What you need to consider:
- Extra Curricular Activities
- Interview Preparation
- Entrance Essays
Get a Good GPA
- Grad programs are highly competitive because most graduate programs (master and PhD) have limited seats available. You will need a strong undergraduate GPA in order to show the admissions committee that you are capable to succeeding in a highly competitive academic environment. In addition, graduate school requires a lot of fortitude.
- When faced with highly competitive academic environment, you will be required to read, work and research more than you did as an undergraduate student. In order to ensure you are prepared, you must have a high GPA, or be able to explain your low GPA in your interview/essay.
Nail your GRE
- A high GRE score will not guarantee acceptance, but a very low GRE score may guarantee rejection from most schools. You must prepare for your GRE enough to score within the average for your target school.
- A good GRE score is one that will get you into the school of your choice.
- Many schools just require that you take GRE. Please check with both the general graduate office and the office of your chosen discipline.
Get Involved in Extra Curricular Activities
- Applying to good graduate programs requires more than great grades. You also need to think about extracurricular activities. Typical students spend so much time worrying about GPA that they ignore the differentiating factors of their personal lives and their applications.
- Successful people do many things, but they do not do too many things. Admissions officers want students that are involved in a few extracurricular activities throughout their entire high school career. In addition, they want to see that you start as a beginner and end as a leader. Leadership in a few activities is much more positive for your application that pseudo-membership in many activities.
- Many top ranked graduate programs will require an interview. The interview is your time to represent yourself as someone perfect for the program.
- You must prepare your interview questions specifically for each school.
- All programs will requite letters of recommendation. The single most important factor when choosing someone to write your recommendation is how well they know you.
- A recommendation must be from a professional that you have close ties with: ideally your boss will write a good recommendation. It is integral that you get along with your supervisor.
- Your admissions essay may be the single most important factor to your admission chances. Your essay is your chance to explain who you are, what you want to do, and how they will help you achieve that goal. It is your chance to explain poor grades, to expand on work or life experience, and to make your case for admissions. You absolutely must spend a lot of time preparing your essay.
- Having instructors, counselors and private companies read through your essays is the best way to get constant feedback. Your essay must explain why you are the best candidate for admittance without being brazen or arrogant. You must walk the tightrope between talking yourself up and being humble. This is a very difficult task, but one worth taking the time and effort necessary to succeed.