Thursday, April 7, 2011
Getting Ready for Grad School Part Two – The Application Process
Special Guest Blog by Kirsten Rodning
In this chapter of my “Getting Ready for Grad School” blog series, I am going to discuss the steps that each student should take before and during the process of applying to graduate schools. At this point, you have already figured out what to do when the time comes to take the GRE, but what are the next steps?
Before you do anything else, you should make a list of all of the universities you are interested in. Go to their websites and determine what the application due date is for each school. Every school will have a different due date, and it is imperative that you keep track of when materials are due for each school.
Next, narrow down which schools you will actually apply to. Do this by researching your program of interest within each university. Make sure you look at the faculty and what their individual specialties are, the courses available in the school’s academic catalog, and the location and physical appearance of the campus itself. Since application fees are often very high, narrowing down your school choices to three or four options is a good idea.
Once you’ve chosen a few schools, your next step is to look at the application itself and find out exactly what you are required to submit. Usually the requirements will be different for each department, so make sure you look at the department requirements and not just the overall school requirements. For instance, when I applied for Georgia State University, each applicant was required to look at a specific page for their department, and applications were sent directly to a specific school, or college, within the university. As an English major, I looked at the English department’s page for application requirements, and I submitted my application directly to the College of Arts and Sciences through an online form (See an example of a degree requirements page here and an example of an application checklist here.
After you have all of that straightened out, it’s time to write a statement of purpose and an academic resume, along with pulling together a writing sample or portfolio. Some schools don’t require all of these items, but chances are good that you will have to submit each of them for at least one school. I can’t tell you exactly how to write each of these, but we do have several good books and resources here in the library to assist with this process. Just ask a librarian at the reference desk for help, and he or she can lead you to the books that discuss graduate school applications (Some examples of book titles that are held behind the circulation desk include Kaplan’s Get Into Graduate School, Graduate School: Winning Strategies for Getting in With or Without Excellent Grades, Graduate School Companion, and Graduate Admissions Essays). You can also visit the Center for Student Success for more help with your application process.
Two other things that you need to keep in mind during this process are your letters of recommendation and your college transcripts. Make sure you request your letters of recommendation from teachers or employers several weeks before the application deadlines, so you can give your letter writers plenty of time to write the letters and mail them to the schools. The resources we have in the library will also assist you with picking letter writers and asking them for letters. Having your transcripts mailed to your prospective schools is a much easier task. All you have to do is visit the Registrar’s office and fill out a short form and pay a small fee, and they will mail a copy of your transcript to your school of choice. If you have attended any other school before Reinhardt, you will also have to request transcripts from each school you attended.
This concludes part two of the “Getting Ready for Grad School” blog series. Good luck with your applications!