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How to get noticed by grad schools

How to get noticed by grad schools



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Graduate programs at the University of Utah didn't see as big of an increase in applications this year as they did last year, but Graduate Admissions Associate Director Su-Ann Johansen says this year's jump was still big.

"We still saw an increase of 5.7 percent in applications, and we still had an increase of 3.6 percent in admitted students," she says.


Colleges are trying to find students who will be more likely to succeed in their programs and less likely to drop out.

Compare that to the numbers from July of 2008 to June of 2009. Johansen says they had a 15 percent increase in applications and a 12 percent spike in admissions then. Those are just domestic admissions that don't include the S.J. Quinney College of Law or the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Competition is high, and it is slightly trickier to get accepted. So, what does it take for graduate school applicants to stand out?

University of Utah Graduate School Dean Chuck Wight participates in the Council of Graduate Schools and says most universities are looking for the same things. He says there are two main things colleges are weighing when they consider each applicant. First, they're trying to find students that will be more likely to succeed in their programs and less likely to drop out. How do they determine that?

The right recommendations

While every graduate school requires recommendations for admission, what should the requirements say? Wight says colleges are looking for recommendations that say you'll be successful in your chosen industry. They add these recommendations to your past scholastic successes to determine how well they think you will do.

They're looking for future teachers

"The other part is having graduates of our graduate programs who will go out into the workplace and work as faculty at other institutions who really reflect positively on our own institution," Wight says.

He says this could vary depending on the major. According to him, students in social sciences or humanities are more likely to enter the education profession anyway, while science and engineering students are more likely to get industry or government jobs.

Don't attend the same school

When it comes to where their undergraduates come from, the bulk of the U of U student body lives within commuting distance. But when considering students for graduate school, officials consider applications from a national and international pool. In fact, if you got your bachelor's degree from the U, Wight says you should do your graduate work at another school.

"When our own undergraduates come to us as faculty members and ask about graduate schools, most faculty in most departments will advise students to go somewhere else," he says.

This is to help students gain a different perspective.

"That diversity of thought is really valuable in terms of growing as a person and growing as a teacher," Wight explains.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

Paul Nelson

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