Do you need a graduate school admissions consultant and to get accepted to your dream post-graduate program? Every student’s situation is unique, and every single one has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. But keep in mind that competition for grad programs in the US and Canada is fierce! Even though grad school acceptance rates for most programs are not as low as medical school acceptance rates or even law school acceptance rates, you should be aware that you are competing with thousands of other applicants, who have competitive standardized test scores, high GPAs, an impressive grad school CV, and stellar reference letters.
With such strong competition, how can you stand out? In this article, we will discuss how a graduate school admissions consultant can give you a competitive edge by guiding you through the application and interview processes, and how to find the best graduate school admissions consultant for you.
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How competitive is grad school and do I need a grad school admissions consultant?”
If you want to know how to get into grad school or how to find a postdoc, and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the admission statistics and tough application process, you’re not the only one. Graduate programs can be extremely competitive. On average, acceptance rates to graduate programs can be very selective and many students are not successful on the first time applying. This is why many students seek admissions help through graduate school admissions consultants and advisors.
It’s more difficult to calculate the overall acceptance rates of graduate programs since a lot depends on the discipline you are applying to. However, to put the competition in perspective let's review grad school admissions rates for some of the most well-known colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.
For example, Harvard’s grad school acceptance rate last year was at merely 7%. According to MIT, they admit just over 8% of graduate school applicants every year. The numbers are slightly higher in other schools, such as Yale, which sent out offers of acceptance to about 9% of their grad school applicants, and Dartmouth, which accepted about 12% of their applicants to M.S./PhD programs. These acceptance rate numbers are quite general, but they give you an idea of how competitive grad school admissions can be. As we already mentioned, acceptance rates often depend on the field you are pursuing, the size of the program, its prestige, and so on.
The lack of standardized application systems and criteria is another aspect that makes grad school admissions rates more challenging to calculate. As some of you might be aware, there are standardized medical school requirements that you submit through AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS, such as the MCAT score and activities sections. Similarly, there are some standard law school requirements that you submit via LSAC or OLSAS, such as the LSAT score and law school personal statement. But each graduate program has its own application process and requirements. True, there are some standard items most grad schools require, but the application review process and standards are more subjective when it comes to grad school admissions.
Each program has its own admissions criteria, which allows programs to find students who are the perfect fit for their program. Faculty members who are on the admissions committee board can directly influence who gets admitted and who gets rejected based on application and interview performance. For example, a professor can get directly involved in making sure that a student who has similar research interests gets accepted. This is mostly due to the fact that grad programs tend to be more intimate. Supervisors and students work closely together, which is why admissions committee members are interested in participating in the selection process directly and making sure that the right admissions choices are made.
One thing is clear: as a grad school applicant, you will be competing with tens of thousands of other candidates with rich academic and professional backgrounds. Your peers will be talented and accomplished individuals, just like you. So how can you stand out? How can you leave the admissions committees with no doubts that you must be accepted? Well, one option is an academic consultant. A graduate school admissions consultant may be the perfect opportunity to take your application and interview performance to the next level.
Interested in seeing more on how to write a grad school CV? Check out this video:
What is a graduate school admissions consultant?
First things first: you must be fully aware that a grad school consultant does not prepare your application for you. They do not write your graduate school statement of purpose or your CV, they do not sit the GRE for you, or gather your reference letters. The biggest value of grad school consultants lies in their insider knowledge of the admissions process and their ability to guide you to create the most outstanding application that represents you and your strengths. In short, they provide comprehensive grad school application help. How is this done?
1. Help finding the right grad school program
First of all, grad school advisors can help you choose the right schools for you. Many students make the mistake of applying to any and all schools or available programs they can find online without doing their research. They think that by applying to more schools, they increase their acceptance chances. But the key to successful applications is applying strategically. A grad school advisor can help you find schools where you will be a competitive and attractive candidate based on admissions statistics and your qualifications and unique strengths. For example, it will be a waste of your time and money to apply to Stanford's Political Science Ph.D. program if your GPA is way below 3.8. While you can get into grad school with a low GPA by compensating with very high GRE scores (Stanford's standards are typically 166+ verbal, 163+ quantitative, and 5.5 in the analytical section), your grades and scores should at least meet and ideally exceed the standards. A grad school consultant can help you weed out schools that may seem like your first choice at the time but are actually a waste of an application. They can also help you address any weaknesses in your application or below average scores with strategic application tools. For example, an admissions consultant can coach you on writing a grad school cover letter to address a low GPA.
2. Create your admissions narrative
They will also help you find schools where you can achieve your professional goals. Not only will they help you find these schools, but they will help you articulate why you are choosing these programs and what you can contribute to the academic or professional field you are pursuing. Creating an application that speaks for you is very difficult. In addition to all the paperwork you will have to do, such as ordering transcripts, sending emails, requesting grad school recommendation letters, and so on, your application components for each program must speak to why you would be the perfect candidate for them. This means that your statement of purpose, statement of intent, your research interest statement, and so on, must be of superb quality. A grad school admissions consultant can help you craft a narrative that will captivate the reader and get you that coveted interview invite.
3. Identify what makes you stand out
A good grad school advisor can help you identify events, skills, and experiences that will help you stand out. Many students are under the wrong impression that their experiences and background are not “interesting” enough. For many of us, it’s hard to be objective about our own experiences and qualities. A grad school advisor, as an independent and objective party, can help you identify the skills, qualities, and experiences that can make a great application narrative! For example, you might think that your years playing the violin in an amateur chamber orchestra has nothing to do with the architecture grad program you want to pursue – but you are wrong. Such amazing accomplishments and skills can only make you stand out to the admissions committee. They show your dedication, altruism, love of music, and many other great qualities. An admissions consultant can help you see what kind of skills and experiences in your life can be incorporated into your written application sections, such as your grad school career goals statement or graduate school resume, and how they can add another dimension to your candidacy.
Need graduate school statement of purpose tips? Take a look at this infographic:
4. Prep for admissions interviews
Furthermore, a grad school admissions consultant is invaluable when it comes to your interview prep. Not only will they help you prepare answer strategies for some of the hardest grad school interview questions, but they can truly help you develop life-long interview skills that will benefit you long after you graduate from your program. Professional behavior is an acquired skill, which is why learning it as early as possible is so important! Developing proper interview etiquette with an admissions consultant can help you be successful in any of the interviews you attend throughout your long, successful career.
What are the benefits of a graduate school admissions consulting service?
Based on the description of grad school admissions consultants we provide above, what should you expect if you hire one? And how can they help?
This is why learning from feedback and following a consultant's advice is so crucial. As you go through the admissions process, pause from time to time to consider how many valuable lessons and skills you are learning on this journey. We understand that your top priority is getting in but do enjoy and learn from the process as well.
Looking for some of the hardest grad school interview questions and our expert responses and tips? This video is for you:
How to find a grad school admissions consultant
Once you've decided if you need a grad school admissions consultant, you need to know how to find one. Not only find one, but find and choose the best one for your unique situation, skills and needs. There are an abundance of consulting services for grad school admissions out there, but not all are top-notch or can offer the services you want and need. Take the time to do your research, compare services, and thoroughly review available services before you commit to one. Here is a quick guide to finding a grad school admissions consultant:
Want more advice on how to get into grad school? This infographic will help:
Do you need a grad school admissions consultant? It is entirely up to you. You should be self-aware enough to analyze whether you can benefit from the help of a grad school advisor. Some students get into their chosen programs without professional help. However, if you think you can benefit from guidance and advice, then a grad school admissions consultant may be useful.
Some students sign up for professional help because they are concerned with one or more application requirements. For example, maybe they do not have the highest GPA or GRE score. Or maybe they know that their writing skills are not as strong as they need to be for creating a stellar application. Others may be concerned about how they come across in interviews, especially if they are video interviews. These are all understandable anxieties. And if you find yourself worrying whether you can get in and want to guarantee your acceptance, then hiring a grad school consultant might be just the right thing for you.
However, students who seem to have the perfect stats are also among our students. Having a great track record does not mean that you cannot make your application even better. Remember the admissions stats we include at the beginning of this article? Keep them in mind as you prepare for your applications. You are up against thousands of other candidates. So, it would make sense to do everything in your power to stand out and get in on your first attempt. We help lots of reapplicants, and they often mention that they wished they used consulting services on their first try. This way they would save their money and time, as well as avoid all the stress of rejection and reapplication.
However, the choice is ultimately up to you. Remember that we provide lots of free resources that you can use to create a stellar grad application and prepare for some of the hardest grad school interview questions, so make sure to use them. In these resources, we include the same information we provide in our one-on-one consultations. The only thing missing from these is our personalized feedback, but you should feel free to apply our proven strategies to your own application and interview prep!
1. What is a graduate school admissions consultant?
A grad school admissions consultant provides expert guidance on the graduate school admissions process and gives you feedback and help with your application. A grad school admissions consultant can help you stand out in your grad school applications, as well as in your admission interviews. Their ultimate role is to ensure that you get accepted to your chosen programs.
2. What kind of services should a graduate school admissions consultant provide?
Grad school admissions consultants should provide expert, personalized and one-on-one help and feedback. Admissions consultants can help you with deciding which programs or schools fit your qualifications and needs, brainstorm ideas for your admission essays and other application components, and practice your interview skills using mock interviews. Additionally, they should be able to help you with financial aid applications and any other questions you have about the application or admissions process.
3. Do I really need a consultant to get accepted?
Not everyone needs a consultant, but everyone could benefit from having one, especially if they are unsure about their chances of success, have any weaknesses in their application or are unsure about any part of the admissions process. Graduate school admissions consultants can also save you time and money on the costs of reapplying by increasing your chances of getting accepted the first time.
4. How competitive is grad school?
Some grad school programs are extremely competitive, particularly for rigorous programs such as medical school, law school and MBA programs. For example, according to Harvard's official webpage, they admit around 7% of their grad school applicants each year. This acceptance rate is less than the acceptance rates of some medical schools! Overall, graduate school acceptance rates at competitive programs are below 20%.
5. What kind of application components can a grad school advisor help with?
They can help you with any step in the application process and any application requirement, including a statement of purpose, any admissions essays, CV, references, interview prep or admissions test prep.
6. Can a grad school consultant help with interview prep?
Absolutely! They should help you via mock interviews, practice questions and personalized feedback.
7. Should graduate school reapplicants use admissions consulting services?
Using grad school admissions consulting services as a reapplicant can really boost your confidence and help you get accepted after unsuccessful attempts. Hiring an admissions consultant can also increase your chances of getting into a competitive program.
8. What are the benefits of using a graduate school admissions consultant?
There are many benefits, including guidance, insider knowledge, personalized feedback for improvement, and the development of life-long skills that you will use long after graduating from your chosen program.
9. Can a grad school admissions consultant help me with admission test prep?
Absolutely! Graduate school admissions consultants can help you with study help or devising strategies for acing any graduate school admissions test, including the MCAT, CASPer, LSAT, GMAT or GRE.
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