I’ve talked a lot in this series about proofreading your applications and making sure there aren’t any mistakes in them, but I’m not done talking about the importance of perfecting your grad school applications. I also wanted to bring up other issues that you can easily avoid and things that you should keep in mind when reviewing your grad school applications before submitting them.
Imagine reading through a published novel or article in a newspaper—things that you expect to read straight through without being interrupted by silly mistakes—and coming across a missing period, or a lower-cased first letter of a sentence. It would probably stop you in your tracks, right? You’d probably stop briefly and forget what you were reading because you couldn’t believe the authors made a mistake that easy to avoid. This is the idea you should bring with you while writing your essays and filling in your grad school applications.
Admissions officers should be able to glide through your whole application and be pleased that they were able to read through it so easily; they shouldn’t have to read mistakes that make them either fear the other materials they have to read or trash your application. Believe me—if they find mistakes, admissions officers may throw away your application so they don’t have to read anymore of the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
A major error I’ve written about for grad school applications in the past is confusing schools’ names. I know I’m not alone when I encourage you to apply to many schools so that you can have plenty of backups and plenty of options open to you. The trouble with applying to more than a few schools is that you might mix up some of the essays and submit the wrong ones if you’re not organized and careful. As I’ve said before, don’t just write a general personal statement and change the school name with every revision. You’ll also want to change a little bit of the content in each essay for each school so that you’re sure to at least change the school name and make customized essays for each school.
A great way to avoid submitting an application full of mistakes is to have colleagues and professors proofread them for you. Don’t put too much pressure on them by stating that your whole future rides on these applications or that you need 12 applications proofread by tomorrow. Kindly ask trusted friends, family, and school personnel to read through some of your applications to see if there are any mistakes in them.
I hope these tips have helped you gain another perspective about how to fill out grad school applications. If you need more help for this issue, take a look at Dr. Don Martin’s article, which provides a few more grad school application tips.