Things you can do to make yourself more attractive to grad schools

To get accepted into grad school, it is not sufficient to graduate with very good grades. Grad schools seek students with skills and knowledge that will help them be successful throughout grad school and in their future careers.

Most grad schools say they are looking for individuals who

  • can write clearly and precisely
  • can speak articulately and persuasively
  • can work well with others
  • can handle data effectively
  • have good research skills
  • show teaching skills or potential
  • have strong knowledge of the area of study
  • have broad general knowledge.

If you don't already have desirable skills and knowledge, look for opportunities to acquire them. Skills, unlike knowledge, cannot be acquired simply by understanding. Skills are acquired by practice, with feedback that tells you how well you're doing. Instead of avoiding classes that require those skills, seek them out, and press the instructor to provide you with usable feedback about your performance. Make use of the Student Center for Academic Achievement. They can help you improve your skills.

Grad schools are also seeking individuals with certain qualities:

  • motivated and hard-working
  • quick learning
  • the ability to think for yourself and to analyze and synthesize information
  • strong character and integrity
  • creative and original.

If you don't have these qualities it may be because you haven't pushed yourself to develop them. You can't develop the habit of working hard by taking it easyl. Thinking, analyzing, and synthesizing is hard mental labor. Initiative takes energy.

Prepare to market yourself. To begin preparing a resume, write down the skills and qualities you already possess, those you are acquiring, and those you still need. Apply newly acquired skills and knowledge in everyday life so they become a part of the real you. Collect your best work. Invent ways to demonstrate your competence to others. Grad schools require letters of recommendation. Your professors can write letters for you. Think of evidence of your skills and qualties that you can provide to people whom you will ask for letters of recommendation that will help them to write good letters.

If you want your own private practice, or to be an independent contractor, start early. Share your knowledge with others by working as a volunteer in various agencies, and by giving workshops where you work, at PTAs, at community meetings. Become known for your talent as a practitioner before you become a professional.

List of career-relevant skills that psychology majors can acquire

Student Center for Academic Achievement

How to get a good letter of recommendation.

Grad school information

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