4 application mistakes to avoid - and what you should do instead
You want to put your best foot forward when applying for grad school. I spoke to our Director of Online Admissions, Nicole Lindsay, who sees applications come through the door every day that could be stronger. So when I asked for her best advice on applying to UNE Online, she quickly highlighted four types of mistakes that she sees on a regular basis. So if you want your application to be seriously considered for acceptance by the application committee, take a look.
So when I asked for her best advice on applying to UNE Online, she quickly highlighted four types of application mistakes that she sees on a regular basis. So if you want your application to be seriously considered for acceptance by the application committee, take a look.
1. Don’t use personal references
Put yourself in our shoes, and think about what UNE is trying to achieve through this application process. We’re trying to determine if you will be a good fit here, so we can set you up for success from the very beginning. One way we get to know you is by obtaining your transcript because, as you know, past performance is an indicator of future success. But we’re also looking to get a picture of you as a person through an academic and professional lens. A good reference will be able to speak not just to your sparkling personality, but will also know you in an academic and professional sense.
So with this in mind, we strongly recommend that your references – or recommendations – depending on which program you’re applying for – would be a supervisory or an academic person. Ideally, one of each, and someone who has a higher job function than you do. A lot of our programs are demanding academically, so it’s ideal to have someone who can speak to both your academic and professional aspects.
But what if you’ve been out of school for a while? Or, what if you’re unemployed? In those cases, think about your own network in your community. Find a reference that you know and work with who functions in some type of leadership capacity. Maybe you volunteer with Meals on Wheels – ask your area coordinator for a reference. Maybe you teach in a kids program – ask your program coordinator if they would be a reference. Someone in any sort of leadership capacity over you speaks far more strongly and carries more weight as a reference than a peer or a friend.
We get surprisingly quite a few peer references, which are actually looked at negatively.
If you don’t have two people who are in some type of a leadership or supervisory position that you interact with on a regular basis, then get involved in something and get them. Also, make sure you talk to an enrollment counselor. They can give you specific advice for your situation. Unless the rest of your application is picture perfect, peer references may weigh negatively on your review with the application committee.
2. Don’t wait until the deadline
The rolling admissions model rewards the proactive. Our Ed.D. program is cohort-based, and only has a specific number of spots available. Once those Ed.D. spots are filled, they are filled. So it behooves you to apply early and secure your spot if you are interested in that program. Our other programs do allow for more fluidity, but it’s in your best interest to complete your application as soon as possible, as the application committee likes to see motivation, and applying early shows initiative.
Give yourself the gift of time. Sending away for your official transcripts can take up to a couple of weeks sometimes. Give your references time to gather their thoughts. The application itself is not time intensive, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete it. There are more components involved than are initially evident.
Another benefit to rolling admissions is that the sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back from us. And classes do fill up, so if you’re early you get more choices of classes and sections.
3. Don’t let a low GPA stop you
Earlier we mentioned that past performance is a good indicator of future success. But what about when it’s not? We look for a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but what if yours is lower? Use your goal statement to address the issue of your GPA and the fact that you didn’t perform strongly in your undergraduate education. We’re not looking for excuses, but tailor your message to provide an explanation as to why you didn’t perform up to your potential, what has changed, and how you will overcome and perform better academically now.
And then work diligently to strengthen your application in other ways. Add an additional reference who can speak to your work ethic. Add additional transcripts from non matriculated courses you may have taken. The application committee is looking for a history of success, so spotlight your successes.
4. Don’t miss the opportunity to talk to an Enrollment Counselor
Your Enrollment Counselor is not going to try and talk you into a program. They’re here to help you determine whether the program that you are considering is a good fit for you, and they will help you compile your strongest application.
Each Enrollment Counselor is an expert on the program that they work with and can answer both general questions about the application process and specific questions about the program.
Your Enrollment Counselor can help you corral your application materials and remind you to nudge your reference if that reference hasn’t yet responded to us, and they also are the first person to read your goal statement. So if they see something significantly lacking, often they will provide you with constructive feedback. They won’t provide edits, but they can provide you with perhaps an additional perspective to consider, or a fact that you forgot to include, or a helpful tip.
Your Enrollment Counselor is a subject area expert and a resource for you to use. It is in your best interests to enlist their help!
Starting your application
The first step to pursuing your graduate degree is the online application. Each graduate program provides its own admissions requirements, procedures, and deadlines. Click below to find out more about a particular graduate program of study and the application procedure for that program.
Program-specific application procedures
Best of luck!
At UNE Online the sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back. Fill out an online application today at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page!