Welcome to Day Three in recent NDNU graduate Jonathan Gonzales’ series, Applying to Grad School. This installment, which covers writing the essay, letters of recommendation, and final tips, is the last in the series. Thank you Jon for your research, reflections, and insights!
Letters of recommendation:
All graduate programs require at least 3 letters of recommendation. When I applied to graduate school I was advised to have two former professors and one work related reference. The idea is to have a reference that knows you well enough to brag about who you were as a student. I was also advised to not have someone write a letter of recommendation who doesn’t like me, for obvious reasons, but believe it or not some references do write bad letters of recommendation. You want to have every advantage you can when applying because each program is very competitive. Having three good letters of recommendation can increase your chances at acceptance significantly. Most applications are completed before the deadlines, but are still missing the letters of recommendation. It’s recommended to keep in contact with the references and give them a deadline before the application is due to complete the letters on time.
Writing the essay:
In my opinion, the hardest part of the application process. There are two types of essays that need to be written. A statement of purpose is one of the two types of essays, which is a paper that requires your personal reasons for graduate study. An autobiographical paper is the second that describes who you are and what life experiences you have. Depending on which program and school you decide they will require one of these two essays. Every school and program has directions for you to follow and will provide a format for the essay. My advice is to get a jump on this. I love to write, but for me writing 10 pages about myself was a very difficult task. Make sure to have this essay proof read multiple times before you finally submit it.
Applying for graduate school can be a challenging and time consuming process. However, the feeling of accomplishment will supersede all those feelings. My advice for you is to stay on top of everything. Get a jump on the essay, it takes time and the sooner you get it done the better it is. Everything that I have added in this paper is from my own personal experience applying to grad school and the research from the 3 options I gave you. I wrote down every date and every deadline. When I attended the informational meetings I asked questions about the application process and maintained email contact with program coordinators. Ask the references early and give them an early deadline because they usually will have to submit the letters themselves. The application process was a good experience for me. When you hit that submit button you will feel relieved, but anxious to find out if you are accepted.