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Avoid These Common Mistakes on Your Master's Application

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Aaron learning about master’s qualifications before getting a master’s degree

If you're interested in getting a master's degree, the first step is understanding the qualifications and application process. From studying for the GMAT or GRE, to gathering recommendations, and writing admissions essays, the process is time consuming and the master’s qualifications can seem overwhelming.

To make the most of your time and aid in the process, we have compiled a list of the six most common mistakes applicants make when applying so you can avoid them

1. Not throughly researching the program
The biggest mistake applicants make is not completely understanding the programs they're applying for and assuming programs with the same end degree are similar.  

Review these factors of each program you are considering:

  • Titles, industries, and salaries of alumni
  • Program curriculum
  • Cost of living and relocation expenses (to determine total investment)
  • The school's culture
  • Experience of faculty and cohort  

2. Not allocating enough time to apply
The application process has many steps that may require a significant amount of time. Plan to spend at least three months studying for the GMAT exam and another three months to finish and submit the application materials. 

3. Selecting the wrong people to write a recommendation
The people who write your letters of recommendation should know you well. Choose someone who works with you often over someone who doesn't know you well, even if the latter may be higher up in the company. As a courtesy, ask recommenders at least a month before the due date. 

4. Using the same essay for multiple applications
It is entirely possible that two of the graduate programs you apply to will have the same essay topic. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should submit the same essay.

It's important to personalize each application. Paint the picture of why this specific program at this specific school is a good fit for you. A tailored essay will also often include the name of the city, program, and university.

5. Spelling and grammatical errors
The admissions panel will immediately notice if you spell the name of their school or program wrong. Graduate programs require extensive writing. If you have spelling and grammatical errors the panel may assume you are not equipped to meet the writing demands of the program.

Ask a trusted colleague to review your materials before submitting.

6. Mention resume information in the essay
The admissions panel will already have access to your resume, so this information should not be duplicated in the application essay. Use the essay as an opportunity to explain who you are, what you've learned, or special projects that have impacted you. 

If you have the qualifications and want to start the process of getting a master's degree, a great way to narrow down potential programs is to determine the ROI of the program. If you avoid the common six mistakes and meet the master’s qualifications, you're that much closer to your dream program!