Graduate School - Application Process
- Application and fee: Make sure the application is neatly typed and is mailed by the deadline. If the schools you are applying to have rolling admission you should apply as early as possible. Even those schools with a regular admission process like to see applications that are submitted in advance of the deadline.
- Admission Test Scores: Each institution has their own requirements regarding admission test requirements and this information can be found in either the Peterson's or the GRE graduate guides. The GRE, GMAT and LSAT registration booklets can be picked up in Career Services. Within the registration booklet, you will find the dates of the exams, pre-registration deadlines and one practice test. It is advisable to spend some time going over individual questions and taking more than one practice test. Test preparation books are useful and preparatory classes such as those offered by Kaplan may be helpful.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Most general graduate schools require the General Test and may require the Subject Test. The General Test contains a verbal, quantitative and analytical section. The Subject Test measures knowledge of a particular subject matter.
- Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT): The GMAT may be a requirement for students seeking an MBA degree.
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT): The LSAT is designed to measure abilities needed for the study of law and to assist law schools in evaluating their applicants. The use of the LSDAS service is highly recommended as it assembles, in one report, all of the information required of the applicant by most law schools.
- Medical College Admissions Tests (MCAT): The MCAT measures the applicants abilities in chemistry, physics, biology, reading and quantitative and analytical skills. Applicants are encouraged to take the MCAT eighteen months before entering medical school.
- Miller Analogy Test (MAT): The MAT uses verbal analogies to test reasoning ability. Some graduate schools will accept the MAT in lieu of the GRE.
- Official Transcripts: Most schools ask that an official transcript be sent from your college registrar's office. The transcript demonstrates your receipt of an undergraduate degree, the courses you took and grades received. If you have taken classes or received a degree at another institution, you need to request a transcript from that school as well.
- GPA: The GPA is one factor that graduate schools will take into effect. The GPA needed for acceptance to most graduate schools is at least 3.0. Don't rule out graduate school if your GPA is below a 3.0, but, concentrate on and emphasize your strengths. If your GPA is below the average of those generally accepted, work on enhancing your personal statement, admissions test scores or gain some relevant work experience.
- Letters of Recommendation: Letters should be requested early from professors and/or employers who can attest to your abilities. Individuals who can clearly articulate your abilities and accomplishments are your best sources. Admissions officers like to see specific examples about different facets of the application. The reference should include some statements about your skills, accomplishments and character. They can also be used to explain a negative in your application.
Have employers or professors use the forms enclosed in the application and give them information on what your professional interests and goals are (a copy of your personal statement or resume is helpful). Also, provide a self-addressed stamped envelope.
- Statement of Purpose: Most graduate schools will ask you to explain to them why you seek acceptance in their program. A statement of purpose should not be confused with the personal essay, nor is it a prose version of your transcript. Your statement of purpose should prove to the admissions committee your interest in and dedication to the subject of study. If your commitment to the content area is sincere and you have given great thought to your motivation in applying to graduate school, your statement of purpose should reflect this. Most applicants do not have a well-formed purpose in mind. Sincerity is discernible and insincerity is unmistakable. Since a graduate program means extensive work with one or two faculty members, you would be wise to research the faculty in your area of interest. Know who they are, research what they have written, and read what they have written. In your statement of purpose, if you can say you are interested in studying a specific area, explain why and then go on to elaborate your familiarity with the work done by faculty member X in this area. Committee members will see that you have done your homework. A resource that may be of help to you and includes sample statements is: How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate and Professional School by Richard J. Steelzer (Peterson's Guides).
- Interview: Some schools require an interview for acceptance. If you are applying for an assistantship or fellowship, an interview may also be required. If the school does not require an interview, it would still be advantageous to schedule a time to meet with a faculty member or chairperson of the department for which you are applying. This meeting provides an opportunity to obtain more information about their school and the graduate program. Before the interview, you should read over the catalogue to become familiar with the institution's goals and functions. The following are possible questions asked by graduate schools in an interview: Why did you choose this graduate program? What are some of the reasons that you have chosen this profession? Tell me about your experiences in your field of interest. What are your long range goals? What was your most rewarding college experience? Tell me about yourself.
- Other: Samples of previous work may be required for such programs as Art, Architecture, Public Relations and Journalism. A portfolio can be created to highlight your outstanding papers, research, art projects, etc... Putting together a portfolio can be discussed in Career Services. Other programs may require evidence of pervious work experience in the field. This shows your enthusiasm and interest in the field and demonstrates out of class learning.