Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Learning From Graduate School Application Rejections

Yesterday a friend told me her daughter didn’t get accepted to a graduate program to which she had applied. This happened even though the daughter had made the first cut based on grades and standardized test scores and thus got an interview on campus.

I suggested to my friend that her daughter call the graduate program and ask what she could have done to have gotten an acceptance. In other words, what could she have improved that would have made the difference?

Was her essay not strong enough? Were her interviewing skills weak? Or were there just too many applicants with similar backgrounds to hers, and the graduate program wanted a more diverse student body?

My friend wasn’t sure that her daughter should try to find out why she hadn’t been accepted. After all, it’s one person’s reason. Maybe that person didn’t think highly of her daughter’s interviewing skills yet another person would think highly of the same skills.

Because I could see both sides of this question, I said that, if the daughter got into at least one of the other four graduate programs to which she applied, then there probably wasn’t a need to find out what she could have done to improve her admittance chances at the other schools.

But if the daughter didn’t get accepted into any of the four programs, she might consider checking with these schools before she begins applying to other graduate programs.

What do you think? When would it be a good idea to try to find out why you weren’t accepted somewhere? And when would it not be a good idea to try to do this?

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