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.
January 9, 2024
What Do You Actually Learn in Business School?
A current MBA candidate at Harvard Business School provides an inside look at what you actually learn in business school.
April 14, 2023
How to Break the Cycle of Performance Anxiety
Everyone has experienced anxiety. Often, it comes on the verge of important events: job interviews, art shows, performance evaluations, etc. Here is how to break the cycle of anxiety to present your best self.
May 4, 2023
Why ChatGPT Can’t Write Your Personal Statement
While ChatGPT is multifaceted, there is a compelling argument against using AI for your personal statements. Here is one expert's take on the revolutionary technology and application essays.
January 31, 2024
How to Break Into Venture Capital: The Non-Traditional Route
The traditional route to VC is to come from a handful of top schools or have connections in the industry - here if your guide to the other routes, from an expert coach and VC investment associate.
May 5, 2023
What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Graduate School?
How much does your college GPA actually matter to graduate programs? How high of a GPA is "good enough"? A former Director of Stanford Graduate Admissions addresses the importance of GPAs to higher ed. degrees.
February 27, 2023
Craft a Powerful Essay for Stanford GSB: What Matters Most & Why?
Ben L., a GSB MBA, expert coach, and pro writer, outlines his top advice for nailing the challenging and broad Stanford essay prompt, to help you get into one of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world.
July 29, 2023
Moving Beyond Frameworks: The Secret to Excelling in Product Management Interviews
In the world of product management interviews, one commonly held belief is that mastering certain predefined frameworks is the key to success. Here's why an overreliance on these frameworks can actually be detrimental, and what to do instead.
January 9, 2024
The 5 Best Classes at Stanford's Graduate School of Business
An overview of the top 5 classes at GSB, from an expert coach and Stanford MBA.
May 12, 2023
Columbia School of Law: A Prestigious Institution for Legal Studies
Discover the excellence of legal education at Columbia School of Law, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
May 12, 2023
Northwestern Law School: A Leading Institution for Legal Studies
Discover why Northwestern Law School is considered a top choice for legal studies.
May 12, 2023
Constitutional Law Mastery: Tips for Effective Study and Practice
Discover the secrets to mastering constitutional law with our expert tips for effective study and practice.