Graduate School Services

Graduate school applications are radically different from professional school applications.

Virtually all graduate programs require one or more essays. These include:

  • a basic background essay, similar to a law school diversity essay;
  • one or more essays explaining your interest in this field as well as in this school; and
  • explanations of any weaknesses in your file, especially poor grades.

The Application Timeline

Like law schools, graduate programs tend to have only one application deadline each year, and only one application.  That application includes all the essays you will need for that school. The earliest deadlines each year are around Thanksgiving,and extend through as late as August for some schools.

Perhaps more importantly, graduate schools admit only a handful of people. Penn Law may admit over 200 people, but the Philosophy Department makes offers to a dozen Ph.D. students, expecting to enroll half that number. Because so few offers are made, it is crucial to apply early no matter when the deadline is officially.

Either when you apply or shortly thereafter, you must tell the school which faculty member you'd like to work under and on what topics. Therefore, vast hours of research about recently published work is essential. There's nothing worse that telling Dr. Jones you'd love to continue his work on Colonial New Orleans, only to find out that he's moved on to the Haitian Revolution.

The specificity of program details required by graduate schools guarantee that only the most organized and self-disciplined applicants will successfully meet the high standards each department presents.  We help keep you organized with spreadsheets and publication notes throughout the application process.    

The Interview

Virtually all graduate schools conduct personal interviews. Not everyone is interviewed; many applicants are weeded out before the interview stage is reached. It is also possible, but rare, that a person is admitted without an interview. It's safe to say that such people have already exhibited a good fit for their chosen field, either in an honors thesis or because the faculty mentor you've chosen is familiar with your undergraduate department.

The interview serves a multitude of purposes. It may be used to explore the applicant's motivation or to address weaknesses in the applicant's file. It may tell the interviewer whether you have the interpersonal skills necessary for the program you wish to enter. Interviews may also be used to verify that you are indeed the person who wrote your essays; writing skills, vocabulary level, and general presentation can all help the interviewer assess the likelihood that your essays are truly yours.

Interviews can also help the school to evaluate your fit with the mentor you've chosen. Horror stories abound of grad students who never finish because of disagreements with their chosen mentor or committee.

Finding the right level of knowledgeableness and deference can be challenging. That's why we believe that interview training is an essential part of completing your graduate or professional application. We expect to spend 4 two-hour sessions preparing you for interviews

  • In the first session, we discuss potential topics of inquiry and the suggested directions for your answers.
  • In the second session, we role-play the interview, critiquing each answer as it is made, to suggest ways to improve.
  • The third session is your chance to incorporate those suggestions into your answers in an additional role-play situation.
  • The fourth (and hopefully final) session is a full "dress rehearsal," allowing you to become comfortable in your interview clothes as well as in your interview voice.

Where to Apply

In addition to these differences in the application process, the process of choosing graduate schools is controlled by factors very different from those in the law school process. Residency may be important, or it may be ignored. Ethnic diversity takes on ever more weight as students prefer to work with teachers whom they trust (rightly or not) to understand their concerns, fears, and motivations. Showing your background and insight into its role in your development can play an important part in the graduate application process.

Test Scores

Surprisingly, grades and GRE or other scores are often less important than are the corresponding numbers to professional schools. The effect of US News rankings is diluted by the desire to work with a particular person.  This allows the applicant to consider a much broader range of schools than a law applicant can.  

Graduate schools place the least emphasis on standardized test scores. Grades in your chosen area of study, well-stated reasons for wanting to study in that program, and solid recommendations play a far greater role in the admission decision.

Fees and Schedule

Applicants to business programs may choose to work with us for any of the three components of a business school application.Fees for each component are:  

Step 1: Application review and personal statement.  Fee: $1000 plus $200 per school with a new essay topic.

Step 2:  Choice of Schools -- includes building a data base, discussing each school, and suggesting further research.  Fee:   $1000

Step 3:  Interviews:  Includes up to 16 hours of interview preparation -- 8 hours of general  prep before the first interview and more as needed for individual schools. Fee:   $1,500


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