There can be a lot of pressure when applying to grad school. An advanced degree may be a necessary part of some career paths, and graduate school admission is competitive. It doesn't have to be a scary process, though. Put your best self out there and follow these tips to stand out as a grad school applicant.

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Know the Requirements

First and foremost, it's important to understand the requirements of any graduate programs for which you're applying. Prospective students should make sure they meet these at the very least, though it's best to exceed them. While this may seem obvious, it can be easy to overlook this step in one's excitement to begin the path to an advanced degree. Some schools require a minimum GPA for admission. Specific programs might have prerequisite coursework. Meeting the minimums is essential.

Have Relevant Work Experience

Applying to grad school can frequently require having work experience related to the academic program being sought. Even an internship or practicum can count as real-world experience in the field and help someone to stand out from those who haven't had such opportunities.

Have Outstanding Reference Letters

Reference letters can go far when it comes to getting into grad school. Program committees are looking for stellar applicants for whom others can speak highly. These letters should be written by someone who knows the applicant well so they are able to convey the individual's best attributes and qualifications. The letter should be relevant to the graduate program, rather than simply listing the person's best general features.

Customize the Application

Each grad school application shouldn't be the same. Applicants should avoid the temptation to cut and paste. Instead, it's important to customize application components to meet the interests and specifications of the faculty and specializations for the individual program. Admission essays should contain information that paints the picture of someone who will thrive within the program, whose research interests mesh well with faculty and who has career goals best met by the program curriculum. Portfolio pieces should be chosen with these same sorts of criteria in mind. Let the faculty know why you would be a good fit for their specific program.

Be Authentic

Along these lines, it's important for students to be authentic to themselves if they wish to truly stand out from the crowd when trying to get into graduate school. Admission committees read many personal essays. They see a lot of repetition. Having unique goals and interests will help applicants to break free from the cookie cutter mold. In addition, these teams can spot a fake. Saying just what they think faculty wants to hear will never get students as far as remaining authentic.

These are just a few tips to help graduate school applicants stand out from the crowd. When applying to grad school, individuals should always display their best criteria and characteristics, while maintaining true to themselves and demonstrating why it is they would be a good fit for a university or program.

Source: The Washington Post