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Re-Applying to Graduate Programs

Submitted by John Taborn May 7, 2018

As noted in last week’s blog about reapplying to medical school, deciding to reapply for graduate programs naturally brings mixed feelings.  You should be congratulated for the investment of time, effort, and expense that all applicants invest during the application process.  For those of you who are on waitlists for admission this cycle, there is still a possibility for matriculation this year.  Simultaneously, it is time for you to consider re-applying. Here are some things to consider: There are things beyond your control. It is common for applicants to reapply.  It is important to realize that each year, the number of students accepted to graduate programs may vary depending on a variety of matters.  In some departments a loss of funding from the department, school or institution can result in a reduction in the number of applicants who they can support in a PhD program.  Also, in any given year, the number of faculty who are available to take on new doctoral students may fluctuate.  Some faculty may have sabbaticals, take family or health leaves of absence, or even simply be overloaded with students. Ask Yourself:  What are the strengths and deficits in my application? Never reapply without addressing the problems within your previous application and interview.   Take ownership of the process and ask, “How can I improve my application in the future?”.  Often, admissions officers can give you one or two tidbits of information that can help you.  Dr. Bill Higgins, OITE’s Preprofessional Advisor, provided these additional tips to graduate school re-applicants:

  • Talk to Graduate Program Directors who have seen your application and ask for suggestions for improvement
  • Obtain suggestions from your PI about how to improve your application
  • Apply to a broader range of graduate programs that range in competitiveness and prestige
  • Obtain new letters of recommendation from PIs who know about your work and science
  • Address any grade or GRE scores
  • Make sure your stated research interests match the program’s foci
  • Get help with your personal statement from the OITE staff

Act to improve upon your application. Now that you have gathered feedback, honestly ask, “Can these problems be remedied effectively prior to reapplying or will I need more time?  Next set out to make any necessary improvements to your application.  Plan to attend the NIH Graduate and Professional School Fair on Wednesday July 18, 2018 and speak with representatives of over 160 graduate programs seeking applicants form NIH.  Feel free to make an appointment with a OITE career counselor and attend the workshops on applying to graduate school workshops and programs during the Fall and Winter of each application season.  

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