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7 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Grad School

grad school

Are you planning on applying to grad school in the near future? Are you having trouble with the application process? Well, there’s great news for you.

We know applying to graduate school can be difficult. There are tons of different aspects to consider! But, if you’re careful, you should be able to avoid many of the pitfalls. Let’s go through seven solutions to common mistakes that many people make when applying to grad school.

1. Proofread Everything

You need to be very careful and make sure you’re not leaving grammatical or spelling mistakes in your graduate school application. If possible, you should get several other people to read over your application to make sure that you haven’t missed anything in your readthroughs. 

2. Pick Your Recommendations Carefully

It can be difficult to decide what people you should be asking to write your recommendations. Ideally, they should be people you know quite well, and who would be interested in seeing you succeed.

Just because one of your professors is more academically impressive, doesn’t mean that they will be prepared to write the best recommendation for you.

You should also make sure your recommenders have enough information to write a detailed recommendation, by making sure they have copies of your resume, samples of your work, and your letters of interest. The more information that your recommenders have, the better their recommendations will be.

3. Answer Every Question

It’s very important to answer every single application directly. You can’t be answering with half-answers or with copy-and-pasted versions of the same thing.

And, you should make sure to be very specific in your answers. Include particular examples of your skills and experiences that back up any claims you make in your essay.

Making sure you address every single question on your applications directly and specifically is a really important part of making sure your graduate applications are successful.

4. Apply on Time

You need to make sure you’re submitting your graduate school applications before the deadline. Starting your application as soon as possible is a great way to ensure that you have all of your basis covered.

You should find out when the application for your programs will be released, and start applying as early as possible to get the best possible outcome.

That way, you’ll have lots of time to get everything you need for each of your applications in order, and you won’t have to run around at the last second to try and get everything completed.

Here are a couple of things you should make sure you have prepared when you’re applying to graduate school:

  • Test scores, like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GMAT
  • Transcripts from your undergraduate institutions
  • Professors or supervisors who are prepared to write you letters of recommendations
  • An up to date resume or curriculum vitae
  • A portfolio of your work
  • At least one academic writing sample, and a sample of your academic research

The above are just some of the things you might need when you’re applying to graduate school. Different programs have different specifications, so you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of what the schools you are applying to require. 

5. Be Honest

Lying on your application is always a no-go. Even if you don’t get discovered, you’ll likely come off as insincere to the reviewing committee.

If there are any big mistakes in your past, you should be upfront about them and explain how you learned from your errors, and what the circumstances of your past are. 

Nobody is perfect, after all, so it’ll look weirder if you claim you are. Most people have made some missteps on their path to graduate school, so the committee should have understanding if you own up to it and explain the situation. Being honest on your graduate school applications is super important for your future success!

6. Follow Directions

You should follow every instruction listed on your grad school applications very carefully. For example, if there is a word limit imposed for essays, you need to make sure you’re not going over that limit.

You’ll need to follow directions to actually attend graduate school, after all, so it’s really important to prove you can do it from the jump.

7. Know the Facts

One of the most important things you can do when you’re applying to graduate school is making sure that you’re applying to the right programs.

Make sure all of the possible information available, and make sure its the right fit for what you’re looking for. Many applications get thrown out every year from applicants who didn’t know what they were applying for and weren’t qualified, so make sure you educate yourself as much as possible when choosing programs to apply for.

For example, if you’re looking for a library science or archiving graduate program, you should make sure you’re not accidentally applying to a heavily computer science-based program by mistake! Doing your research and applying to schools that are right for you are a really great way to make sure your application process goes smoothly.

Applying to Grad School Is Easier Than You Think

If you avoid the above mistakes, your grad school applications should really be a breeze. They’re really not as complex as you think, as long as you follow the directions carefully.

Are you looking to apply to graduate this school this year? Do you need help with test preparation? Check out some of our graduate school test preparation books to help boost your chances.

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.