Once you’ve decided where you will apply, timing and preparation are key:
1. Start early!
- Some applications are due in November/December.
- Most applications are due in January/February.
2. Stay organized!
- Read and follow directions carefully and know the selection procedure and deadlines for each school.
- Mark your deadlines on your calendar and check it frequently.
- Treat each application individually.
- Be sure to order the appropriate number of transcripts. Remember to order an unofficial copy for yourself!
Most schools require a copy of your resume with your application package. Make sure your resume is up to date, and highlights skills and experience that are relevant to your course of study. Alumni Career Engagement can help you structure your resume to look its best. But remember to start early!
- Know which exams are required and/or recommended for your applications (both general and subject exams) and register in time for score submission. Note there is some lag time in getting scores to schools. For some executive programs, testing may not be required or may be waived. Check with your schools’ admissions offices.
- Be honest with yourself about your test taking ability, and take a practice test to establish your baseline. Factor in plenty of time to study before the test, and to retake if necessary.
- Consider a test prep course or test prep book to assist you if necessary. Members of the Alumni Association receive a 10% discount on Kaplan courses, including GMAT, GRE, LSAT, DAT, MCAT, and Kaplan financial classroom courses, premium online courses, live online courses, private tutoring programs and deluxe programs.
- Review our list of Graduate School Entrance Exams.
You will need official copies of your transcript from every school you’ve attended, even if you only took one class. If your major GPA is higher than your overall GPA (as shown on your transcript), highlight that fact on your application or resume. Order an unofficial copy for yourself too, as you may need it for the application.
- Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the application. At least one letter needs to be from an academic reference. Academic references are necessary to demonstrate your ability to handle the academic rigor of the program.
- If you have been working for some time and are applying to a work-related program, work recommendations are clearly appropriate. If you have taken coursework in anticipation of applying to the program, an academic reference would be appropriate as well.
- Ask people who know you well to provide specifics about you, and give them plenty of notice. Late summer is a good time to ask and will allow them plenty of time to prepare your letter. Provide them with suggestions and materials as appropriate and/or upon request. It is fine to suggest ways that your academic or work experience with them relate to your goals for the program or to why the program is a perfect fit for you.
- Waive your right to review (legally you can make either choice). Follow up with each school to which you have applied to ensure each reference (and every other piece of your application) was received and is complete.
- Essays allow the reviewer to get to know you as a person and to see how your experience and academic/career goals would be a good fit for their program. Schedule an appointment with Alumni Career Engagement if you would like help strategizing or reviewing your essays.
- If you believe your academic record does not accurately reflect your abilities, or if there are other issues you believe you need to explain, there is usually an opportunity to make your case to the admissions committee in a personal statement. Take advantage of this opportunity!
- Start planning essays early and allow plenty of time for multiple rewrites before the deadline. Carefully review the requirements of each individual essay for every single school.
- Every school thinks they are very different from other schools and they want to know why you think their school is precisely the one for you. And they want to know what you bring to the table that make you precisely the one for them.
- You will not be specific enough if you write one essay and change only the first and the last paragraphs! Write each essay for each school.
- Research each program and faculty. Connect your unique interests, experience and academic/career goals to program specifics, like individual professors, their research interests, particular projects or school culture and values. Articulate your career goals clearly and mention how and why attending the program will help you achieve them.
- Write in the first person, but avoid overuse of personal pronouns. Identify several people to help you review for spelling/grammar, flow and content.
- Include your name, “Personal Statement”, the name of the School/Program and “pg. x of x”. Be sure to adhere to all formatting requirements.
- Your essay should be:
- In your voice
- Within length requirements
- Error free!
- You will likely be asked to provide writing samples as part of your application package.
- If you are a recent grad, samples should relate to your field of study, and should incorporate professors’ comments. When possible, work with the professor to revise the essay. Generally 1-2 project or research papers are used; submit a thesis chapter rather than a complete thesis.
- If you have been in the workforce for some time, a project or similar document may be acceptable, especially if you are applying to a business-related program. Check with your Admissions Officer. Be sure there are no issues with confidentiality.