Insider Tips for Navigating the Grad School Application Maze

Insider Tips for Navigating the Grad School Application Maze

In this week's blog, we're excited to share a piece by Myra Mansoor, our very own Digital Marketing Coordinator. Myra has kindly opened up about her journey through grad school, sharing valuable insights along the way. Dive in and enjoy!


Entering the realm of graduate school applications can feel like diving into the unknown, but fear not! With some insider tips and a dash of organization, you can navigate this process like a pro. Here are some invaluable nuggets of wisdom that I gathered along the way:

Harness the power of Google Sheets

With the challenge of applying to multiple schools, it's easy to become overwhelmed. The best thing I did during the application process was creating a master document to manage all my application related information, which helped me track my progress and ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. It included the name of all the potential schools I was considering, their respective deadlines and their specific program requirements. If you write your letters of intent in google docs, you can directly link them to the master sheet for easy access, and eliminate the struggle of sifting through countless folders. It’s also the perfect tool to track all financial information like application fees, scholarships, grants and financial aid deadlines. You can also use it to store all contact details of important individuals like professors and admission officers, all in one place. Plus, if you’re working directly with any mentors, you can easily share the document with them, allowing for seamless communication!

Tailor each letter of intent to the specific program

A crucial piece of advice I received directly from a professor, who has spent years guiding students through the application process, was to avoid using the same letter of intent template for every application. While it may be tempting to simply replace the university's name and submit the same letter, this approach undermines the essence of the application process. Each university and program is unique, offering distinct opportunities and resources. Crafting a personalized letter of intent demonstrates your genuine interest in the program. It’s also very obvious to admission officers if you’ve done so. Take the time to research each program thoroughly and tailor your letter accordingly, highlighting specific aspects that resonate with your academic and professional goals!

Approach professors thoughtfully

When requesting a letter of recommendation from a professor, it's important to approach the process with professionalism and respect. While it's common practice to provide guidance on the qualities you'd like them to highlight, avoid the temptation to draft a word-for-word letter for them to simply submit on your behalf. This practice can be perceived as presumptuous and may even backfire, as professors may disregard such letters. Instead, trust in the expertise and judgment of your professors and provide them with the necessary context and information to craft a personalized recommendation on your behalf. Save yourself the embarrassment!

Don’t feel as if you’re a burden when asking for a recommendation

The idea of reaching out to professors who I hadn’t seen for months evoked a lot of self-doubt and anxiety. In fact, getting over the anxiety of contacting them took me the most amount of time, out of all the other aspects of my application. However, it's important to recognize that professors are accustomed to such requests and are typically very supportive of their students' academic pursuits. When approaching them for recommendations, send a polite and concise email outlining your background, the courses you've taken with them in the past (to jog their memory), and why you believe their recommendation would strengthen your application. Remember that you are not imposing upon them! You’re actually seeking their professional insight and support.

The grad school application process can undoubtedly be intimidating and filled with uncertainty. Yet it's important to recognize that the act of facing these challenges head-on is what propels us forward towards our aspirations. Each application submitted, each recommendation requested, and each letter crafted is a step closer to realizing your academic and professional ambitions. Embrace the journey, knowing that the resilience and determination you demonstrate throughout this process will ultimately pave the way for your success!!!

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