To those contemplating a PhD program, whether it be science, history, philosophy, or whatever your topic of interest, there are a few things you should know for the application process.
1) Show that you have experience in critical thinking
-This is one of the most crucial aspects of your application, avoid words like routine or including things that appear repetitive (any aspects of your work experience that you can probably do in your sleep, spin that to make it sound more appealing) Also let your recommenders know that they need to explain how you show this crucial skill. Joining work committees is also a good way to show you like to problem solve.
2) Test scores are not the end of the world
-Although Universities usually have a set limit (GREs in the 70th% for example), this will not determine your worth to them. If you have excelled in other aspects, highlight them! Book smarts will not get you through a PhD program alone, you need to know how to apply what you’ve learned.
3) Undergrad…lets face it, it happened…and there is not much you can do about it now.
-We’ve all been there. Especially those of us drunken scientists whom enjoyed indulging in delicious beverages more often then studying. But if your graduation GPA isn’t the best, prove youself. Take graduate courses or Ace a certificate program, show that your priorities and study habits have changed….they like seeing improvement!
4) The Personal Statement
-It’s called so for a reason, make it personal. Don’t delve into the details of a tragic situation and dwell on it (this ain’t no pity party). Give them enough to understand your passion and your drive. Leave them wanting to know more, but highlight your achievements and your goals. Let them know you mean business!
And finally, contact the head of admissions. Grill them about the program and let them know you have a strong interest. Make yourself stand out so that when your application arrives they remember you. Plus they may waive your application fee just for being proactive!