Graduate Schoolgraduate admissions

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Going shopping: how to make your list of target PhD programs
You just won a shopping spree to your favorite clothing brand. Elated, you spend your Saturday trying on the entire store (if you hate shopping, stay with me). You try on a shirt. It looks decent. You try on another. Now that looks good on you. After trying on 100 items you like, you buy 15 you love. This is how generating your list of target PhD ...
Tips for virtual graduate school interviews
Congratulations! You successfully made it through your courses, submitted your graduate school application, got your references submitted, and completed the multitude of personal statements and the research experience essay. Time to think about one of the last and crucial stages of the graduate school application process: graduate school ...
How to write a personal statement if you’re changing fields
Your personal statement must answer the crucial question of any graduate school application: Why are you a perfect fit for a program? To demonstrate that fit, many students craft an academic arc that traces their undergraduate experiences to their current application. But what if your path is more jagged? After switching from an undergraduate ...
How to write a personal statement for doctoral/masters programs in the arts and sciences
Writing an academic personal statement for a doctoral or masters program in the arts and sciences is different than writing a college personal statement. Departments will assume that anyone interested enough to apply to graduate school (and spend, for a doctoral program, five to seven-plus years studying) is sufficiently enthusiastic about the ...
The draft-drain-refine approach for personal statements (and other writing)
When I worked at Boston Consulting Group, my teams often produced 300-slide presentations within a few weeks of a client engagement. BCG had a mantra for producing detailed analysis efficiently that I find useful for all forms of writing:
Overwhelmed by the graduate school application process? Here are five tips to help you get started.
Applying to graduate school can seem very overwhelming. When I decided to go back to school, I remember feeling slightly paralyzed by all of the work that I needed to do in order to submit a competitive application, and I wondered how I was going to get everything done while working full time. If you find yourself in a similar position, here are ...
Making your personal statement stand out in just the first two lines
A personal statement is the best (and sometimes only) chance you have to make your application jump off the page. Even if you have outstanding test scores, those scores alone do not guarantee you admission. Which brings us to the personal statement, your chance to show your readers how engaging you are, how you are a future leader in your field, ...
How to answer the 'Tell Me About Yourself' question during interviews
Whether you’re interviewing for graduate school or employment, you may fear being asked this open-ended question: “Tell me about yourself.” For many, this question invokes anxiety, as it’s too vague for there to be a “right way” to answer it. This can leave the interviewee scrambling to think of an impromptu good response. However, with some ...
How to “find your voice”
You will often hear writers talk about “finding their voice.” It sounds like a simple task, but honing one’s voice can take years of practice, study, and trial and error. When you are putting together your applications for college or graduate school, you are likely facing a fast-approaching deadline—so time is a luxury you don’t have.
5 tips for authentic interviewing
There’s something comical about reading articles that coach you on how to be yourself. If you Google “authentic interview tips,” you’ll find articles titled “How to Sound Authentic” and “How to Be Yourself,” which evoke truisms like Oscar Wilde’s “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” and Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true.” But what ...
How to write the statement of purpose for humanities and social science PhD programs
Sometimes also referred to as a personal statement or statement of objectives, this 1,000-2,000-word document is a key part of your application to PhD programs. The faculty reads hundreds of these essays, so, for their benefit and yours, keep your statement clear and simple. There are three essential questions that need to be answered in this ...
Finding patterns in exponent problems on the GRE Quantitative section
One thing about GRE quant questions and standardized test math questions more broadly: if a question seems impossible or like it will take a ridiculously long amount of time to complete… It isn’t as difficult as it seems! Let’s dive right into a practice problem to see an example. Take the following numeric entry problem:
Is getting a PhD in science or engineering right for me?
Before you apply to graduate school in science or engineering, it’s important to take a moment to ask yourself WHY. Many people apply to STEM grad programs because they were excellent students through their undergraduate education, not realizing that graduate school is a very different beast.
The grad school recommendations roadmap: everything you need to know
This blog post outlines key strategies, tips, and suggestions for ensuring you get a recommendation for graduate school that sets you apart. Before the Ask Plan Ahead Start thinking of whom you might want to ask to write your recommendations as far in advance as you can – at least six months, but preferably more. This timeline will give you plenty ...
Eight essential tips for the GRE mathematics section
I want to give you a few more GRE quant power tips. There are 8. (8 also happens to be my favorite number.  I like that it is so symmetric.  I like that when I push it over, it is the infinity sign or a pair of glasses or the two wheels of my bike).   Anyways…
How to decide if you should pursue a gap year before graduate school
It might be hard to imagine remaining a student after graduating from college, yet as the working field becomes more selective and applicants more experienced, advanced degrees are becoming increasingly popular. Although most students are confident in their decision to pursue graduate school, they often face uncertainty when deciding whether to ...
How to address your weaknesses in a high-sakes interview
The interview for any job or graduate school can be the gateway to success. Employers want to see potential in their applicants, and how we respond to interview questions reveals a lot about our creativity and ability to think on our feet. Common questions ask us to talk about ourselves, explain why we are pursuing our respective fields and ...
What no one told me about grad school: long-distance means far away
To say that I underestimated moving across the United States is an understatement. I grew up in a small-ish town in Southern California and went to college a short 50-minute drive away. I thought this meant that I had “moved out,” like a real adult. But I would soon learn that going to your childhood home every other weekend to do laundry doesn’t ...
Five elements of a killer graduate school essay
So you’ve taken the GRE/GMAT/TOEFL, got your recommendations lined up, and picked your list of top schools. Now comes the part some people get really nervous about: translating your story into a really powerful application essay that convinces the admissions committee that they just have to have you. Below are five key elements of a strong ...
How to ace interview weekend for PhD Biomedical Science programs
If you read my previous post, “What to expect during interview weekend for PhD Biomedical programs” you know exactly what you are in for during interview weekend. Now the question is, how do you prepare? You have two goals during interview weekend: 1) Convince the graduate students and faculty members that you would be an excellent fit for their ...
What to expect during interview weekend for PhD Biomedical programs
Congratulations! If you have been selected to interview at a Biomedical PhD program (e.g. Biology, Neuroscience, Biophysics) that means you were selected from a pile of hundreds of applicants. The program is willing to fly you in for interview weekend and take the time to show off its program and city. Let that act as a confidence booster, but you ...
Four tips for applying to economics graduate school
  So you’ve decided to get an advanced degree in economics. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to obtaining one of the most challenging and worthwhile degrees the world has to offer. While economics graduate programs are known for their mathematical rigor, you will be rewarded for your efforts with better job security, autonomy, and ...
Statement of purpose vs. personal statement: knowing the difference
If you’re applying to graduate school, then you might remember the headaches of that application process that you encountered many years ago. Maybe you struggled to decide on a topic for the personal statement, maybe you debated which extracurriculars were worth listing, or maybe you were torn between taking the ACT or SAT. But for all the ...
Acing the GRE essay, part I: ingredients of a great GRE issue essay
GRE students often approach the issue essay wondering, “I know what good writing was in college, but what does the GRE want from me?” The short answer is that ETS sums up scoring criteria in rubric form and shares sample essays that show exactly what they want. The better answer is that they want to test you on certain key elements of a successful ...
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