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Tips & Advice

At Sibia Admissions, we offer you a wealth of information, starting with answers to some basic and common questions we receive, which are outlined below. 

How can I learn more about graduate school programs to determine which universities will support my research interests?

The most direct and valuable way to learn more about different graduate school programs is to contact current students and faculty members, particularly those who share your research interests. You can do this simply by exploring the school and the department’s Web sites, where faculty profiles, publications, and research areas are listed.

Once you target potential supervisors, should you gain admission and enroll in the program, you should not hesitate to contact them respectfully about your interest in the program. Usually, these professors will welcome your questions and are more than happy to provide you with more information regarding their own work and the department at large. Oftentimes, these are professors that you will mention in your statement of purpose to that school. Then, when you submit your application, the admissions officers will know where to direct your application so that the right people are reviewing it.

What are the most important components of grad school applications?

Whether you are aiming for an MA or PhD, graduate school will require you to pursue independent research, which culminates in your master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. Therefore, admissions officers will not only want to ensure that you are capable of such intensive academic work, through your undergraduate record and, to a lesser degree, GRE score.

Moreover, through your admissions statement of purpose, you should clearly indicate your prospective areas of research interest. While these can certainly be changed once you enter the program and take courses in your field at the graduate level, the faculty members who review your application want to be sure that their department has a niche for you and your unique subject area. Will someone in the department be able to act as your supervisor? Is a current student in the program already pursuing a research interest too similar to your proposed idea? Therefore, be very clear and specific in your statement of purpose when you describe what you want to study in graduate school.

What are some characteristics I should consider when investigating target medical school programs?

Medical schools differ not only in program strength, but also in research emphasis, grading system, student body atmosphere, and so on. One thing you should definitely consider is whether you will seek extensive research opportunities as a med student. Learn more about the medical school’s research opportunities, funding support, and facilities; does the school flexibly allow students to take more than four years to earn the MD in order to set aside time for research?

Another factor to consider is whether the medical school employs a grade system or a pass/fail system. Which system would be more conducive to your learning style? Grade systems tend to foster a rather competitive environment among students, in which some individuals certainly do thrive, while other med school applicants may prefer a less cutthroat atmosphere among their peers.

What are the most important components of my application to medical school?

Medical school admissions officers critically evaluate all aspects of your candidacy, in addition to your academic performance and MCAT score, though these two components are certainly critical. In order to gain admission to a good medical school program, you should strive to earn high grades in at least your science course prerequisites, though performing well in all of your undergraduate coursework is certainly most desirable. As the MCAT is an examination of the knowledge that you possess, gained from such prerequisite courses, and that you will need as a basis in medical school, you should put in the time to study thoroughly for the exam and to perform to the best of your ability.

However, admissions officers for med school will also consider your extracurricular achievements. Extensive lab experience that demonstrates your commitment and contribution to a particular research project would certainly be helpful. Furthermore, your candidacy can be enhanced by your community service work and volunteer activities. Once you pass muster on all of these levels, then admissions officers will be willing to extend to you an invitation to be interviewed on campus.

I’m a working professional. Are there part-time MBA programs that would suit my schedule?

The most typical type of MBA program is the two-year, full-time program, which precludes working while you are enrolled in business school. For applicants who already possess relevant work experience, one-year, full-time programs are also available so that you are not out of the workforce for very long.

However, many professionals wish to continue working while they earn their MBA degree, perhaps even funded to enroll in business school by their companies. Such applicants can apply to part-time MBA programs and/or Executive MBA programs, as these options are less disruptive to your professional engagements and personal commitments.

What are the most important components of my application to business school?

While your GMAT score and grades will play a role in your business school applications, these admissions officers place more value upon your personal statements, which reveal the strength of your leadership skills, innovative thinking, and specific career goals. Likewise, strong letters of recommendation can go a long way toward demonstrating that you are a candidate who would excel in the academically rigorous business school environment and have the self-starter qualities to make good use of your MBA.

Therefore, it is imperative that you put much thought, time, and energy into crafting excellent personal statements for your business school applications. The personal statement prompts given on many applications will ask about your short-term and long-term career goals, why an MBA degree is necessary to attaining such goals, how you have handled previous challenges, and so on. Think carefully about the breadth of your experiences—academic, professional, and extracurricular—to prevent yourself as a mature, well-rounded, disciplined and self-motivated candidate.

Uh-oh. My numbers are average. Does this mean I won’t get into law school?

Of course not! If you are confident that law school is right are you, you should definitely not let an average GPA and/or LSAT score deter you from your professional aspirations. While you should realistically assess your chances of admission to law school using the Grids, described in the previous question, there are certain factors that may alleviate less competitive numbers.

The longer it has been since you graduated from college, the less weight will be placed upon your undergraduate GPA. Instead, admissions officers will also pay attention to what you have done since college. Did you earn another graduate degree and perform well academically in that program? Do you have distinctive professional experiences that set you apart from other applicants who have worked at law firms and may have better numbers? Can you demonstrate strong leadership skills and dedicated community involvement in some type of service? All of these factors can help to mitigate the potential damage of a low LSAT score and/or undergrad GPA.

What are the most important components of my application to law school?

Ultimately, law school admissions officers will put significant weight on your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA. This is evident from the Law School Admission Profile Grids, often available through university career service offices. The Grids anonymously list the previous year’s law school applicants by GPA, LSAT, schools to which they were admitted, and some additional basic data. This information gives you a fairly good idea of where you should apply in order to target a healthy range of law schools.

To be sure, law school admissions officers want to present their admissions process as more well-rounded, so there are letters of recommendation, the personal statement, and work experience (if applicable) to take into account. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the most heavily weighed components of your law school applications will be your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA.

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