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Applying to Grad School: Admissions Tips

Updated on March 3, 2013

The current economic situation can be quite frustrating for many people. A great number of people who were at one time earning significant money are now un- or under-employed. There are few great jobs available for these people in many parts of the country. What can be done in these unfortunate situations. Many Americans have made the choice to go back to school. A large number of these Americans who already have a bachelor's degree have decided to go back to school for a graduate degree. However, not all can qualify to get into grad school. What does it take to get into grad school?

A Grad School Administration Building
A Grad School Administration Building | Source

Get Good Grades

The first step toward getting into graduate school is an undergraduate degree. It is rare for students without a bachelor's degree to get into any graduate school. A solid C average will not do in graduate school admissions, either. Some of the weaker graduate schools will allow students with a 2.5 GPA into their programs. Most schools want students to have at least a 3.0. The best schools will want students to come with a GPA of at least 3.5. A 4.0 will look even better. With so many people looking to wait out the bad economy while improving their skills, a solid GPA is a must to stand out above all of the other would-be students.

Write a Strong Application Essay

Many grad schools will want students to write an application essay. This is another way for a particular department to get to know its applicants and why they want to come to the department. Some people will just go over the things that are already available from an application form and transcripts. The application letter is a great way to stand out. Applicant should really try to show why they are a good fit for School XYZ when writing the essay. Those with strong letters will get noticed. Students who have average letters are likely to find their applications in the circular file (otherwise known as a garbage can). Programs are more competitive than ever, so it is important to stand out--in a good way.

Graduation from Grad School Is a Great Achievement
Graduation from Grad School Is a Great Achievement | Source

Cultivate Relationships with Faculty Members

This aspect of applying to graduate school can easily be ignored. Most graduate programs will expect students to have previous faculty members write letters of recommendation for grad school applications. Like the application essay, the faculty recommendations can be a great way to stand out from the crowd. For this reason, it is important to get to know faculty members. Those who are more involved with a particular faculty member will be more memorable. Don't brown nose, but don't set in the back an never contribute to class, either. Faculty advisors can be great resources when it comes to writing letters of recommendation. Drop in with the faculty members that you anticipate using on a fairly regular office (once or twice a semester) so that they know who you are. Those who know your work the best will be in the best position to give a good recommendation.


Getting into graduate school is possibly more competitive now than it ever has been. Getting into the best possible school is an iffy situation. Those who follow a few easy steps can find themselves coming to the top of the pile of tens, if not hundreds, of applications for a small handful of open positions.


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