How Do I Improve My Grad School Application?

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Andrew James
  • Published October 10, 2022
  • Word count 1,075

Graduate school applications are trending upwards and have been for many years. With all this pressure to get into the right school, how can you ensure that your application stands out from the thousands of others that will cross the desks of the admissions team?


Here are a few things you should do to make your college application competitive:

  1. Follow the application directions

  2. Volunteer to gain experience

  3. Submit fantastic letters of recommendation

  4. Supplement your transcript

  5. Write (and rewrite) your essay

And no matter where you are in the application process, there’s still time to make a difference and build up your profile by following one or all these tips.

Follow the Application Directions

This one might be obvious, but admissions directors report that applicants often misread or skip the directions on the application, omitting vital information that automatically disqualifies them. Make sure you have all the statements, transcripts, and letters of recommendation that the school asks for and that you have given yourself enough time to retrieve this information. Plan to get the application in ahead of time by one week, not exactly by the deadline. This will give you a good cushion of time in case something goes wrong.

A good graduate student in any program will be mindful of details like this, so think of it as your first test that you are well-suited to the program.

Volunteer to Gain Valuable Grad School Experiences

Volunteering has so many benefits it’s no wonder so many people do it. A stint as a volunteer looks great on a college application, plus you’ll be helping your community and getting the satisfaction of knowing that you made a difference. The only tradeoff is that you’ll need to donate some of your free time. There are many websites that will help match you with great volunteer opportunities though. A quick Google search will connect you with some of these platforms, which are free to use and allow you to sort opportunities by duration, type of work, or even by favorite causes. Many projects can also be done virtually with no need to be on site, which opens even more opportunities. You can also find a project that will build marketable skills like graphic design or writing.

Once you have an idea of what you want to do, begin putting feelers out by searching online and mentioning to relatives. Whether you’re working with a local organization or something more remote, you’ll still be able to put this experience on your college application.

While you are volunteering, don’t forget that this is a networking opportunity as well. The contacts you make on volunteer projects can often be very helpful later in your career, so make sure to do meaningful work and make your contribution count.

Learn How to Get Good Grad School Recommendation Letters

If you have been out of school for a long time or have lost touch with your professors, look at the graduate school application process as an opportunity to reconnect with them. Professors love to hear from former students, and not just to write recommendation letters. You might send your professor an email with an article that might be of interest to him or her, or you could congratulate them on their recent success. This type of networking can feel uncomfortable for some, but it’s commonplace during the application process and can be helpful for both parties. Networking is a two way street and you may have some information or valuable connections that could help your professor as well. Make sure to reconnect with your professor on a personal note first, before making the request for a letter.

Once your contacts have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you for grad school, try to help them through the process if they’re having difficulty. Helping doesn’t have to entail rewriting every single word that’s written, but some helpful feedback can go a long way.

Have a Great Transcript

Make sure that you have great grades for the required courses in your undergraduate program before applying to a graduate program. If for some reason you feel like you’ve slipped in one of more classes that are prerequisites and really matter to your course of study, don’t lose hope. You can sign up for additional courses to show you’re still interested in the material, or volunteer to help a professor on some extracurricular work that shows that you’re still engaged.

If anything, graduate school admissions reviewers will appreciate that you dealt with some hardship and handled it with adversity.

Write a Great Graduate School Application Essay

Some applicants feel that they are not naturally gifted writers. Indeed, if you are applying to a program in the STEM fields, writing may not be your favorite thing to do.

But luckily the essay is one portion of your application that you can spend a lot of time perfecting. Many schools ask for the essay in the form of a personal statement. And that’s exactly what they’re expecting, something personal.

If your university has homework help opportunities or a tutoring program, you might consider bringing in your essay to get a second opinion. If those opportunities aren’t available, you can always share it with a family member and see what they say.

Outside readers can provide a fresh perspective and share what portions of your personal statement resonate, as well as what parts aren’t clear. Good writers will take that feedback and implement it into the next draft. It’s a process, so try not to be discouraged. There are also plenty of essay writing services online that can provide input which may help you get started.

Use Studybids for Writing Help

If you are applying to grad school and need some relief from your undergraduate courses, consider using Studybids. We’re the best student-to-student learning platform for students of higher education.

There has never been a service that alleviates the stress for U.S.-based graduate and undergraduate students like Studybids. With Studybids, students complete assignments for other students anonymously at competitive prices. For some, it’s a chance to make good money on the side. For others, it’s a great way to get some relief from the stress of assignments. Submit an assignment to start learning or sign up to do work and make some extra money today.

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