Will You Stand Out?

Dear Reader,

When was the last time that you had an interview for work or school? I’m applying for graduate schools now and just completed a preliminary interview today. The process of applying to work or a school can be both exciting and incredibly stressful.

When applying for an opportunity, you are essentially committing your potential future down one concrete path. If you are only applying to one place and know that you have a good shot at acceptance, this can be a very exciting experience! However, in life, this high degree of certainty is not usually guaranteed.

I have applied to several schools and have perused university websites to understand the programs and get a feel for student life. The school search and application process has left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am excited to see the many directions that my future can take. On the other hand, I am starting to feel attached to some of my potential futures and worried that I will get rejected to my “dream schools.”

Waiting for my interview!

The graduate application process can be emotional. All schools ask you what value you can bring to their program and about your plans for your graduate studies. This is a process of introspection. For each of my chosen schools I am compelled to not only learn about the programs, but also see myself in these programs. I am a pretty intense person, Dear Reader. “Seeing myself” in one of these programs is a mild form of emotional attachment. Now, my potential futures at these schools are more personal.

My interview today went well overall. My student interviewer and I had similar interests and we had a decent conversation together. The application/ interview process is almost like a professional flirtation. I always must make sure to play up my interest in the school. Every school is unique and special and I have to make sure to give the school the attention it deserves. The interviewer is unique and special. If the interviewer offers you any personal information, it is important that you receive it with genuine interest. You, the applicant, are also unique and special and it is important that the school you apply to can see that!

At the end of the day, the application process is a sort of skill. Can you convey your background fluently with attention to grammar and audience? Can write about your interests with grace, detail, and nuance? Are you able to provide examples and personal anecdotes to support your claims? You are a very human person, and trying to fit yourself into a few lifeless pages can be challenging. While applications can be difficult, Dear Reader, there is only one you, which makes you uniquely qualified and well positioned to stand out.



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