Dean
College of Professional and Graduate Studies
Bemidji State University
"If you are sending the application electronically, print a paper copy after you have completed the application and carefully review all of your responses. In the enthusiasm of completing the application, errors can occur that affect the timing of a response that you receive from the university. Verify your data and make sure all fields are completed correctly."
John F. Smith, Executive Director
Office of Enrollment Services
University of Houston-Clear Lake
"Take the GRE/GMAT or required entrance test as early as possible to avoid a delay in processing your application. Not only can a decision be rendered more quickly, but many schools now offer graduate scholarships directly related to performance on your standardized test."
Dave Fletcher, Director of Graduate Admissions
"It is very important that your personal statement reflect why you are interested in the specific program to which you applying. Do your homework when selecting a program. Know the faculty's research interests, read their publications and mention them wherever possible in the statement. This reflects that you are serious about this program, and see it as propitious to your educational and professional future. You may have high test scores, a fantastic GPA, come from an Ivy League institution and not be admitted if your research and/or professional objectives do not mesh with what the program has to offer."
Greg Canada, Director of Admissions
California Institute of Integral Studies
"One of the most important parts of the graduate school application is the statement of interest. Assuming that grades and test scores meet the standards required by a graduate department, the statement of interest is often the difference between a positive or negative admission decision. Faculty are looking for students who write well and will not have difficulty completing requirements. Faculty are also looking for students whose academic and professional goals "fit" what the department or program can provide. The statement should include what topical areas the students intends to pursue, perhaps something about the research or creative activity in which the student would like to engage while in graduate school, what professional or career goals the student has and why the student believes the particular graduate program to which he/she is applying will best meet academic and career goals.
I would also advise prospective graduate students not to be discouraged if a particular program does not admit them. Often it is not a negative reflection on their undergraduate preparation or their ability to be successful in graduate school, but reflects the faculty's perception that their program is not the best "fit" for a given student and will not meet their needs."
Donna E. Schafer, Dean
Research and Graduate Studies
Humboldt State University
"It's very important that students take some time to thoroughly read the application from start to finish. Understand exactly what information is required and when the application deadlines are. I advise students to review the application, put it down for a few hours or a day and come back to it so they can digest everything that's needed. If you are applying to an overseas or international graduate school applying early is even more important. Lead times for submitting applications and applying for financial aid are longer; the admissions decision takes longer on the part of the university; scholarships require more research on your part and you'll need to get a student visa, health insurance, arrange housing and an airline ticket for the country you'll be studying in."
Steve Luther, Associate Director, Full Degree Programs
AustraLearn: North American Center for Australian Universities
"When preparing your application materials, plan early, request early and submit early—especially those materials you cannot directly control, such as transcripts, test results and letters of recommendation. Request your letters of recommendation at least six weeks before you need them, and make sure that those from whom you wish a recommendation are available, willing and qualified to recommend you. Submit your application materials four weeks before the deadline and check with the admissions office to ensure that they arrived. This will give you ample time to inquire about any missing materials or resolve any oversights."
Vahid Lotfi, Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Programs
University of Michigan-Flint
"While qualifications are the basis of the admission decision, neatness and organization make a first impression. Be sure your application materials are well organized, complete and neatly prepared-type when possible."
Dr. Edith Raleigh, Professor and Dean
"Be timely-sending in an application at the last minute forces an applicant to rush through what ought to be a thoughtful process. Make sure all of your financial aid documentation is in early too."
Gia Garcia Taylor, Admissions Representative
1. Read over the application very carefully and be sure to follow the directions. If the essay is supposed to be between 500-750 words, then you need to make sure you stay within those guidelines.
2. Proofread! Proofread! And then ask someone else to read your essay aloud to you exactly as you wrote it - see if you are still happy with how it sounds.
3. Apply early.
4. Type the application, but if you cannot, then be sure to use neat and legible handwriting.
5. Read all admissions literature for answers to your questions, but if you cannot find them, or feel you need clarification, do not hesitate to call the Admissions Office with your questions.
6. There are some excellent websites dedicated to guiding students through the graduate admissions process. Visit them as well as use reference materials that have been written for this purpose. They are filled with excellent advice!
Debbie Jacobs, Director of Admissions
Argosy University/Washington, DC
* Be organized as you begin the application process.
* Make an outline of the school's application requirements, including deadlines. Set deadlines for yourself that are well in advance of the school's deadlines so that unexpected delays will not be detrimental.
* Know the pre-requisite courses needed for the program in which you are applying.
* Take required graduate entrance exams as early as possible.
* Request transcripts be sent.
* Write a resume. Give to friends and family for their thoughts. This will help you as you begin to write your personal statement.
* Provide this same resume to those whom you are asking to write a recommendation on your behalf. Be sure to send the resume with a personal letter in which you reference the positive interactions you've had with this person.
* When requesting letters of recommendation, ALWAYS make sure your evaluator is comfortable writing the letter.
* Personal statements MUST be of required length and FREE of grammatical errors.
* Submit financial aid application concurrently with graduate application to assure that you will receive the financial aid funding in a timely manner.
* Know the status of your application by communicating with the school's admissions office.
Doris Vander Wiele, Director of Admissions
"When you prepare your personal goals statement, be very careful of your writing. Good grammar, proper sentence structure and clarity of thought are essential. Graduate school requires a great deal of writing. If the admissions committee has doubts about your ability to perform, it may affect their decision to admit you."
Linda Volz, Director of Admissions
"Take your time to make sure what you are submitting is exactly how you want to represent yourself as a perspective student"
Ashley Delaney, Director of Admissions