Last week, WCS-UW and Free Radicals/PLU hosted a panel for undergraduates interested in applying to graduate school. Professors Rob Synovec (UW chemistry associate chair for graduate education) and Brandi Cossairt (member of the UW chemistry admissions committee) provided an administrative view of the application process while several graduate students shared their personal experiences. Thank you to all the of panel members and those who attended the event; it was a great way to start off the year!
If you missed it or would like to refresh your memory, here are a few key points:
- Be sure to check the individual websites of institutions that you are interested in – you’ll be able to find application deadlines and information that may be unique to the school
- When getting letters of recommendation, try to use faculty rather than TAs and bosses (the latter don’t carry too much weight)
- If you transferred schools while an undergraduate, get letters from previous and current institutions
- When looking for possible letter writers, you want to find that one person who can be your advocate and say something unique about you (doing undergraduate research can give you this)
- Undergraduate research isn’t imperative, but you should have an idea of whether you like research or not
- Your statement of purpose should express your interest relative to each institution – mention specific faculty, unique characteristics of program, etc.
- Tailor your cover letter to each school
- The most important part of your application will be your body of work as an undergraduate
- In your statement of purpose, think of how you’re going to get the busy reader to take notice of your application – distinguish yourself early and explain any red flags
- Be careful with templates, you want your statement to be original
- There is an advantage to getting your application in early
- Before you apply, it’s okay (and can help you) to contact professors at the institution to introduce yourself and express why you’re excited about attending that school
- If you would like to defer, be sure to check with each individual institution as they have different policies