As I’ve been discussing, part of the pre-application thought process involves honest analysis of your achievements and abilities, along with your future interests. Grad school will give you the opportunity for deep, advanced study in your field—including theoretical/methodological approaches undergrads are rarely exposed to. As you prepare to apply, consider how to present your skills/accomplishments effectively, and whether you need to shore up any gaps in your record.
First, think about the skills you’ve gained so far, and think about the programs you’re considering.
Do you meet the prerequisites for admission? (Challenges may arise if you don’t have an undergraduate degree in the field you want to pursue, for example—you may have to demonstrate that you have sufficient background.) Does the department require any specific knowledge on entrance (such as statistics or foreign language fluency)? Can gaps be made up during your first semester, or do you need to remedy them before you apply?
Do you have research experience? If yes, what type of project did you complete? Did you participate in faculty research or conduct your own project? Did your work result in any presentations/publications? What did you learn about your field? What did you learn about the process of doing research/conducting a long-term project? How did this project make you interested in pursuing future research?
Have you done anything special to gain pertinent skills? Did you take accelerated or grad level courses as an undergrad? Did you participate in an honors program? Are you planning to take any extra coursework before applying? If you’re working, have you gained skills through your job that relate to your proposed program?
By Dr. Rebecca Blustein, author of Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School, Rebecca is available to help you write clear essays and personal statements that communicate and persuade.