Graduate Admissions Top Tips

Craft a Grad School Admissions Master Plan

A post by Dr. Kristen Willmott

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The graduate schools admissions cycle is in full swing! We hope you’ve had a chance to read about our October Graduate School Boot Camp! If you’re applying to a Masters, MBA, or doctoral program this fall, the deadlines are looming! Complete your essays in one weekend with Application Boot Camp! Many round 1 and 2 deadlines are in early fall!

In May, I talked about the need for a grad school testing and admissions master plan  for students applying to masters, MBA, or doctoral programs in the coming year. Guidance on this master plan and timeline is included in our graduate school admissions consulting packages, but if you’re seeking insider tips on how you can craft, refine, sort, manage, and assess a master plan –I have some tips for you as you move to create YOUR master plan. Bear in mind – I don’t mean a general master plan in your head! I mean a massive file that is sorted, inclusive, detailed, and manageable for you in the coming year+. It will take a lot of time to create, but having this information in one spot will save you TONS of time and heartache across the graduate school admissions process from start to acceptance.

So, what information should go into this file? Here’s my secret MASTER PLAN file layout for graduate school applicants –you need an entry for each program you’re targeting:

  1. Top 3 reasons you’re targeting the program
  2. Top 3 reasons the program is a perfect fit for you
  3. Ranking of programs in order of your preference to attend
  4. Ranking of programs in order of your acceptance odds (based on the school’s admit stats from the previous year)
  5. Your campus visit notes including notes on program offerings, faculty, students, campus, location, research, other opportunities, career tracks of recent graduates, etc.
  6. Admissions stats from previous admitted classes including testing and GPA averages
  7. Transcripts requested and sent
  8. Test scores requested and sent
  9. Letters of recommendation –who, when asked, how, date requested, date needed, preferred “fed topics” to be discussed, etc.
  10. Essay topics, word limits, content focus, layout, submission process required by the admissions website, etc.
  11. Resume or curriculum vitae, often different versions depending on program and school
  12. Writing samples
  13. Interview notes
  14. Campus contacts and alumni connections, including names, dates, and contact info
  15. Communications tracker with anyone who has an affiliation with the school
  16. Deadlines, ideal time to submit, actual dates of submission confirmations received, etc.

I know —it’s a long list! You’ll need a software program or platform that you’re comfortable with, that you can (and will frequently) update, and that is capable of storing and saving all of the above information in a way that lets you review, retrieve, and reflect on it quickly and accurately.

Most of the students I work with use Microsoft Excel. This program is great because you can create MANY worksheet tabs, one for each school if desired, and have a TON of key information in one file. My students use their Excel files on multiple devices using the Excel app (computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.) and we can easily send the file back and forth when I have updates –and when they have updates. Most everyone has Microsoft Office on their computers, so Excel is great choice for a MASTER PLAN file.

But, let’s say you like Excel, though you don’t love it; another option is the Nozbe app. Nozbe is a time management and productivity tool that runs on offline desktop, web, iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms. The app lets it users manage their time and keep their projects in sync. As their website confirms, users can: Create as many projects for your tasks as you’d like. Share them with people on your team. Design your productivity system to fit your personal and specific needs, etc.

I like this recent Yahoo review on Nozbe from last month. It’s worth a read.

So, how’s your grad school testing and admissions MASTER PLAN coming along? Tell me what software/apps/platforms you use to track your grad school application components and deadlines!

Saying about goals

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