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Applicant Advice: How I Got into a Top Program

June 17, 2014 :: Admissionado Team

Our buddy Frank got accepted into his top choice Financial Engineering programs – UIUC and NYU! Frank learned a lot in his experience applying with his Admissionado consultant Bolong Li, and now he’s got plenty of applicant advice to share. We could tell you about his experience, what he learned, and what he accomplished, but then we thought, why not let him tell you?

So here it is… Frank’s applicant advice and how he got into a top program

[Spoiler Alert: His advice applies to any and all programs, whether you’re targeting college, grad programs or MBA programs.]

((Audio: Frank introduces himself))

#1 – Your Standardized Test Scores Aren’t Everything

“Keep in mind that preparing for graduate school applications is not a race for achieving high scores. Instead the admissions committee is curious about other aspects of you, including your personal interests, your personality, your soft skills such as leadership, and your extracurricular activities.”

((Audio: Frank on why test scores are not as important as you think))

#2 – Give Yourself Enough Time to Prepare for Your Essays

“Too many applicants prepare for their tests and essays simultaneously. I strongly suggest you don’t do that. You should keep in mind that the essay part is equally important comparing to the standardized test part… There will always be someone else with higher scores than yours, so you can only make a difference with your essays”

((Audio: Frank on the importance of your essays))

#3 – Diversify Your Academic Background

“For many Chinese applicants, their undergraduate curriculum may not perfectly match the admissions committees requirements. So diversify your academic background. You can attend more elective courses at other schools or study on your own.”

((Audio: Frank on diversifying your academic background))

#4 – Study the Official Website of the Program, Department, School and University

“There is plenty of information on the [official website]. You can tell the difference between similar programs such as their curriculum, preferences for applicants, student and professor backgrounds, and internship and placement rates. You should have a very clear idea of the nuances of similar programs and know very clearly what you want.”

((Audio: Frank on knowing what you want))

#5 – Use Your Experiences to Tell Good Stories

“All my stories, professional interest, and career ambitions came from my internship and working experiences, which is totally different from what I learned in school. So use your work and internship experience to tell a really good story”

((Audio: Frank on how he turned his long-term career vision into a good story))

((Audio: Frank says Thanks))

This is some tried and true advice, folks. Frank worked hard and learned a LOT in the process… and in the end, he came out on top. The tippity top! So before you start strategizing and planning for your own applications, let it aaaall sink in. Then get to it. As you’ve seen, you’ve got some work to do.