As many prospective graduate students finalize their essays and applications for the January 1st and February 15th masters and PhD admissions deadlines, we suggest performing research on acceptance rates and incoming class profiles at targeted institutions. That means researching department websites, examining the number of applicants, admitted students, and number accepted to specific programs and specializations, etc. I help our students research targeted colleges and gather this data to have the utmost clarity on the graduate admissions environment.
It is imperative to be in-the-know about the graduate programs to which you are applying. Let’s say you are applying to Johns Hopkins this year. Note their plan to cut graduate student enrollment across departments by 25% over the next five years!
As Inside Higher Ed recently reported, Johns Hopkins’ “plan also emphasizes hiring junior faculty to replace retiring senior faculty – what it calls “leaning junior” – and advocates for a greater faculty emphasis on teaching undergraduate courses. Traditionally, Hopkins has hired many senior professors who already have made research and graduate education contributions to their fields. To compensate for that and the reduced number of graduate students available to teach undergraduate courses, Hopkins plans to hire more adjuncts with master’s degrees.”
Enrollment cuts mean lower acceptance rates and that’s something to factor in when you determine your list of targeted programs, “reach” programs, backup programs and more. This is the kind of information to be in-the-know about as you finalize your application strategy and list of targeted graduate schools.
What else should you research about the programs to which you are applying? What topics are faculty writing about? What new courses are they offering? What will be your first semester of coursework look like if accepted? How does it connect to your targeted academic, scholarly, and career pathways? What academic and field conferences has the campus hosted lately for graduate students? What in-house academic journals do they manage; are they accepting proposals and submissions?
Did you know that you could submit an article to be reviewed for publication in a graduate program’s in-house academic journal before applying for admission there? Here’s a great example –are you a student who is targeting a masters or doctoral degree from Penn State? Why not prepare a manuscript submission for their Journal of General Education: A Curricular Commons of the Humanities and Sciences? The journal is devoted to the ideas and ideals of scholarship that enlighten the understanding of curriculum that reaches beyond disciplinary and professional concentrations. The journal’s research, essays, forums and reviews engage academic communities and others in deliberations about general education experiments and innovation, as well as considerations of general education assessment, history, philosophy and theoretical perspective.
What other field-specific journals connect to YOUR academic interests and graduate school plans? Here’s a pretty lengthy list. How about any of these?
- Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
- Journal of Agricultural Research
- Journal of Cognitive Psychology
- Quarterly Journal of Mechanics & Applied Mathematics
- Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge & Management
Might you be able to prepare a submission to an academic journal in early 2014? Sounds like a good to-do list item for the upcoming holiday break (in addition to finalizing your graduate school application essays, of course)!