When you apply to graduate school, think of your application as your first encounter with someone whom you admire. You want to make a positive first impression. While the application may seem two-dimensional, its different parts provide ample opportunities through which you can highlight your strengths. You may find this college student's guide to applying to grad school useful as well. As you compile your essays, recommendations, transcripts, and resume, check out these three ways to creatively enhance your graduate school application.
1. Draw on your unique background and experiences
When you write your essays and resume, reflect on what makes you unique. Think about the clubs in which you have participated and the leadership roles you have taken on, especially those that relate to your intended field of study. By showing you exceeded what was required of you, especially in an academic setting, you are sure to stand out. In addition, consider mentioning any jobs and internships you have held in the past. Do not discount part-time or volunteer experiences; they can also help demonstrate to admissions officers your seriousness about pursuing graduate school. These are some great tips on how to write a resume for grad school applications.
Assess your experiences outside of school and work as well. To where have you traveled, either in your free time or through a program? What about your personal background? Did you move around much as a child, which forced you to adapt quickly to new situations? Or did you stay in one place and get to know your community well? Are you passionate about a certain cause? How would you diversify your prospective school´s student body? Pinpointing your unique characteristics will help your graduate school application to stand out.
2. Research and connect with the school
Get familiar with the schools to which you are applying. Adjust your applications for each school. Browse the university website, and take note of what the university values in prospective and current students. Do they emphasize certain values over others, such as leadership, teamwork, or diversity? Next, think about how your own interests and experiences relate to those values. If you relate your priorities to those of the institution, admissions officers will be impressed. If you can, schedule formal or informal interviews. Begin casual correspondence with the admissions department, the department of your intended major, or alumni. This interaction will aid you in getting to know the school better. The simple act of reaching out could even add “points” to your application – you never know!
3. Include a relevant anecdote
The main goal of the application essay is to show that you are a thoughtful, articulate individual. Admissions board members will notice how hard you have worked through your transcripts and resume; it is the essay where your voice and personality shine. At the beginning of your essay, include a personal experience that strongly relates to your intended field of study. Consider turning points in your life – for example, when you were first inspired to pursue your line of study or when you gained greater traction in the field. Did you have an experience during your childhood, adolescence, or young adult years when you were challenged and learned something monumental? Seek out ways to relate these experiences to your goals and your desire to study at that specific school. There is nothing more humanizing – and balancing to the application – than a relevant and well thought-out personal story. This is a great list of the best classes for grad school admissions.
You will spend much time self-reflecting throughout the graduate school application process. Remember that you have a lifetime of experiences you can include; relate them to the university you wish to enter. The admissions department will be able to read the confidence in your application, both in your past studies and prospective studies at their institution.