Preparing for graduate school admission success

Preparing for graduate school admissions can be very frustrating even for students with a good academic record. The process of collecting and submitting the right documents can be time consuming, costly, and tedious for all. Often, students must face admission rejection even if all the documents are submitted properly and on time. Therefore, it is extremely important to know what steps to take to make the process of admission easier and successful for all students.

Important things to remember when applying for graduate school admission

Before initiating the application process, it is important to focus on a few important elements in advance. Each of these elements is described below in detail.

Deciding on the course to pursue

Before beginning the application process, it is extremely important for students to determine which course they want to study. As technology and science are advancing rapidly, there has been a significant increase in the variety of courses offered to students in these areas. For example, in the past, students only had the option of choosing Master’s in Computer Sciences, but today they have a lot more variety. Students can choose to study Master’s of Science in Artificial Intelligence or Master’s of Science in Robotics and Autonomic Systems, for example. So, based on the student’s interest and preferences, it is important to select the right degree.

Determining the format and mode of study

The next thing students should check is the mode of education. Applicants can either choose to become a full-time student or a part-time student. Full-time students can take more courses and electives per semester and finish their degree in a normal duration of three to four years. Students who select a part-time format take fewer courses per semester and so their degree completion can take longer.

Historically, students only had the option of pursuing on-campus classes with limited flexibility via a hybrid mode for certain courses. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, students today can pursue on-campus, hybrid, and online education. The addition of the online mode of education has made it extremely easy to take classes from home or while doing a full-time or part-time job.

Students planning to enroll in either a STEM or non-STEM field can benefit from the online mode of education. For example, the University of Indianapolis offers an online nurse educator program that provides a unique opportunity for aspiring nurses to pursue their education with complete flexibility. The program includes eight consecutive semesters and equips students with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in nurse education.

Keeping a track of upcoming intakes

Oftentimes, students miss the chance to apply for a certain course because they missed the intake period. Some courses begin in summer, while others might begin in fall or winter. It is very important for students to know what the intake dates are for the course they are intending to apply for, because failure to apply at the right time delay an admission by a whole year.

Generally, communicating with the administration of universities as well as collecting and submitting documents can take a long time. So, it is advisable to start searching and applying for courses at least a year in advance. This enables students to be appropriately prepared when the university intake dates come around.

Fulfilling the admission criteria

When selecting the course, students must make sure to go over the admission criteria. They should only shortlist programs they can fulfill the basic admission requirements for. If there is any confusion, they should not hesitate to email or call the department heads or the university administration for clarification. However, they will have to be patient as they can take a long time to respond due to the high number of queries they receive on a regular basis.

Preparing travel documents

If studying abroad, students will need additional time to prepare for all the documents that allow them to travel and study in a foreign country. Students who do not already have a passport will need to apply for one, along with a student visa, and additional documents such as medical certificates, English language proficiency scores, and criminal clearance records.

Application process for advanced nursing degree courses

An MSN program is built upon the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Students with this degree are better equipped to function at higher levels because they have a greater grasp of research, theory, and clinical application. Graduating students are also prepared to work in interdisciplinary teams and provide evidence-based healthcare.

Each graduate will be qualified to work in an advanced practice context as a nurse, nurse administrator, or nurse educator. All aspiring advanced nursing degree course students must ensure that they have already completed their BSN degree from a reputable and accredited college. They must also possess a Registered Nurse (RN) license of their respective state prior to applying for a master’s level course. For example, if a nurse wishes to study and work in Texas, then they must possess a valid Texas RN license.

Generally, applicants will be required to send copies of their educational transcripts along with a page-long personal statement as well as two letters of recommendations that are taken from either their previous professors, program leaders, or colleagues. For candidates with a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, an official score on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) will not be necessary. For conditional admission, candidates with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.9 will need to provide a GRE or MAT score. Scores cannot be older than five years.

Once all of this has been submitted, the candidate can then start preparing for their interview, as the admission interview is as important as all the other documents that must be submitted. The interview is a chance to impress the educational institution through verbal communication with their representative. Through an interview, students get to talk to the other person, showcase their abilities and experiences, and explain why they are the best candidate for the course, highlighting future plans, goals, and aspirations.

Interview tips for a successful graduate school application 

Admissions committees are interested in learning more about students than what their application forms and test results can reveal. If an individual has a clear understanding of how their graduate work will prepare them for the job, it will be easier for the interviewer to judge their passion and devotion to the topic. They are searching for a strong ‘fit’ since graduate school requires working more closely with teachers and other students than in undergrad. They want to make certain that students can handle obstacles and thrive in their program while sharing the department’s and its faculty’s philosophies and research interests.

Students may improve their chances of acceptance by being the greatest version of themselves and captivating the interviewers with passion and talent. By expressing an interest and learning more about the program, prior student achievements, financial assistance possibilities, and opportunities to get engaged in the community of educators, applicants can determine whether the institution is ideal to help them achieve their objectives.

Applicants can follow the following tips to excel in their interview.

Leave a positive impression

A student should turn off their phone, be kind and courteous to everyone they encounter, and dress and behave professionally. They should also be aware of non-verbal cues like a handshake, eye contact, and body language.

Be ready

Students should thoroughly investigate the institution, the division, and the faculty, including their outputs, pursuits, and areas of expertise. Doing so will help them discover their areas of specialization and concentrations. Students should think about what makes the specific institute special and interesting to them? They should also prepare and rehearse responses to common questions. These frequently concentrate on ambitions, plans for using the graduate degree, and the contributions the student will make to their work.

Say ‘thank you’

Expressing willingness in joining the program again and thank the interviewers for their time is the best way to conclude. Students can demonstrate their ability to contribute by bringing up a subject of particular interest that was covered in the interview. 48 hours after the interview, they can also send a handwritten letter or a well-written email.

FAQs for graduate school admission interviews

When the interviewers question the student, the first thing they will ask is to know more about them. So, the most common questions they can ask to learn more about the student and their background could include:

  • Can you describe some of your greatest assets and shortcomings?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • What will be your biggest obstacles if you are accepted?
  • How are you going to pay for your education?

When assessing the reasons for your enrollment in a specific course, the interviewer could ask the following questions:

  • Why did you choose this program?
  • Why did you pick your profession?
  • How can this program help you reach your professional objectives?
  • What unique interests or areas of research do you have?
  • What other universities are you looking at?
  • What are your plans if you are not admitted to graduate school?

If the interviewer wants to learn more about what the student had achieved during their undergraduate studies, they could ask the following:

  • Can you outline any research initiatives you have undertaken?
  • What was the project’s goal and what part did you play in it?
  • How have your past encounters and education equipped you for graduate study in our program?

In addition to these questions, an interviewer could also ask whether the student has any questions for them. For this purpose, students should also prepare at least one to two questions for the interviewer too.

Components of a strong graduate school application

There are several components that make a strong graduate school application including letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and personal statements.

Letters of recommendation

In addition to transcripts and previous academic records, it is very important for students to send letters of recommendation when submitting documents for their admission. These letters can leave a great impression on the university. A major benefit of these letters is that they can sometimes be the main deciding factor between one candidate and another when the admission department of a university is evaluating and assessing student applications.

These letters can be from previous professors who taught the student during their bachelor’s degree, or from employers and peers whom the student has worked with professionally. The content of these letters aims to highlight the applicant’s abilities, accomplishments, and strengths. The more detailed they are, the better. To leave a great impression on the university’s admission department, it is advisable to not follow or copy a generic letter of recommendation template, and instead work on making it unique and descriptive.

Standardized test scores (if required)

A major component of a strong graduate school application are the standardized test scores such as GMAT, GRE, SAT, TOEFL, and IELTS, for example. All these tests prove a student’s aptitude as well as their ability to learn and perform to the standards set by a college or university. They also prove English language skills.

Personal statements

Personal statements are a crucial component of student admission into any field. Through personal statements, students get an opportunity to showcase their talents, highlight their achievements, and explain their future goals. They can tell the program leaders about their aspirations, motivations, and why they are interested in enrolling in a specific course. Personal statements allow students to introduce themselves in a semi-formal manner that can leave a great impact on a program leader if written properly.