It’s not uncommon to start planning for grad school even while you are still pursuing an undergraduate programme. And there’s absolutely no rule in the book that says you can’t jump into post graduate school few months or weeks after your graduation. However, the average prospective grad student is often faced with the dilemma of requisite experience.
There’s the issue with whether or not the experience he has (if he has any at all) is relevant to the program he hopes to study; such that even when his experience passes the relevance test, he wants to be sure the institution he is applying to is ok with how long the experience he has is.
So the big question is: can an applicant with little or no experience get into a school that is big on experience? A million times yes! And we will be more than pleased to show you why we think so.
But before we let you in on why we think you shouldn’t let experience or the lack of it stop you from achieving your goals, it is important to note that if a school has listed “experience” as one of its application requirements, you won’t be exempted even if you submit a mind-blowing essay.
Often times, when schools sift through the tons of personal statements they receive, the focus is usually on how well the applicant is able to communicate his ability to thrive during the program he is applying for. And in a case, like the one we are helping you deal with now; where an applicant can’t prove this ability with a work record, he has to demonstrate it some way else.
So here are a few other ways to things when you are writing your personal statement:
Leadership skills, empathy, dedication, commitment to community, resourcefulness and communication skills are a few of the qualities most grad schools look out for during the selection process. So you need to take a trip down memory lane to find the things you may have been a part of that emphasized these skills.
Did you head a team? Or where you part of one? How did you achieve the results you achieved? What challenges did you have and how were you able to overcome them? Because the truth is the best of us is often revealed in how well we are able to deal with the worst experiences.
Do some experiences comes to mind already? Put a pen on a paper and bring them alive.
Oh yeah! What are your hobbies? Can you share a bit about your family life in relation to why you want to enrol in a grad school? What circumstances led to the grad school decision? These few things, if delivered well, have a potential of displaying who you are and the values you hold dear; which may be values that the school is looking out for.
Trust us, if grad schools had the luxury of time and space to admit everyone who has a Bachelor’s degree they will without a personal statement. But we know that you are already aware that schools look out for those students who really know where they want to be and how they hope to get there. We don’t mean to scare you, but grad school is not for the feeble-minded and by all means not easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This is why it is not ok to apply for a graduate program just because…
Just because what?
If it’s because your friends want to then you should just shoot yourself in the foot instead because that in itself spells peer pressure which no one needs in grad school.
If you wanted in as part of some job-seeking activity then you should put that in.
If you are deciding on grad school because you truly want to advance your knowledge in a particular area then you should be able to share your passion by explaining why the subject is interesting to you and why you need to pursue the degree at all. No, really, of the million and one subject areas, why this?
Even if you think you had an uneventful undergrad life, if you look in closely, you may find some things that say otherwise and will be useful in putting a good personal statement together. Was there a troublesome term-paper you had to write at some point? How did you get to submit it? What did you learn from the experience? Did you have extracurricular activities? Can you share them and how were you able to do them alongside your academic work? Anything on class or group projects? Field trips?
What did you do as an undergrad?
Don’t think so deeply to know what we mean by passion. Just answer the next question honestly and you would have identified your passion. What is that one thing you can do when you are idle or spend your time and resources to do without being paid a dime?
Identified it yet? That’s your passion! Now put that in your personal statement right away and get going.
Your reader is very likely human (or we think) ...lol. So, it won’t be nice to submit a statement that will bore them to their teeth or get them to nod off to la-la land. We suggest you throw in some wit, charm, and originality while you are putting your personal statement together. We also advice that in your bid to keep it lively, try not to sound too patronizing or make a sycophantic mess of your person. It never sits well with the reader or panel of readers.
Grad school is hard work; getting in isn’t a walk in the park either! So you should make every process count!