Students enjoy a warm spring day on Bascom Hill near the Park Street pedestrian bridge at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Application process tips

Make your application stand out

First-rate graduate-level programs are competitive, so it’s critical that you make an impression at the admissions office. Here are five ways to separate your application from the pack.

  1. 1

    Follow instructions.You’d be surprised how many applicants write the essays they want to write, not the ones admissions officers request. Tailor your personal statement and essays to the questions asked, and show an awareness of the school’s mission.

  2. 2

    Show why you’re a great fit. Highlighting how you’re different from other applicants is smart, but illustrating how your unique qualities might further the school’s goals is smarter. Research each school and show how your personal experiences fit their vision.

  3. 3

    Ace entrance tests. Do everything you can to put your best foot forward, whether it’s hiring a tutor, taking a prep course, or simply getting enough rest before your exams. Strong test scores increase your chance of an acceptance letter.

  4. 4

    Screen your references. Do your references know you well? Are they prepared to talk up the strengths you’d like admissions officers to remember most? Consider preparing a short list of talking points that you’d like them to emphasize.

  5. 5

    Review your work. Reread every piece you intend to submit and consider having a colleague or mentor give you feedback. Root out awkward sentences and spelling errors and polish each application until it shines.

Still have questions?

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