02 Jul Is it Realistic to Apply to XYZ University For Grad School?
Q: “I’m interested in going onto grad school. I want to get into a Top Ten graduate program, but how do I determine if I actually have a chance of getting in or if I’m wasting my time? Am I being realistic in thinking I can actually get into a top ranked program?”
A: Hmmm…. I’ve definitely heard this question a time or two. So you want to get into a top ranked graduate program? Why? That might seem like an odd question to ask, but is it just because it’s a “good” program? Is it a “good” program for you based on your own career goals?
How are you basing your likelihood of getting into a graduate program? Average GRE scores? Average GPA? Number of admitted applicants? Top ranked graduate programs get lots and lots and lots of applications every year from students who apply just because they are “good” programs according to some ranking list. These students may have perfect GPAs and GRE scores. And yes, they may still get a rejection letter.
Let me be very clear here: GPAs and GRE scores aren’t sole determinants of what gets someone into graduate school. They are probably not even the most important factor. Fretting over a B instead of an A on your transcript or retaking the GRE to gain an additional 20 points is likely not your biggest hurdle to overcome.
What does matter most in the graduate admissions process is fit. Essentially, “fit” is an approximation of how closely your interests align with an identified faculty member. If you want to study bilingual language development, make sure there is a faculty member that studies the same (or similar) topic. Develop a compelling case for how your interest complements Professor X’s (your future faculty mentor) established body of work. (Hint: This “compelling case” is also an essential piece of the statement of purpose!).
It is not uncommon for graduate programs to receive 500 applicants per yearly cycle. Of these applicants, 4 or 5 may be admitted to the program. These may seem like dismal statistics from the outside looking in. As a matter of fact, a lot of students freak out when reading these numbers, and automatically psych themselves out that they won’t get admitted to a graduate program. However, students who beat the odds possess the know-how on leveraging fit into an acceptance letter.
Whether or not it is realistic to get into XYZ Prestigious University has everything to do with experience and fit rather than objective criteria, such as published GPAs, GRE scores, or program rankings.