4 Pieces to Complete Your Application Puzzle

You’ve decided to apply to grad school and have whittled your list down to the programs that meet your goals and needs, and are within your reach. Now is the time, with application deadlines several months away, to get started on your applications. This way you’ll have the time you need to submit complete, shining apps to the adcoms.


Your Personal Jigsaw Puzzle

The elements of your application can be looked at like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece – your GPA, transcripts, test score, resume, essays, and letters of rec – when put together shows a complete and comprehensive picture of you. The objective of putting together all of this data is to introduce yourself to the adcom, so it’s imperative that all of the pieces fit together properly in order to make an accurate introduction and a slam-dunk first impression.

A Cohesive, Holistic Picture

Your complete application needs to make sense, so that the adcom members can easily discern how each piece fits into your one-of-a-kind puzzle.

Here are the pieces of your graduate application puzzle and what each one represents to the admissions committees.

    1. Resume: Summary and overview of your professional qualifications.

    2. Transcript and test scores: Raw data on academic aptitudes.

    4. Essays: You expressing your unique story. This is your chance to add detail and color to the picture of what makes you different from all other applicants, and why this grad school would want you as part of its incoming class. Your essays are the glue that holds your puzzle together.

Your whole application should present a unified, clear picture of YOU, showing your most remarkable undertakings, notable events, critical scores, and stats. There should be few (if any) overlaps between the items above. But they all need to complement each other. The complete picture must be whole, not disjointed. A missing piece, or one that doesn’t fit into a space will make your application puzzle appear sloppy and unfinished. It should show you as a multi-faceted, fascinating, and compelling applicant.

Be sure your application shows all of the different pieces that complete the unique puzzle that is you.

What to dive deeper into these key elements? Listen to The 4 Must-Haves of a Grad School Application, an Admissions Straight Talk podcast episode. (And if you like what you hear, there are loads more episodes!)



About Linda Abraham:

Catherine Blogger PhotoAccepted.com has guided thousands of applicants to acceptances at top universities since 1994 – they know what works and what doesn’t, so follow Linda Abraham on Google+ and contact Accepted to get started or visit Accepted.com for all your admissions consulting needs today!


Photo at top courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Africa Studio


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  • Linda Abraham

    Linda Abraham is the founder and CEO of Accepted, the top-tier admissions consultancy that helps you unlock your competitive advantage. Linda has written or co-authored 13 ebooks on the college admissions process. In 2007, she co-founded the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) and became its first president. For the last 20 years Linda and her highly credentialed, experienced team have helped thousands of applicants get accepted to top colleges and graduate schools worldwide, including but not limited to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg, and MIT. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, The New York Times, US News, The Sunday Times of London, Businessweek, Poets & Quants and MBA Podcaster.

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