When I began working in the college setting, I began to become more familiar with the recruitment and application process. I would hold information sessions for prospective students who wanted to be in the program. They would all want to know what they could do to stand out among the many applications that flooded the admissions office. Aside from proofreading the personal statement for errors and submitting all documents on-time, there are other ways to make yourself shine.
No Interview? No problem. Many individuals, believe it or not, want to be interviewed. They feel that if they could talk to the admissions team, that they could win them over and be accepted. Many colleges do not interview, but they do request that you write a personal statement. Personal statements are your time to show the admissions committee why you should be chosen. This is where you discuss why you want to be accepted and where you feel your degree will take you.
Address your weaker areas. At times when applying, we might find that we are not as strong in one of the areas the admissions team factors in. For example, they might state that a certain GPA is needed yet your GPA is a bit lower than their mark. Use your personal statement to briefly address this issue. Talk about what you have been doing to address your lower GPA, such as meeting with a tutor or working with your adviser to improve your grades. The key is to let the admissions committee know that you realize there is a issue and you are doing all you can to improve it.
Letters of Reference. Like your personal statement, letters of reference are a way for the admissions team to get to know you more than just your academic transcripts. Many prospective students ask who should they have write their letters of recommendation. Aside from not asking a close friend or family member, ask someone who you feel knows you enough to write a recommendation that will help you shine. Just because someone is your academic adviser or professor, does not mean that they know you well enough to write a glowing recommendation about you. Think about who you feel would best be able to strengthen your application with their letter.
Experience. It never hurts to have some paid or volunteer experience in the area you hope to get your degree in. Having experience in that area helps you to get a good feel of what you would do for a career with that degree. After volunteering, some students changed their mind about wanting to work in that field. For others, it was a confirmation that this is what they want to do. For those who chose to continue in that area, you now have begun to network and build your resume. You have also made a connection with a supervisor who can perhaps write you a letter of recommendation.
The college application, be it for undergraduate or graduate school, can be stressful. Take the time to personally reflect on all that you have done and think about how to express yourself in writing in a way that fully shows all that you have done. Do not sell yourself short. This is time time to let others know about you, what you have accomplished, and what a degree will do for not only you but for the industry you are hoping to work in.