Avoid These 2 Mistakes To Make Your PhD Application Stand Out

phd application sop Mar 14, 2022
You are just about to hit Submit on your PhD application. You have spent countless hours and days perfecting this application. But, what could you be forgetting?
Avoid these 2 mistakes to make your PhD application stand out:
1. Failing to answer the specific application essay prompt.


Chances are you’re applying to more than 1 school.
It can be incredibly tempting to copy/paste your essay from school to school. However, the essay prompts are not always a 100% match.
This means you’re now trying to cut and paste portions of your essay together so it now “fits” the new essay prompt.
This is a disservice to you and the school you are applying to. You don’t show up as the best version of you.
You instead, seem disinterested and half-hearted. This makes it less likely you will get accepted.
The school could be missing out on one of their best candidates, and they don’t even know it.
Instead, take each essay prompt from each school and start a fresh draft.  If you need help crafting your statement of purpose (SOP), I teach a highly strategic process in the Fearless Grad Program.
You can of course bring in pieces from other essays, but they will be complimentary, instead of a Frankenstein approach where disgruent paragraphs are shoved together.
Ask a friend or advisor to read the essay prompt and THEN your essay. Can they clearly connect your response to the question?
If not, it’s time to revise.
2. Leaving the Application Incomplete
This sounds simple. But, do not let it fool you. Grad school applications have gotten complicated. It’s easy to miss one of the 10,000 pieces of information you need!
For each application, make a list of all necessary items and check them off as they are uploaded to the application portal.
The necessary information will vary from school to school, but usually covers these items:
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose Essay
  • Extra Fellowship Essays (if needed)
  • Letters of Rec Requests (include the emails of those who will be writing your letter of rec, and the system will notify them where to upload materials)
  • Test Scores
  • Education History
If there are any additional hard copy documents required via post, make sure to note those and verify they were delivered.
You will usually be able to see when letters of rec have been submitted on your behalf. 
If it is getting close to the deadline and your letters are still missing, send polite follow up emails reminding them of this upcoming deadline. 
A simple “Is there anything else I can provide you for this letter?” email will go a long way to nudge them forward.
Once you are 100% sure your application is complete, and your essay addresses their exact question, you are ready to hit submit!

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