Preparing Your Application
Applying to Graduate School
Applying to Graduate School can seem like a very daunting task if you don't know where to start. By utilizing the information on this page provided by Career Services Director, Rosalie Walsh, your application process can be conducted effectively and with confidence.
Utilize the Career Services Handouts found at the left side of the page for help with your Curriculum Vitae as well as visit the "Job Preparation" page linked to the Career Services home page for more information regarding resumes or interviewing.
How to Improve your Candidacy for Admission
You can enhance your chances of acceptance into the graduate school of your choice by engaging in any of the following:
- Review your undergraduate course selection, and with the help of your faculty advisor, identify classes which could potentially strengthen your background academically (e.g. writing, computer science, accounting, chemistry, etc.).
- Training and research experience can complement a solid academic performance. By taking advantage of independent research projects or engaging in your own thesis construction, you can demonstrate a willingness to undertake in-depth research in a field of your choice and grow to know members of your department quite well.
- Serving as an undergraduate laboratory assistant will not only help confirm your own career goals, but also indicate a level of commitment to your academic field. For example, Carroll has opportunities to become tutors, lab assistants, and/or graders.
- Getting to know your professors can increase your comprehension of the classes and subject matter, as well as provide a means through which your letters of recommendation can be strengthened. Professors who know their students outside of class generally can write stronger, more detailed letters of recommendation than they can for students who have never made the effort to know their professors.
- Many disciplines have professional organizations in which you can become a student affiliate. In some of these organizations, you can receive journals with recent developments in the field and information on preparation programs. In addition, you will learn of upcoming conferences, conventions and possible job openings. Many Carroll students present professional papers at regional as well as national professional conferences aligned with their academic major/future career area.
- Depending on the choice of field, experiential opportunities will help in your preparation for graduate work. For example, if you are interested in counseling or psychology you might want to gain some training and experience in the helping services. Volunteer opportunities, internships, and summer jobs are ways in which to gain practical knowledge while at the same time put personal learning into action. Many graduate programs require a minimum number of volunteer hours in order to be considered for admission into their programs.
- Also worthy of consideration are extracurricular activities where you can demonstrate a high level of energy and leadership potential.
When preparing the application form, treat every aspect about it with great care:
- Read and follow instructions carefully
- Pay particular attention to varying deadlines - usually falling between January and March for fall matriculation
- Type all information unless otherwise required
- Keep a copy for your own records
- Be prepared for the expense of non-refundable application fees ranging from $20.00 to $40.00 each
- Answer optional questions about ethnicity and religion only if you think it will help you
- Have someone proofread carefully for spelling, grammar, and typographical errors.
Most applications require an autobiographical section or a statement of career/graduate study goals. Keep these points in mind:
- Compose the essay carefully, asking professors and friends to critique your writing.
- Be brief, concise, and stick to the information requested - two double-spaced pages should be enough
- Avoid use of slang words too elaborate for the purpose at hand.
- Communicate why you wish to attend graduate school, what you hope to gain from the experience, and what your future plans are. Tailor each essay to each school's philosophy and requirements; describe what parts of the program expecially appeal to you and why you have chosen to apply to this school above all others.
Entrance Exams and Transcripts
Almost all graduate schools require that you take an entrance exam. In Career Services, you will find information and applications for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In addition, the Academic Resource Center has guides for the chemistry portion of the MCAT, LSAT, and GRE (both general and some specific subjects tests). In metropolitan areas, training courses are offered in preparation for these exams. Unfortunately, there are none available locally.
Admissions committees always require official transcripts (as opposed to a student copy) from each college or university attended. Typically the cost for these is $5.00 each, and they must be mailed directly from the Registrar to the institution considering your application.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are essential and an important component of your application. Make sure to ask professors and previous employers early to write these letters. Do not send in more letters to any one institution than requested.
In applying for financial aid, you will probably need to complete some type of standardized Form, which is often the Graduate and Professional School Financial Aid Service (GAPFAS) application. For an excellent listing of financial aid definitions and a bibliography of financial aid directories, refer to: Peterson's Annual guide to Graduate and Professional Programs: An Overview available in the Career Resource Library.
Some schools require the enclosure of a curriculum vita (C.V.) or qualifications statement. Workshops, appointments, and handouts and books on resume writing are all available in Career Services to help with this process.
Many schools require a selection interview. Your effectiveness in such an interview is dependent on your level of confidence. Your confidence is dependent on the amount of preparation.
Graduate School Handouts
The following documents were created by Rosalie Walsh, director of Career Services to assist you in your graduate school endeavors.
The Complete Grad School Guide
THE COMPLETE GRAD SCHOOL GUIDE.pdf
This guide contains everything you need from researching grad schools, to applying, and more.
Crafting Your Curriculum Vitae
A Curriculum Vitae ("CV" or "vita") is a comprehensive, biographical statement emphasizing your professional qualifications and activities.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Your resume is your single most important document in your job search. Consider it your marketing tool--this packet will help you sell yourself more effectively. Remember, never send a resume without a cover letter. A cover letter is one more marketing tool and very essential to the application process.
Action Verbs for Resumes.pdf
Utilizing action verbs in your resume is one of the most important ways to make your resume stand out in a crowd.
Behavioral based interviewing is a new style of interviewing that more and more companies and organizations are using in their hiring process. Use this handout to learn what it is and how to nail it.
Interviewers look for the potential of new employees to become valued, trusted, productive team members of their company. Use this handout to tailor your interview answers to what employers are looking for.