It’s summertime, so you might be enjoying a well-deserved break from school or even a more relaxed work schedule. We hope you’ve got a vacation planned and will be firing up the BBQ with friends on a regular basis. This kind of recreation helps you recharge for the busy months ahead, so enjoy!
But if you are also planning to apply to grad school in the fall or early winter, you should consider using part of your free time to do some prep work. Consider this short list of things you can do over the summer to enhance your stature with the adcoms and get that much closer to earning those acceptances you dream about.
1. Keep Researching Programs
You might already have your heart set on one or two “dream” programs and chosen your backup schools, too. Keep on top of what’s happening at these programs by following them on social media and staying abreast of any other content they release, including blog posts, video interviews, and podcasts. You’ll stay current on any new initiatives or offerings they introduce and feel more knowledgeable overall. Many schools have student ambassadors or others with whom applicants can connect to learn even more, so check to see whether the programs you’re interested in offer this resource.
We also suggest that you continue to research other programs not currently on your target list. This is especially important if the schools you plan to apply to are “reach” schools for you AND you are determined to clinch an acceptance the first time around. Comb through the websites of other programs and follow them the same way you follow your “dream” schools. Although these other programs might have been under the radar for you, they could be gems, offering an excellent education and environment where you can earn your degree and progress to the next stage of your career.
2. Analyze Your Applicant Profile
Look for opportunities to burnish your credentials in ways your target programs value. For example, if you’re applying to an MBA program and have little in the way of leadership experience or community service, get involved – ASAP – in something relevant that you care about and will enjoy. Doing so will help patch up that hole in your profile. If you begin in June, you can log a six-month commitment by December, and if you are waitlisted, your track record of commitment will only grow from there.
If your academic record is weak, find a class or two that can supplement it, and start hitting the books. Summer is also an ideal time to prepare for any required tests, whether aptitude or language tests. If you earned a disappointing score on the GMAT or GRE and will be applying to programs that require one of these exams, find a prep course and gird up for a retake.
What else can you do during the summer to enhance your standing? Here are a few other ideas:
- Strike up a correspondence with a student at or graduate of your target program to learn more about it, or connect with a member of a local alumni chapter and meet with them in person.
- Network in person or online with people working in the industry you seek to join and/or in the type of role you wish to have. Keep reading, attend seminars or professional meetings (if nonmembers are welcome), and look for other ways to deepen your understanding of what you can expect when working in that field and/or role. These interactions might also provide valuable insights that you could use in one of your essays.
- If possible, try to get a part-time job or internship related to your intended field.
3. Polish Your Resume
A strong resume is a huge asset to your application, but it takes a lot of skill (and time) to effectively convey your most outstanding strengths in an organized fashion and few words. Make sure to emphasize your most notable and recent achievements, whether they are in business, leadership, research, teamwork, academia, jobs, or internships. Having a solid resume in your back pocket that should require only minor revising during application season will give you one less task to worry about in the fall and winter.
4. Begin to Map Out Themes for Your Essays
The schools being to roll out their essay prompts and questions during the summer. Why not get a jump start on sketching out your ideas for themes and experiences you could write about? Law school applicants, for example, can begin working on personal statements and addenda. Your ideas will probably evolve over the coming months, but the time you devote now to thinking about and reviewing your experiences and goals will be time well spent.
Reading this blog post brings you one step closer to submitting a winning grad school application. If you would like personal guidance on choosing your programs, polishing your resume, refining your essay strategy, or any other aspect of your grad school applications, check out our versatile options for flat-rate packages or hourly assistance. We’re here to help YOU get Accepted!
By Judy Gruen, a former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a Master’s in journalism from Northwestern University and is the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!