COMPONENTS of a GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICATION
- Applicant Information
- Admissions Statement
- Official Transcript(s), Academic Record
- Letters of Recommendation
- GRE (or other) Test Score
While graduate programs have (absolute) deadlines by which you must submit all materials, many have rolling admissions, which means that they consider and admit candidates as they receive their applications. Even those schools that do not have rolling admissions often give greater attention to applications received before the great rush at deadline time simply because they have more time to do so.
You should also know that submitting your application early may affect any financial aid that you may receive. While some schools may have deadlines as late as April 1, financial aid commitments, including fellowships, assistantships, and grant awards, are often made long before that; this is particularly true of doctoral programs.
The form gives you an outline of what they require and asks basic information about yourself.
The statement of purpose, or personal statement or essays that accompany your application is your opportunity to present yourself and your goals to the admissions committee. Your statement should be well written and should address your background, your areas of interest and your future plans. Be as specific as you can about how the program to which you are applying would be the most beneficial to you and how it will enable you to eventually make a significant contribution in your field of study. You want to convince the admissions committee that their program and the qualities you bring are an excellent match. Some applications have topics that they want you to address. Be sure to answer the questions that they’re asking.
Drafting your statement will be a time consuming process. You will need to write and rewrite. The staff of the Reading/Writing Center, Room 420 TH, will be able to help; contact them early. Also, ask your advisors if they will look over your statement for guidance and suggestions.
You are asked to submit the official transcript for each undergraduate school you have attended. (If the grade is on your Hunter transcript, the original transcript would not be required) Graduate and professional schools obviously place greatest emphasis on grades in courses related to your field, but they do consider the totality of your academic record. Your most recent coursework may also be given more scrutiny than the grades from your earlier years. Some programs also look favorably upon a candidate who has pursued a particularly challenging course of study (a double major, a number of upper-level electives outside a student’s discipline, and so on), even if it has resulted in a somewhat lower overall GPA.
In short, while most schools do have some general GPA scale for evaluating candidates, they may place your GPA in the context of your particular undergraduate course of study. In the case of MFA candidates, your writing or art sample will carry a good deal of weight.
Planning for Graduate School
Letters of recommendation should be positive statements of support and should substantiate your ability to do well in the graduate program. Select faculty members who know you and your academic work in depth and ask if they can provide you with strong recommendations. (It is helpful if they know the graduate program to which you are applying). You should facilitate the process by providing the evaluators with a copy of your transcript, a resume and a copy of your application essay. Ask if you should supply them with any other information that would assist them in writing the letters of recommendation. Most graduate schools now request online letters through the online application. You would need to supply your recommender’s email address for this process. Please remember to thank your professors for their letters and to inform them of the outcome of your application for admission to graduate school and fellowships.
You are asked if you wish to waive your right of access to the letter of recommendation. The letters are generally given greater validity if you choose to do so.
The weight given to standardized admissions exams varies from program to program and discipline to discipline. While it is just one of the variables in the application process, in some fields, such as law and medicine, the LSAT and MCAT have an enormous effect on acceptance. MCATs, LSATs, GMATs and LASTs are required examinations for the fields of medicine, law, business and education.
The GRE is required by most graduate school programs. (The GRE is usually not required for graduate programs in education and social work, particularly in the New York City area.) Check with the programs to which you are applying. You may be required to take the General Test, and/or the Subject Test. The scores are used as one indicator for success in graduate school. The General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills and is scored separately to allow programs to look at your ability in specific areas.
The analytical writing assessment section focuses on your ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively and support ideas with relevant reasons and examples. The score range is from 0 to 6 in increments of 0.5.
The verbal reasoning section measures complex reasoning skills including your ability to analyze and draw conclusions from discourse, reason from incomplete data, identify author’s assumptions and understand multiple levels of meaning.
The quantitative reasoning measures your ability to interpret and analyze quantitative information, apply basic mathematical skills and elementary mathematical concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics and to interpret data and apply to real-life scenarios.
The scoring for the latter two is measured on a 130-170 score scale with 1- point increments.
There are courses you can take at Hunter that may prove helpful in improving your knowledge and skills in taking the General GRE:
- Classics110 for the Verbal Reasoning
- Math 125 for the Quantitative Reasoning
- Philosophy 103 for the Analytical Writing
It is important to prepare for the GRE and familiarize yourself with format of the test as a whole so that you recognize the kind of questions you have to answer instantly. Students can prepare themselves by using the GRE website, the GRE review books such as Practicing to take the GRE General Test available through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or by taking one of the preparation courses. The ETS supplies free test preparation material for GRE test registrants. GRE POWERPREP for the General Test and a practice test for the Subject Test can be downloaded from the GRE web site. A useful site for practice materials is www.number2.com.
Other publications which may prove helpful are: for vocabulary improvement, Vocabulary for Dummies, L.E. Rozakis; for math review, Conquering GRE/GMAT Math, R.E. Moyer and for writing, The Elements of Style, W, Strunk and E. B. White.
Some of the better-known test preparation centers are: Kaplan, (www.kaplan.com), Princeton Review, (www.princetonreview.com), (Hunter College students receive a 10% discount from Princeton Review, (212) 877-6262), PrimePrep (www.primeprep.com). Hunter College’s Continuing Education program, (http://ce.hunter.cuny.edu) offers discounted preparation courses for the GRE and LSAT. Check with the other test preparation centers to find out about any scholarships/discounts that they may offer to students based on academic merit or financial need.
The fee is $160 for the General Test; $140 for the Subject Test
NOTE: Students who receive financial aid may be eligible for a GRE Fee Reduction Certificate; read about it at the GRE web site then check with the Financial Aid Office.
The GRE General Test is available only as a computer-based test. The test is offered many days a month and the results can be available to the graduate schools within fifteen days. The Subject Test continues to be offered in the paper-based format.
Further information or inquiries regarding the GRE should be addressed to:
Graduate Record Examination