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July 2015

How do I apply for graduate school?

Admission to graduate schools is competitive and in some fields, even harder than medical school. Minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements mean “barely enough to be considered”; they do not mean that everyone who has the minimum is admitted. Usually, students who are admitted have GPAs well above the minimum Even if you are a strong candidate academically, mishandling the application process may result in your not being admitted. Completing the application process successfully is, in a sense, your first test. Applying There are four principle parts to an application for graduate school: Application and fee; Official transcripts; Statement of [...]

What about transcripts?

Request transcripts from all schools you have ever attended. List all schools on your application; not only those schools where you received a degree. Send a transcript even for schools you attended only one term and made poor grades. This is important because, until all of your transcripts have been received, your application incomplete and will not be processed. Do not think you can simply avoid mentioning a school you attended, because any transcript showing your degree will have a record of your other schools. Request transcripts well in advance of deadlines: some schools take a long time to issue [...]

What is a statement of objectives?

A strong Statement of Objectives is crucial. Graduate programs are looking for students who fit into their specializations. You should have determined your specialization and goals well ahead of applying, but writing your statement will help you solidify and articulate them. The Statement of Objectives will be the only way you have to convince graduate programs that you do fit and that they should admit you. How do you write a good statement? Write a general rough draft to highlight your personal interests and qualifications. Be sure to mention your specialization. Next, write a rough draft for each individual program [...]

Do I need letters of recommendation?

Usually, you will need three letters of recommendation from faculty who are familiar with your academic work. Provide each of your referees with some background on you: A copy of your general Statement of Objectives. This will help “jog” their memories about what you want to do and will ensure that what they say about you will be consistent with what you have said. A copy of your resume (coursework, relevant activities, jobs, etc.). Copies of work (papers, exams) you did in their classes. A summary of salient points about the program(s) to which you are applying, so they can [...]

Do I need to follow up on my application?

It is your responsibility to follow up with the admission offices and to confirm that they have received everything. When following up, it is imperative that you be friendly and polite with everyone. When applying to UHM, you should receive an e-mail message confirming receipt and will tell you what, if any, documents are missing. Not all schools will do this! If you do not hear from the Admissions Office within a month of submitting the application plus fee, contact them directly. Send neat, heartfelt thank you notes to each and every referee who wrote you a letter of recommendation.

What determines admission?

These factors are under your control: Your grades – good grades will not guarantee admission, but bad grades will almost certainly keep you out. Graduate admission is very competitive. An accurate, complete application plus fee. If you have missing or incomplete application materials, your chances of admission drop to zero. The quality of your Statement of Objectives. Letters from supportive faculty. Three strong letters are simply the minimum; a bad or even lukewarm recommendation can hurt your application. Only exceptional, glowing recommendations or those written to a colleague are likely to have a positive impact. Strong test scores. These factors [...]

What should I do if I am rejected?

Try to find out why you were rejected and improve the areas under your control. Some programs will not reveal the reason for denial. Do not pressure them for an answer, as you have nothing to gain by annoying them. Appeal if you think there was something that was overlooked, but it is rare for appeals to succeed. You almost always have to have a faculty “champion” for this to succeed. Discuss your application with an academic advisor. Ask for a frank evaluation of your case and how to improve your chances of being accepted. Re-examine your Statement of Objectives; [...]

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