Diane Jackson '17
earning MA in Communication
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- Applying to graduate programs was comparable to a heavy course load, so manage your time wisely and schedule classes accordingly the first semester of your senior year. If you are expected to submit a writing sample, you should take your thesis class your first semester of your senior year so that you can submit your super impressive undergraduate thesis for your app. Additionally, plan ahead when preparing for your standardized test and check it off of the list as early as possible!
- The most important piece of advice that I have is to talk to others who have completed similar programs--it is a lot to juggle and they have sage-like wisdom. My advisor, specifically, and the rest of the professors in my major were invaluable to my experience of learning more about and applying to graduate schools.
- Make a list of priorities that are most important to you when considering programs. For instance, I focused on the reputation of the program, the assistantship offer, the culture of the cohorts, and the program's research opportunities.
- Narrow down your search to 3-5 schools, and keep a list of all of the admissions materials that each school requires, fees, and deadlines. This is a lifesaver to keep yourself organized.
- Visit the programs in which you are most interested! I visited three of the four schools that I applied to and it was a huge advantage. Not only I was able to maintain relationships with students and professors in the programs so that I could ask them questions about their programs when they arose, but I know that my application was recognized by individuals on the admissions committee. Making the trek to a program you are interested in demonstrates how seriously you are considering the program.
- Make sure that you ask recommenders as early as possible about writing a recommendation for you. I kept a list for them of each program I was applying to, the URL/process for completing a reference for each program, the deadline for each program, and a copy of my resume and personal statement so that they could see what I was emphasizing in my application and do the same. Also, don't forget to nicely remind your recommenders when the deadlines are nearing. Anything that you can do for your recommenders to make their jobs easier is going to help you in the long run.
- Do your research on professors who have colleagues affiliated with institutions to which you are applying or who attended the programs to which you are applying. A really great way to make your application stand out is by asking individuals who have degrees from or relationships with the schools to recommend you to the programs.
- Write your recommenders thank you notes after they finish the references!
- Ask either your advisor or a trusted professor/mentor to help you in writing your personal statement. This is one of the most important pieces of your application and trying to describe yourself in less than 300 words is one of the most difficult things that you can do.