- Graduate School
- Introduction to the Graduate School
- Why is it needed?
- How Affordable Is It
- The Many Myth-Busters
- Doing Research about Graduate School
- Introduction to Graduate School Research
- Identifying the Subject Best Fit For You
- Masters or Ph.D.?
- Qualities of a Successful Ph.D. Student
- Accordingly Identify the School
- How Many Schools to Apply?
- The Different Variables to Be Worked Out
- The Application for Graduate School
- Starting Your Application
- The Application Process
- How Does the Application Process Work?
- What Are People Looking For In Your Application?
- Picking the Right University and the Right Professor
- The Right Professor Is the Most Important Factor
- Few Questions You Need To Ask Of a Professor
- Parts of a Graduate School Application
- Things to Keep In Mind
- The Resume: The Importance of A Powerful One
- Writing Effective Statement of Purpose
- The Importance of an Important and Compelling Essay
- Personal Interviews
- Introduction to Interviews
- Do's In an Interview
- Don’ts in an Interview
- After The Interview
- Accepting an Offer
- Rejecting an Offer
- Preparing For Financials
- You Are In… What Now… The Road Ahead…
- Make an Estimate of the Fixed Costs
- Do You Qualify For a Need-Based Aid?
- How to Apply For the Need-Based Aid
- How Is the Aid Awarded?
- Non-Need-Based Aid
- Other Ways to Pay for Your Degree:
- What If You Fall Short
- Other Brooding Points
- International Students
- International Students Guidelines
- Few Not-So Important Critical Points
- Summing Up Admission Process
- Why Is Graduate School Important?
- Life in the Big League: A Graduate Student
- Different Schools for Different Programs
Things to Be Done Before Starting your Application
After the issues of why the education is needed and how it will be funded, comes another step – and perhaps this step will decide everything that follows, the application process. It might appear like it just another form that requires name, address etc. to be filled.
Often students feel that this is a very trivial process, and that it can be filled without any brainstorming. This is a big mistake, a mistake that can potentially end your journey even before it is started. Always, spend maximum time reading and understanding the nitty-gritty of the application form. There are many clauses that must be properly registered, and never be messy, haphazard or incomplete during the application process.
The first impression that is created is through this application form, and the image is totally dependent on how careful and how much time you have given in the application form. For the admission committee, this piece of paper is of utmost importance. Most schools have two different application forms – one for the specific course you are applying for, and the other for all the programs that are being offered by the universities.
During the application make sure that you list out not only your previous experiences, but also how you are willing to re-invent if the need may be, and that you are not hesitant in stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve the required target.
We have identified the few steps can guide the aspirants:
- Visit the website:
This process should ideally start during the under-graduate days, and the aspirants much visit the websites of different colleges to check the diverse requirements, and also it should be made sure that all bases are covered, and the missing points are properly explored. Also, all the other important details should be mentioned. Every detail is made available over the website and it is the prerogative of the students as to how they best utilize the available information, for instance confirm the dates of the examination (GRE/MAT) and find out the minimum score.
- Note down the deadlines:
It goes without saying that meeting deadlines is very important, and that all possible attempts must be made to stay one step ahead. Never wait for the last date of the deadline, because there is a good chance that in spite of having a very impressive portfolio, you will miss out on the seat, more so because many graduate programs entertain applicants on a first-come-first- serve basis. The number of seats available for each program is limited as are the professors who will guide you. So buck up and get the submission done. Another important decision that you will have to make is regarding the submission dates, and always try to book an early submission date owing to the above reasons.
- The documents needed:
Application forms usually have several forms like receipt forms, return envelopes, etc. and there may be multiple addresses and many different deadlines. In order to minimize the mistakes it is advisable to get 2-3 dummy copies made. Fill the details carefully and after being confident fill the final application form. It is also very important to fit in the details in the space provided – for sometimes it may happen that the space is less and the information does not fit in. Hence, dummy forms will help you muster in the information. The application forms usually consist of your references, essays and transcripts from the under-graduate level. These transcripts should be directly sent by the under-graduate colleges with the official logo. The scoresheets of the graduate or/and professional examinations should also be provided.
And then after all the formalities, carefully check the application fees, the different mediums available.
- The reference letter and the template required:
The reference letter is a very important part of the application. The best reference letters can be drafted by the professors who have already taught you either at the under-graduate level, or other teachers and close accomplices who can vouch for you and present a credible letter. If you have work experience in any industry, your supervisor or your employers too can formulate their opinions by the reference letter.
Now why are these letters important? Primarily because these letters give an indication about your ability and will also help you get a head-start in the chosen field.
Letters from someone famous, or from someone distinguished will be a massive bonus. Typically, you will need three letters of reference, and the application to the graduate program will be deemed incomplete if all the three letters are not received.
So how can you derive maximum advantage out of this letter?
As discussed earlier, it is always better to go to people who know you well as a student or professional; ideally someone from whom you have taken a few courses. Well, the job does not end once you have found your ‘referee’; in fact it has just begun. Assist your referee by providing necessary background information about yourself, your interests, your future plans at the graduate school and if possible provide a truncated resume so that all your achievements are listed properly. Now, it will be beneficial if you highlight the courses that you have taken from the referee. Also clearly state if you are looking for any scholarships, and provide the required scholarship forms. Mention the deadlines and the template that should be followed, since different schools have different templates. The earlier you arrive with the requirement and the template, the less hard-pressed for time are the referees, and hence they will get more opportunities to articulate your achievements, priorities and performances in a more adept manner.
There is a way of asking your teachers to write the reference letter for you. You just cannot barge into their room and demand a letter to be written. Give them a proper reason, your background and the accomplishments so far. Also clearly mention as to why you are choosing one school over the other as well as the contingency plans.
This is the proposed template for a reference letter:
Hope you are doing great. If you will remember, I was your student during the final year of my (specify the under-graduate course). You will be happy to know that I have decided to apply to a graduate school, and have identified my area of interest (mention the area). However, during the application filling procedure, I require a reference letter, and was wondering if you could oblige by writing the same for me.
It was during those final months when I was attending your classes did this thought dawn upon me about applying for higher studies, and hence it is only appropriate that you pen down this letter. If you remember, I continuously bothered you to guide me through my final-year project (mention the lab/ project and subject and also the grades achieved), and as a result I was able to pass out with flying colors.
Now, since this letter is an important cog in the application wheel, I want you to do the honors for me. Please let me know if you need any further details. I shall be forever obliged.
These are my college credentials. (Mention your passing grade, the roll-number, the school ethos for which you are applying and any such details that helps in identifying you).
NAME and Phone Number.
Finally, when all the details have been included, do a complete spell-check for any potential typing-errors or grammatical mistakes. Since you have invested so much time and detail into the process leave nothing to chance and be accountable for every word that is printed on YOUR application form. Arrange the documents as mentioned in the brochure or according to the details on the website, so that when the application form is reviewed there is less or no hassle.
The letter of reference is very important, and ranks very high during the application evaluation process, in some cases, perhaps as important as the GRE score or the GPA scored.