Best Websites for Graduate Admissions Advice

Best Websites for Graduate Admissions Advice


Graduate Admissions Advice

There is a lot of information out there when it comes to graduate admissions advice. Some of it great, some of it awful. After scouring the internet we’ve compiled a list of the best websites for graduate applicants (excluding this one) when navigating the admissions process. If you’ve found any websites particularly useful that aren’t listed here, please help others by commenting below.

 

 

Departmental Webpages

This sounds like an obvious thing to list, but you’d be amazed how many applicants don’t take the time to thoroughly research their prospective universities. The first place you should look for information is the programs graduate admissions webpage. In most cases, almost all the questions you have are answered somewhere on the departmental webpage, even if you have to hunt for awhile.
For the questions that aren’t answered, some passive research can provide a lot of guidance. Consider this: The Harvard graduate economics website has a comprehensive list of all their current PhD students. About half those students upload their CV to the Harvard public website. That means you have access to at least 50 CVs from individuals who were accepted to that program. That information is invaluable to the admissions process. Questions like: Can I get in if I haven’t published? Do they accept students from state schools? Are awards important to the admissions committee? ALL of these can be answered for your exact program by simply reading through current student CVs. It’s important to remember that the CV they have as graduate students isn’t the same format/structure they had for admissions (they likely cut out a lot of detail), but you still get general information that is neatly arranged by year. You should quickly be able to see if someone published before entering that program or worked for a few years before applying.
This type of data is by far the most important information you can obtain about exactly what type of students, backgrounds, and stats your intended program is looking for. Not everyone will upload this type of information, but a decent amount of people make their CVs public.

 

LinkedIn

If the department websites don’t list current students, or don’t have space for them to upload a CV, then LinkedIn can be a great resource for passive graduate admissions advice. Searching for current or former graduate students at the department you want to attend can give you a list of detailed information on what the standard admit looks like stat wise. You won’t get super detailed information like you can get from a CV, but at minimum you can usually see where they attended undergrad, any major awards they won, and whether or not they published before entering. Some forums have applicant result pages that offer up similar information, which is definitely worth checking out.

 

Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep gets our GRE seal of approval for several reasons, one of which is: The 5lb Book. This book has more GRE style problems than you can probably ever do. The Manhattan Prep book selection is well structured and comprehensive. They have a range of problems and don’t shy away from difficult questions like a lot of Kaplan and Barron books.  Their structured class program is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a good option for students who feel they need a real classroom experience. When big companies like Goldman Sachs, Cisco, and the Boston Consulting Group send their employees back to school, this is the company they use to prepare their employees for exams. Manhattan Prep is the Cadillac of all thing GRE prep–from their flashcards to their practice tests.

 

Magoosh

Magoosh gets a mention for GRE prep in several areas: quality, breadth, and affordability. They offer a ton of free GRE prep materials, but still manage to keep
the quality fairly high, and the site was started by graduate students! They offer a plethora of phone apps for on the go study, which is particularly useful. If you’re serious about getting a top score or feel like you need more structure, they also offer full courses which are more affordable than Manhattan Prep. They have a forum and blog that routinely has good graduate admissions advice related to the GRE, such as average scores for top program admits and discussions of how important the different sections are to various departments.

 

GradSchools.com

You likely have a good idea of where you want to apply based on your undergraduate research, so the usefulness of this database is limited when it comes to finding actual programs. That said, it’s an invaluable resource when it comes to finance opportunities. You can search by field/subject and get a comprehensive list of fellowships, scholarships, and awards. For that reason alone it warrants a serious visit or two as you compile your application materials and look into funding options.

 

Quora

Quora is a great website for very specific questions. The people who respond are generally older and more established in their field. There is also a no nonsense/high quality requirement for Quora answers. Rather than asking other inexperienced individuals who may or may not be in a field remotely close to your own–ask the experts! You can often find adjunct faculty at schools such as Carnegie Mellon responding to questions about graduate admissions advice, so you’re more likely to get high quality advice rather than sources like reddit.

 

The Grad Cafe Forum

The grad cafe forum is useful for graduate admissions in two important ways (1) finding out when universities send out acceptances/rejections and (2) having a place to stress out and obsess so you don’t drive your friends and family insane. Most users are other applicants, just as new to this process as you, so answers to important questions should be taken with a grain of salt. Even if a seasoned veteran responds, they probably didn’t go through the application process for your exact program or apply to more than a handful of schools. We’ve seen a lot of questions being answered by individuals in totally different circumstances. At best this can needlessly stress out the person asking, and at worst it may drive them to act on this bad advice. This can lead to a “blind leading the blind” setup that has caused a few problems for applicants over the years. Before heeding too much advice, also make sure the responses are from the last year or two. Universities change their standards and direction fairly often, and you don’t want to get outdated information. All that said, it’s a wonderful resource for building a sense of community and sharing experiences, so we definitely recommend it for chatting with your fellow applicants and keeping up your mental health through this arduous process.

 

 

 

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Best Websites for Graduate Admissions Advice

Best Websites for Graduate Admissions Advice April 6th, 2016


Graduate Admissions Advice

There is a lot of information out there when it comes to graduate admissions advice. Some of it great, some of it awful. After scouring the internet we’ve compiled a list of the best websites for graduate applicants (excluding this one) when navigating the admissions process. If you’ve found any websites particularly useful that aren’t listed here, please help others by commenting below.

 

 

Departmental Webpages

This sounds like an obvious thing to list, but you’d be amazed how many applicants don’t take the time to thoroughly research their prospective universities. The first place you should look for information is the programs graduate admissions webpage. In most cases, almost all the questions you have are answered somewhere on the departmental webpage, even if you have to hunt for awhile.
For the questions that aren’t answered, some passive research can provide a lot of guidance. Consider this: The Harvard graduate economics website has a comprehensive list of all their current PhD students. About half those students upload their CV to the Harvard public website. That means you have access to at least 50 CVs from individuals who were accepted to that program. That information is invaluable to the admissions process. Questions like: Can I get in if I haven’t published? Do they accept students from state schools? Are awards important to the admissions committee? ALL of these can be answered for your exact program by simply reading through current student CVs. It’s important to remember that the CV they have as graduate students isn’t the same format/structure they had for admissions (they likely cut out a lot of detail), but you still get general information that is neatly arranged by year. You should quickly be able to see if someone published before entering that program or worked for a few years before applying.
This type of data is by far the most important information you can obtain about exactly what type of students, backgrounds, and stats your intended program is looking for. Not everyone will upload this type of information, but a decent amount of people make their CVs public.

 

LinkedIn

If the department websites don’t list current students, or don’t have space for them to upload a CV, then LinkedIn can be a great resource for passive graduate admissions advice. Searching for current or former graduate students at the department you want to attend can give you a list of detailed information on what the standard admit looks like stat wise. You won’t get super detailed information like you can get from a CV, but at minimum you can usually see where they attended undergrad, any major awards they won, and whether or not they published before entering. Some forums have applicant result pages that offer up similar information, which is definitely worth checking out.

 

Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep gets our GRE seal of approval for several reasons, one of which is: The 5lb Book. This book has more GRE style problems than you can probably ever do. The Manhattan Prep book selection is well structured and comprehensive. They have a range of problems and don’t shy away from difficult questions like a lot of Kaplan and Barron books.  Their structured class program is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a good option for students who feel they need a real classroom experience. When big companies like Goldman Sachs, Cisco, and the Boston Consulting Group send their employees back to school, this is the company they use to prepare their employees for exams. Manhattan Prep is the Cadillac of all thing GRE prep–from their flashcards to their practice tests.

 

Magoosh

Magoosh gets a mention for GRE prep in several areas: quality, breadth, and affordability. They offer a ton of free GRE prep materials, but still manage to keep
the quality fairly high, and the site was started by graduate students! They offer a plethora of phone apps for on the go study, which is particularly useful. If you’re serious about getting a top score or feel like you need more structure, they also offer full courses which are more affordable than Manhattan Prep. They have a forum and blog that routinely has good graduate admissions advice related to the GRE, such as average scores for top program admits and discussions of how important the different sections are to various departments.

 

GradSchools.com

You likely have a good idea of where you want to apply based on your undergraduate research, so the usefulness of this database is limited when it comes to finding actual programs. That said, it’s an invaluable resource when it comes to finance opportunities. You can search by field/subject and get a comprehensive list of fellowships, scholarships, and awards. For that reason alone it warrants a serious visit or two as you compile your application materials and look into funding options.

 

Quora

Quora is a great website for very specific questions. The people who respond are generally older and more established in their field. There is also a no nonsense/high quality requirement for Quora answers. Rather than asking other inexperienced individuals who may or may not be in a field remotely close to your own–ask the experts! You can often find adjunct faculty at schools such as Carnegie Mellon responding to questions about graduate admissions advice, so you’re more likely to get high quality advice rather than sources like reddit.

 

The Grad Cafe Forum

The grad cafe forum is useful for graduate admissions in two important ways (1) finding out when universities send out acceptances/rejections and (2) having a place to stress out and obsess so you don’t drive your friends and family insane. Most users are other applicants, just as new to this process as you, so answers to important questions should be taken with a grain of salt. Even if a seasoned veteran responds, they probably didn’t go through the application process for your exact program or apply to more than a handful of schools. We’ve seen a lot of questions being answered by individuals in totally different circumstances. At best this can needlessly stress out the person asking, and at worst it may drive them to act on this bad advice. This can lead to a “blind leading the blind” setup that has caused a few problems for applicants over the years. Before heeding too much advice, also make sure the responses are from the last year or two. Universities change their standards and direction fairly often, and you don’t want to get outdated information. All that said, it’s a wonderful resource for building a sense of community and sharing experiences, so we definitely recommend it for chatting with your fellow applicants and keeping up your mental health through this arduous process.

 

 

 

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