There are some simple rules that can helps you prepare a winning application and then stand out during the admission process. In this webinar, Dr. Don Martin, former Dean of Admissions at Chicago Booth School of Business, Columbia University, Northwestern University, and Wheaton College, shares some time-tested application tips for future graduate students.

Dr. Don is the founder of Grad School Road Map. Thanks to his over 29 years’ rich experience in coaching students, he has helped more than 850 prospective graduate students, with a 97% acceptance rate.

The biggest mistake

The biggest mistake prospective students make is not doing adequate research before they apply. “This is a consistent mistake that many prospective students make, and it’s sad because it can make a huge difference in your experience as a student,” Dr. Don says.

Instead, a great deal of emphasis is placed on two elements: word of mouth and rankings. While those two are useful, if they are the only factors you consider before applying, you are short-changing yourself dramatically. “In my 43 years of doing this work, I’m yet to find statistical reliable evidence that the rank of the business school spells your ultimate success in your career,” Dr. Don says.

You can avoid making this mistake by:

  • spreading your net wide.
  • creating a spreadsheet with schools that interest you.
  • doing some genuine comparison shopping.

Dr. Don points out that there are many free resources available to you, so why limit yourself to only a few?

Seven key application tips

Dr. Don then proceeded provide some application advice. These tips may sound simplistic, yet many applicants don’t follow them.

Be yourself

Admissions officers may be guilty of doing applicants a disservice by creating the impression that they (the applicants) need to be superman or superwoman. That can’t be farther from the truth. Admissions officers are not psychologists, but they can sense when someone is not authentic.

Consider rankings, but only as one of many criteria

There are so many far more important criteria you should be looking at than a ranking. Do not waste your time obsessing about rankings.

Take word of mouth for what it is

If someone tells you that they had a great experience at a particular school, this doesn’t mean that you too will have a great experience there. You can consider opinions, but never forget that they are just that – opinions.

Do your homework

Most of those applicants who do research end up with a completely different list of schools to apply to than what they thought they had at the beginning.

The evaluation process is a two-way street

Yes, you are being evaluated as an applicant, but you should equally be evaluating them. How do they threat you? Are they welcoming? Pay attention to the small details!

Be calm and professional at all times

Whatever information you put on social media, make sure it’s absolutely professional. Also, if you participate in educational fairs or other similar events, it’s essential to put forward a professional and calm demeanor. Remember that every interaction leaves an impression.

Your ultimate success is about who you are

There are two qualities that make someone successful in life – persistence and determination. Your ultimate success doesn’t depend on your CV or on a diploma, but on your character.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Read instructions but don’t rush.
  • Apply when ready and don’t sacrifice quality for speed.
  • Evaluate the school and how it treats you.
  • Be assertive but not arrogant and argumentative.
  • Be confident but not conceited.
  • Be persistent but don’t be a pest.
  • Put your best foot forward but resist the temptation to embellish or lie.
  • Be yourself as opposed to being someone else.
  • Enjoy the process. It’s not a matter of life and death.

Watch the full webinar for a more detailed version of these admissions tips or listen to the very interesting Q/A session at the end. You can also take advantage of a free 30-minute consultation or read Grad School Road Map’s free articles.