5 Ways to Improve your Graduate School Application


First four years officially done. Boom. Check and mate. Gnarly, rad, sick, turn up, (insert new phrase kids are saying nowadays). Man, what an experience undergrad was too. For some it’s studying hard every day and finally seeing your goals in life come closer and closer to completion, and for others it’s the time of your life mixed with making friends and inebriation. But hey, no judge what road you travel down. We all pay our money to go to college so you should make your experience one you will be proud of. After undergrad though all of us are faced with the same decision which is whether we continue our education and go on to a graduate or professional school, or if we start looking for a job and join the working world.


Taking the graduate and professional school road is one that requires hard work in undergrad years by maintaining a good GPA and getting high scores on entrance exams into your program. While yes, it is important to get these good grades and high scores do not think that if yours are not as high as others your chances of continuing your education are little to none. There are plenty of other ways to make your application stand out without looking at your grades.


1. Service Projects and Community Service

Schools don’t want to accept students that seem like they are just robots studying all the time that don’t care about anything besides getting into their program. They want students with a meaningful purpose behind their hard work in undergrad. They want someone who is viewed as a good person that will improve their school’s image instead of damaging it. What better way to show you are a good person and generally care for other people than by doing community service? This way you not only show you are intelligent, but are also wanting to make a difference in the world.


2. Writing a Good Personal Statement or Essay

Your personal statement or essay on an application is your way of showing your personality away from the numbers and lists of accomplishments on the rest of your application. So maybe you weren’t the president of 20 clubs, had a 4.0 GPA, worked full-time, and discovered a cure for the common cold, but if you can talk about who you are outside a professional world and show how your experiences led you to where you are today then chances are you might catch someone’s eye. The admissions faculty will read hundreds of essays and personal statements a day so you want yours to stand out over the rest. Check out my post Tips on Writing a Good Personal Statement for more inspiration on this.


3. Getting Wonderful Letters of Recommendation

This can be huge for your application. If you get the right person to write you a letter, someone that will be respected by the institution or program you are applying to, then chances are the school will at least grant you an interview. Schools typically do not know anything about you when you send in your application besides what you list about yourself in it. If you give them another opinion on why you would be great for their program from an outside source it’s more reassuring to the admissions faculty that you really are one of the top candidates for their program. Work on building good relationships with professors and individuals working in your field of interest.


4. Get Involved

As I said before schools don’t want students who are just hermits all the time that stay in their dorm room and study. They want to see that you have good social skills and are able to effectively communicate to a staff and team. If you’re going for a professional degree you’re showing you want to be a leader so you need to prove you have the skills to be a leader. There are plenty of ways to get involved on a college campus like clubs, intramural sports, internships, and so on. Find something you enjoy and get out there!


5. Apply Early!

Remember that phrase our parents or grandparents used to tell us all the time? The early bird gets the worm. You’ll realize there actually is some truth behind that. By applying early you will be one of the first applications your school will see and if you impress them right from the start they will be more likely to grant you an interview or acceptance. If you wait too long then the admissions staff might already have some or all of their seats filled up by the time they review your application. Have all your letters of recommendation and information ready by the day your application cycle opens.


With all this being said even if you are not invited to an interview or get acceptance into your program the first time you apply you shouldn’t give up! There could have been a number of reasons why you didn’t make it in, but just take some time to step back and prepare for the next application cycle.


There’s always a chance your dream will come true when you keep trying, but there is no chance when you decide to give up.


Good luck and I hope this made you smile!