Executing Excellence: Admissions Advice
So, you’ve taken care of the Dependents – congratulations, but the party is just getting started! Now the hard work begins.The execution of the application is the most critical part of the process, so let’s walk through what you need to check off your list.
Time: You will need to carve out dedicated time in your schedule, over the next few months, to make the application process work. What are you doing today that you can pause in order to create room for dedicated time to focus on your application? Think about waking up earlier, reallocating lunch time, or perhaps exchanging weekend “fun” time for weekend “app” time. Schedule the time on your calendar as if it were a work function; allocating adequate time is a critical success factor for the application process.
Research: Complete the research of your schools as soon as you can. In doing so, you will get to your school list quicker and you will be better prepared for providing clear rationale of why you want to go to the schools you will be applying to. Research can include a number of things:
Online research of the schools
Speaking to students and alumni
Attending in-person fairs and information sessions in your city
Resume: Get your resume out of the way early because it is something you may use for engaging with admissions staff at events as well as general networking. You will likely need a one-page resume unless you are an executive graduate applicant or applying for a research degree.
Interview: Some interviews are invitation-only, others self-driven, and yet others are completely optional. Generally, if you have the opportunity to get in front of the admissions committee through a formal interview, we recommend doing it (unless you are incredibly boring or uninteresting; in that case, stay home). If the interview is self-driven or optional, make sure to set-up a time for the interview ASAP, so you can get a good interview slot. If the interview is driven by the admissions staff, practice as if you are going to get the interview, so you will be ready when the time comes!
Application: The short-answer portion of the application is a very important, and often an area where applicants don’t spend adequate time. Make sure to download all of the questions for each application to your favorite word processing platform and answer the questions there before you do so in the application, so you can make changes, check spelling, etc. Your short-answer application questions should be well thought out and consistent with your application brand.
Essays: Perhaps the most important part of the application is the essay or personal statement portion of the application. These “essays” provide unique insight into an applicants’ character, values, interests, motivations and passion while providing critical guidance about an applicants’ career interests. You should spend a significant amount of time on this part of the application as it’s your primary opportunity to really sell yourself as a differentiated candidate.
Taxes: Misprint, right? Wrong. Yes, taxes! Normally, it’s not a big deal if you wait until the last minute to get your taxes done or even ask for an extension, however, in the case of graduate school, doing your taxes early may help you get a leg up on the financial aid process. Often schools will ask for your taxes as part of the evaluative process for financial consideration, so having your taxes ready to submit once you’ve been accepted is something to start thinking about now.