How Do the Applications for Undergrad and Graduate School Differ?

There are few things more stressful than applying to college or grad school, and it can be difficult to know what schools want out of the application process. While there are some of the same materials required for both grad school and an undergraduate degree program, there are a number of differences too. Understanding those differences and being able to present the best version of yourself within the boundaries of the application are the keys to getting into the school you want to attend. If you’re a student getting ready to apply to a degree program, read on to learn more about how the applications for undergraduate and graduate school differ.

How should you prepare to apply to college?

The best preparation for a college application starts as soon as you begin your high school career. Focusing on challenging classes that interest you and identifying hobbies that you’re passionate about is essential. Don’t focus on joining every club, but find a few activities that you can dedicate time and energy to. You want your application to show that you have a point of view about the world and a plan for what you want to do with your life, and that requires more than just a high SAT score. Many schools are even doing away with the SAT requirement.

It’s essential that you put effort into creating a well-rounded and unique college application, but one of the best ways to get an edge is to work with a professional college admissions counselor. College admissions professionals understand how applications work, what schools are looking for from top applicants, and how to translate your experiences and qualifications into a detailed and polished college application.

What do you need to apply to graduate school?

You’ll need some of the application materials you needed for your undergraduate application to apply to grad school. Academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and some form of admissions essay are fairly standard. However, the message you’re trying to communicate to a grad school is different than what you wanted to convey applying to a bachelor’s degree program. No matter what type of program you apply to, they’ll want you to clearly demonstrate what you learned in college and how you plan to apply it to your studies as a graduate student.

Make sure you look into what the degree you want requires. While most business programs request a GMAT score, for example, you can still find schools to attend even if you haven’t taken the exam. Search “best online MBA no GMAT” and do some research before you sign up for a test you don’t need. Getting an MBA online can also be much more accessible for a wider variety of students, many of whom are working full time jobs while making progress towards their degree.

If you’re applying to a graduate program in the fine arts, the application process is likely to be quite different. Many programs for the arts don’t require standardized testing at all, and your primary criteria for admission will be some type of portfolio. Leave yourself plenty of time to edit, revise, and rewrite so you can catch any mistakes and feel comfortable with the quality of your work when you submit your application.

The application materials you’ll need when applying to graduate school can be similar to those you used applying to undergrad, but the processes and what they’re designed to evaluate couldn’t be more different. While college focuses on acquiring knowledge, most graduate programs want to know what you plan to do with what you’ve learned, and how you can use their resources to further your academic studies. Specifics often differ from program to program, so make sure you keep track of exactly what you need for each application. While there are some similarities between undergraduate and grad school applications, it’s important to demonstrate the progress you’ve made since before you started college if you want to take the next step in your academic career.

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