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Why You Were Rejected From Your Dream Graduate School

Why You Were Rejected From Your Dream Graduate School

Graduate school is competitive, and the truth is plenty of candidates get turned away every year, and it can be a tough pill to swallow.  In the fall of 2015 semester, for example, Penn State University had to turn away nearly 15,000 of the 20,000 applicants that applied to their graduate programs.  Understanding that misery loves company may not be all that comforting right now, heres a few reasons why you may have been rejected from your dream graduate school.

Undergraduate GPA and Coursework

Lets be honest with ourselves: if your undergraduate GPA points to someone that never took their education seriously, it shouldnt be a big mystery as to why you didnt get into grad school.  Grad schools look at GPA, and unless youre coming from a notoriously difficult undergrad program, mediocre GPA scores are going to raise red flags.

The overall score, though, is half the story.  The will also look at the classes that got you those scores.  Admissions officers tend to prefer applicants that challenge themselves in their course load.  If your application shows you coasted through your undergraduate years in introductory courses, its not going to look as good as if you excelled in some advanced courses.

GRE and GMAT Scores

Since we were in grade school, weve been hammered with standardized tests, and getting into grad school is no different.  Your GRE or GMAT score is a piece of your application that carries a lot of weight, and if you have a good score, it can open doors for you.

graduate schoolWhat is a good score?  It depends on the program and school.  In 2014, Kaplan reported the average scores for test-takers to be 150-152 (out of a possible 170) for both the Verbal and Quantitative portions of the GRE test, with the Analytical Writing section falling in line at a 3.5 out of a possible 6.  Obviously, the key is to be on the right side of that bell curve.  Engineering and psychology programs usually look for higher grades than education programs.  If you feel like this is where your application lacked, than there are research tools available online for you to help boost your future scores.    

Your Dream Schools Were Too Lofty

Self-assessment is a part of the application process that doesnt get talked about too often, but it is something you may need to think about if youre feeling left out in the cold when those rejection letters start coming in.  Its possible that you set your standards too high, especially if you find yourself shut out completely.  We all want to go to the best school available to us, but there are reasons why everyone cant go to Harvard.  Its a good idea, next time around, to make sure you have some second-tier schools in mind.

Not Enough Room

Unfortunately, sometimes it just comes down to space and funds.  If youre in a particularly competitive field, you could be a qualified candidate that just didnt make the cut.  Programs need to draw the line somewhere, and that can mean turning away worthy applicants.

How to Rebound

If graduate school isnt in the cards at the moment, then its time to figure out what to do next.  Evaluate the schools that you applied to again and decide if they are truly a good fit for you.  You should also decide which safety schools you might want to apply to when you start filling out applications again.  In the meantime, its a great idea to stay focused on the field youre applying for.  Apply for research jobs, internships, or related jobs in the private sector.  This experience will only bolster your application for the next wave of applications.

Facing rejection is hard, but understanding why you were rejected and learning from that experience can help you in the future.  

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