Graduate Admissions: Myths Busted! 

What you’ve heard about getting into grad school vs. the facts, from an expert Leland coach with almost 20 years of experience.

Debby C.

By Debby C.

Posted August 19, 2022

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people interested in graduate school is, “What are admissions committees looking for exactly?” In my almost 20 years of experience working in graduate admissions, I’ve realized that this information isn’t readily available anywhere. With that comes much misinformation, speculation, and hype about the review process that leads people to submit poor applications. To be clear, I’m not referring to applying with a poor academic record; I mean submitting an application that does not reflect your uniqueness, potential, strengths, and goals for graduate school and your career.

I’ve traveled worldwide and met with hundreds of prospective graduate school applicants. I often tell them that my job of reviewing applications alongside admissions committee members at Stanford could have been quick and easy. We could have spent a few days combing through applications and admitting those with perfect academic records and standardized test scores. But the process of reviewing applications took a few months. Why? Because grades alone will not guarantee your admission to most graduate school programs. They will get you noticed, but you have to show them more by submitting strong supporting documents.

Your statement of purpose, your resume, and your letters of recommendation are factors that can and will affect your admission to a graduate program. For example, your statement of purpose is meant for you to take the most important parts of your resume and present a clear picture of who you are related to your experiences and goals. It should showcase your problem-solving skills, how you connect theory to practice and how your academic and related experiences have shaped your reasons for applying to graduate school. Write about what you have to offer their department and clearly outline your learning and career goals.

Admissions committees are looking for ways to admit you. Yes, you read that correctly. They want to see how you will contribute to your field of study and the area once you graduate. What makes one student a good fit for a graduate program differs from what makes another student stand out. Ultimately, both students can be admitted to the program because their unique strengths contribute to the cohort's diversity.

The layers of experiences that you’ve gained over the years shape who you are becoming and the contributions you will make to a graduate program and career. It’s essential for you to showcase this in your applications. Share your ideas, thoughts, and questions in your statement of purpose. Give them a preview of the kind of graduate student you will be–how engaged you will be in class discussions, the clubs you will start, and the projects you will develop.

One of my strengths is working with clients who don’t feel confident about their potential for admission to graduate school. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and I make it my mission to help my students showcase their strengths... even if they can't see them at first. I can and I will show you how to communicate them clearly in your essays. I enjoy showing my clients what is possible and working with them to make their dreams a reality. Your GPA is not the sole deciding factor of admission; there are so many other layers to consider.

If you’re concerned that your GPA will hinder your admission or you need guidance on strengthening the other parts of your application, I’d love to work with you. Book a free intro call on my profile to get started. I am passionate about educational empowerment for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree and would love to help you get into your dream program.

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