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Applying to graduate school from Indonesia — what’s my next step? November 18, 2010

Posted by Sharehouse Jakarta in Uncategorized.
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GRE and Masters Degree IndonesiaCongratulations on putting all your masters degree admissions tasks on one piece of paper. You can see the calendaring work has been checked off the 9-step list below. That means you only have 8 more steps to go.

Good luck and don’t hesitate to add your own tips in the comments section.






Order Action Why
1 Your calendaring exercise comes first. Gather together information about test dates and applications deadlines and requirements. Decide which programs you’ll apply to and when you need to E-mail and/or post the application documents. Timing is one of the most challenging aspects of graduate applications. Calendaring is the first step in coming up to speed.
2 Control the test (eg GMAT, GRE, etc) situation. Which tests will you take and when? Plan to spend all your time preparing for your test, except the time you need for applications. You will be more confident and focused after you have a test strategy.
3 Control the letters of recommendation (LOR) situation. Make a list of who (eg, professors, supervisor) you want as a recommender and come up with a strategy that will turn them into your strong supporters. Include at least two back ups. The letters are a “question mark.” You need extra time in case things don’t go smoothly.
4 Write a first draft personal statement (PS) as soon as possible. Be creative. Start with a story. You statement is like an advertisement: it provides information in order to sell a product; and you are the product. You need to differentiate yourself from “competing brands.”  A boring PS won’t sell. The 1st draft requires full concentration. Your strategy: get it out of the way. Turn to other activities. Start the 2nd draft with a fresh mind.
5 Stop writing your personal statement and turn to your CV. Your graduate applications CV is a complete but concise record of all the important, impressive things you have done. These considerations apply to each potential CV entry: 

  • Omit it if many or most other applicants also have the same activity, award, etc; UNLESS it was carried out in an unusual way, unusual place, unusual language etc
  • Use creative labels to combine activities of shorter duration into more substantial CV entries
  • Don’t confuse local and global. If the admission committee is in the USA, then SD in means South Dakota not sekolah dasar. A few acronyms – like ASEAN, UN, MBA, HTML – are OK. Everything else should be translated.
Your CV and PS work in tandem. Without a strategically designed CV, your PS is just poetry.
6 Despite the name PS2, the second draft of your PS isn’t fun. But it’s better than PS1. Use the PS to emphasize your CV entries which are substantial and relevant but also interesting to discuss. Stuff that’s important but boring can remain in the CV alone but with added emphasis. Your CV and PS might look similar at first. But eventually they need to work independently of each other.
7 Give your CV and essays to some people who have some idea how it will be used and ask them for feedback. This is a critically important opportunity to hone both your writing and your “self sales” technique. Effective assistance from others can and should feed back into your application strategies themselves.
8 Forget about the PS now and study for the test. You can consciously shift gears – from synthesis into analysis. (Test prep will seem fun compared to Steps 4-7 : -)
9 Even if English is (more or less) your first language, you should have your CV and personal statement edited by a professional. First of all, great writing requires good editing. Second, the admissions committees frankly admit that this is standard practice. This is another way of saying that they expect it. So this is a strategy for staying competitive.


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