Acing the postgraduate application and interviewChen Wan Lim
Applying for a place in a postgraduate programme involves a few steps; amongst others writing an application essay or personal statement, research essay if the course is research based and possibly attending an interview session. The competition gets increasingly difficult especially for popular courses with popular schools due to limited spaces and overwhelming applications. It is therefore in the school’s favour to choose qualified candidates to produce quality alumni upon which the school could leverage on in the future. Here are some tips on how to write a winning postgraduate application and to ace the interview:
1. Do some background research
Always start with background research, knowing the school and most importantly knowing the application datelines. Different schools have different datelines and certain datelines even differ for certain courses for the same school. Get to know the requirement such as the need for referral letters, compulsory admission essays and possible interviews. It is imperative that all these information are noted to avoid last minute frantic rush to meet the dateline.
2. Referral letters
Chances are, you might need referral letters from a member of academia or from an employer for your graduate school application. The purpose of the referral letter is to provide substantiated evidence from an authorised person about your personal character and suitability in undertaking a postgraduate course. Be sure to select your referee properly and to state your intentions of applying for a masters’ degree programme to him or her clearly. You should also allow some time for the referee to write the letter and to have it prepared before the dateline. A tip is to select referees whom you have worked closely with and whom is able to write a letter which will speak well of your genuine intentions of pursuing a postgraduate course.
3. Personal statement
A personal statement is perhaps one of the most critical components of the entire application process as it introduces yourself and states why the admissions committee should consider you for a spot in their programme. Be sure to include the following:
- Provide evidence of your genuine intention of pursuing a masters’ degree and how an admission into the particular business school will help you achieve those goals;
- Be specific with your examples and avoid writing sweeping general statements;
- Elaborate on why the particular course suits you best in comparison with other alternatives;
- Demonstrate your motivation and capacity to succeed;
- Demonstrate how you will be a good programme ambassador for their institution after graduation;
- Be precise and concise as typical personal statements are around two pages long only and;
- Proofread to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors;
If possible, get a professional proofreading service provider to read through your personal statement to have it error-free. In addition, you can consult professional career advisers at your university (if you’re still an undergraduate) to have it read as well.
4. Displaying research interests
If you are applying for a research programme (as opposed to a taught programme) then you will need to include information about your research interests. Be sure to state the motivation of your research interest and proofs of those interests. Examples could be a specific issue constantly encountered during the course of your work in which you would like to search for a solution, or how to further develop an experimental thought process which has manage to solve a teething problem in your factory’s production line.
For certain courses, potential candidates might be called to attend an interview. This interview is almost similar to that of a normal job application interview with the aim of getting to know a prospective candidate more intimately. However, there are some differences such as when the course interviewer was to ask you to elaborate about yourself, they are interested in knowing your passion about the field of study you are applying for and any professional experiences you might have in relation to that field. Also, when asked about your career goals, potential candidates will need to display how their ambitions will be met using the to-be-acquired skill sets offered in the postgraduate course that the candidate is applying for.
6. Supporting documents
Last and not least, potential candidates need to furnish the admissions committee with a whole list of supporting documents as required by the admissions board. This would include the certificates of your previous undergraduate degree, proof of English language proficiency e.g. IELTS or equivalent, GMAT or GRE certificates and other documents deemed relevant by the admissions team.
Get in touch with professional postgraduate advisers STUDYMASTERS.MY to get their assistance on how to put through a successful application.