Ask in person. Prepare a speech. Think of a politician (this isn’t an aspersion). Whenever they deviate from a talking point, or face an impromptu question, they veer back toward their main argument and, simply put, repeat themselves. It’s like a failsafe. Think about when someone approaches you on the street, you say, Hi, how are you? What have you been up to? If you didn’t have this to flounder on, the conversation wouldn’t be a conversation. Seems simple, is simple.
We call it rhetoric, or persuasive speech. Why? Because passion is a lot more cajoling than reason. So don’t worry if you’re anxious, that’ll translate in your favor. Just remember to communicate articulately, and be confident. Remember: this is your future. No one should obviate you from it!
If you’re still in school, wondering whether or not you should ask in person or e-mail (ask in person), remember that your professors are just like you, maybe a few decades older (or not). Professors like to enable their students, and help them achieve their dreams. Living by association, right?
If you’ve been out of school, generally a holistic approach is what they’re looking for. If you didn’t establish relationships in your undergraduate, look to those who can speak to your character (favorably, of course). Employers, volunteer associations, medical practitioners are a great place to look. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Most of your reference letters will be furnished online, which means you will input your reference’s name into your application. Your reference will then receive an email where they can upload their recommendation. You’ll be able to track uploads, and send prompts. Easy, quick, and frighteningly accountable.
Check each school’s guidelines. Some will only take transcripts if mailed directly from your academic institution. Others will let you mail it yourself.
Statement of Purpose
This one varies from a one page summary of why you want to attend the institution to a four page personal essay on your family background, and events that shaped the reasons why you want to become whatever it is your choice school will enable you to become. Please check the guidelines. There are plenty of resources to check on the internet, and samples from alumni or students.
It helps to personalize this statement by including favorite faculty members or reasons why this program is an apt fit (i.e. class size, or academic verse studio curriculum). Try to avoid any litanies or lengthy anecdotes. Again: do your research.
Each school varies. There may be different fellowships and teaching positions you can apply for. Obviously, if you’re applying for graduate school, funding is a compelling motivation. It may dictate why you’ve chosen a school. These are dependent on the type of program and the school you’re going to. Check your prospective institutions website. Check it thoroughly.
If this is something you haven’t really thought about, think about it. Don’t let it slip away because you think it’s too much effort, or you’ll do it later. These are competitive.
Just remember: the earlier you finish your applications, the sooner you can forget about them. It will help assuage the wait. Then, come spring, hopefully you’ll have some good news. Or not.
Don’t despair. Try again! These are your dreams we’re talking about! Check alternative courses, programs – whatever you can do to increase your competitiveness. Be so great that you can’t be ignored. Repeat, repeat, repeat.