Presentation on theme: "The Graduate School Application Process: Letters of Intent, Letters of Reference."— Presentation transcript:
The Graduate School Application Process: Letters of Intent, Letters of Reference
Do’s and Don’ts: Avoiding the Kiss of Death (KOD) KOD concept: Appleby, D. C. and Appleby, K. M. (2006). Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process. Teaching of Psychology 33(1), 19-24. From a survey of graduate admissions committee chairs (N = 88), the authors identified 5 categories of mistakes made by applicants. These mistakes can potentially sink your application in the eyes of an admissions committee.
KOD cont. “ The ideal student, seen through the eyes of graduate faculty, is Gifted and creative, Very bright and extremely motivated to learn, Perfectly suited to the program, eager to actively pursue the lines of inquiry valued by the faculty, Pleasant Responsible Devoid of serious personal problems. “ (Keith-Speigel & Wiederman, 2000, p.3 with format changes)
KOD cont. Major KOD Categories: a) Damaging personal statements b) Harmful letters of recommendation c) Lack of program information d) Poor writing skills e) Misfired attempts to impress
Damaging Personal Statements Personal mental health Excessive altruism Excessive self-disclosure Professionally inappropriate (e.g., letter printed on “cute” paper; inappropriate/insensitive language, etc.)
Harmful Letters of Recommendation Undesirable applicant characteristics (anything suggesting the person is not intelligent, motivated, pleasant, responsible) Inappropriate letter writers (e.g., your next door neighbor, your pastor, a work colleague who is not a supervisor, a family friend-- even if that person is a psychologist, physician, mayor, or judge)
Lack of information about Program Program focus (clearly not being familiar with the nature of the program) Fit into Program (wanting to be a part-time student when the program is full-time; wanting to specialize in an area that is not related to interests/expertise of any of the faculty, etc.)
Poor Writing Skills Spelling and grammar Poorly written application materials
Misfired Attempts to Impress Being unduly critical of undergrad program or overly praising program applying to Name dropping, especially names of people not professionally relevant.
General advice: Letters of intent Avoid KOD factors If in doubt about what a program is looking for, call and ask Have a friend proof for writing issues, but have your advisor read for tone and content. Give yourself enough time to let the letter sit for a few days before doing final edits Try to read it from the committee’s point of view
General Advice: Letters of Reference Be thinking of “referees” early on When at the point of needing letters, talk with potential letter writers Be organized, plan ahead and provide as much information as possible Periodically check with referees and remind them of deadlines. Let them know the outcome of your applications