By Donald Martin, Author of Road Map for Graduate Study
- Your academic record is what it is. If it is not what you think will be a strong suit, explain if you need to but do not make excuses. That will make things worse.
- If you have taken a graduate course or two since graduating from college, talk about that. This is often a good idea if your undergrad GPA was not terribly good. It indicates that you are willing to take some courses to show what you are capable of now. In almost every case, applicants who do this do quite well on their coursework and make a positive impression with the admissions committee.
- Remember, the longer you have been out of college, the less closely your academic record will be evaluated. This is because there are more recent accomplishments or employment experiences that will be part of your application. You may have even earned a graduate degree or completed a significant amount of graduate level coursework. Let your more recent achievements shine. They will help balance a less than competitive undergraduate record. However, if you have not been out of college for very long and you have an academic record you believe is not very strong, please refer to letter “a” above. If admissions committees do their job well, you will not be automatically denied because one part of your application is less competitive, and certainly not if you have adequately addressed that issue with an explanation, not an excuse.
- Do not take your respective standardized test more than three times. Submitting scores from multiple test completions can cause the admissions committee to perceive you as desperate, obsessive, or both. You may simply be trying your level best to get the best score you can but, usually after three attempts, the results are not going to change that much. What you have demonstrated by taking the test at least more than once, or maybe twice more, is that you were trying to do your best to get a good score.
For 7 ways to get positively noticed as an applicant, 7 deadly sins for applicants, responding to the notification decision, and much more, go to Dr. Martin’s website and review his book Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students. The website address is www.gradschoolroadmap.com.