Friday, October 10, 2014
3 Tips To Reduce Your Graduate School Application Stress
by Katie-Ann Mason, Ed.M.
1. Be Prepared
When applying to graduate school, allow yourself plenty of time, and make sure you are prepared for the process. When you are searching for schools or researching a specific school of interest, it is important to review the school’s website in detail. You will likely have questions that can’t be answered online, but it is an important place to start. Many schools put pertinent admissions, financial aid, and academic program information on their sites just for you. Before applying, you also want to be sure that you are in compliance with all eligibility requirements, and that you understand the complete process.
2. Start Early
I recommend starting the application process early. You want to give yourself time to collect all the pieces of your application. You also want to give your references time to complete their recommendations for you. Everyone gets busy, including your references. Out of fairness to them, give them time to carefully write up and submit your recommendation. You also want to allow time as a buffer in case there are any problems getting your official transcripts sent to the school.
3. Put Your Best Foot Forward in the Personal Statement
For many schools, the personal statement is a writing sample, so be sure you follow the prescribed format, answer the required questions, and have one or more people look it over and review for grammar, spelling, or content errors and concerns. The personal statement is also one of the subjective parts of your application. It is the review committee’s chance to hear your voice. This statement is your chance to relay why you are choosing a certain profession or career path, why you are choosing to apply to that school in particular, and why you are a good fit for the school. It also provides you an opportunity to discuss any piece of the application that you are concerned with. For example, if you failed a class or had to withdraw, discussing these matters in your personal statement gives the committee something else to consider other than a grade on a paper.
Applying to graduate school can be stressful. Try to enjoy the search process and remember that you have to choose the school that is the best overall fit for you.
Katie-Ann Mason, Ed.M., is the admissions officer at the Boston University School of SocialWork, a dynamic, urban-based graduate program offering MSW and PhD and continuing professional education.