GVSU Career Center

Graduate School Application Process

The Personal Statement

Personal statements are an important component of the application process; make sure it sounds great!

Use the essay to:

  • Help the selection team better understand your distinctiveness and unique qualities.
  • Explain how you became interested in your field of study. Use objective experiences to communicate your message.
  • Demonstrate how your leadership skills, computer skills, or writing skills were developed.
  • Explain why you think you will be successful in graduate school.

Follow the directions and be sure to:

  • Utilize proof readers - stop by the Meijer Writing Center for a paper critique.
  • Answer specified questions.
  • Support your points with 2-3 specific examples.

Be sure NOT to:

  • Lie about your personal history
  • Ramble on about all of your activities from your resume
  • Use cliches or a lot of jargon

Letters of Recommendation

When obtaining letters of recommendation:

  • Ask for recommendations from professors who are familiar with you and your work.
  • Ask politely at least 4-6 weeks in advance of deadlines.
  • Provide your recommenders with the full names, titles and addresses of the people to whom the recommendation should be sent, along with addressed, stamped envelopes.
  • Follow up with your references to confirm that your recommendations have been sent prior to deadlines.
  • Provide an information sheet about yourself to those who agree to write letters of reference for you. This information allows your references to write accurate, supportive letters tailored for you and your goals, rather than canned, general letters.

The Interview

The graduate school interview is your opportunity to express your personal strengths and values to the university's representatives. Be sure to schedule an appointment with an advisor from the Career Center for a simulated interview to help you prepare for the questioning. 

Common questions asked during an interview:

  • What do you believe your greatest challenge will be if accepted into this program?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Describe the research project you've worked on. What was the purpose of the project, and what was your role in the project?
  • Why did you choose to apply to this program?
  • In what ways have your previous experiences prepared you for graduate study in our program?

Thank-you Notes

Be sure to send thank you notes to each member of the interview team and to the individuals who wrote your letters of recommendation as soon as possible.  Taking the time to show your appreciation can put you a step further in the graduate school application process.

Page last modified June 10, 2014