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Mistakes to Avoid on Your Postgraduate Application

While it might be one of the most important things to fill out, it can be easy to rush through writing your postgraduate application and miss out on essential and important information.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when writing your postgrad application.


1. Not Enough Information in Your Personal Statement

Your personal statement is the best way to sell yourself before your interview, so you really need to pull out all the stops and give the best impression of yourself possible.

Make sure you include everything relevant you can think of, both academically and employment related.  Treat your personal statement in the same manner as you would a cover letter in a job application.


2. Going Over the Top

While it’s important to include as much information as possible, there is still a line.

If asked for two referees, provide only two- not six. While you might think this shows how highly you’re regarded (and how generally popular you are), in fact it just looks like you didn’t read the instructions properly, have difficulty following set guidelines or can’t prioritise important information.

Stick to the word count for your personal statement, too. If it asks for 500 words, make sure you’re not erring on the side of 1,000 when you hand it in. Go for quality much more than quantity in this instance.


3. Asking for Too Much Funding

Studying a postgraduate course don’t come cheap, and so many Masters and PhD degrees in particular will be eligible for funding from the university itself, or some other form of grant.

If you are given the chance to request your own funding amount, use this chance wisely. Asking for sums upward of £20,000 per year, almost as much as you would make in many graduate positions, will not be looked upon favourably by many of the professors you apply to.


4. Not Doing Enough Research

It is quite awkward to come to the interview day expecting to meet John Peters when you will actually be interviewed by Jane Peters. So make sure you have the correct names and genders of those you send the application forms to in order to avoid any awkward situations in the future.

Try to find out a bit about the university as well, in particular the course you’re applying to. Are there any famous alumni you know? How many other degrees does the school offer? Listing some of these facts will show the admissions team you’ve done your homework, and could be the difference between acceptance or refusal.


5. Applying For Too Many Places

Of course it’s good to have some options in case one of your applications aren’t accepted, and if you find more than one course you believe suitable to you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t apply to them.

Just avoid sending a generic application to all these places. It will take a long time to recover from the embarrassment of sending Oxford University an application letter referencing how much you’re looking forward to your years studying at the University of Liverpool.


6. Not Spell Checking

It’s the most basic ideal - make sure your spelling is completely accurate, and everything is grammatically correct. This is an instance where perfect and professional English is essential, and text speak is an absolute no.

Run it through a spell check before submitting, as well as asking friends and family to make sure every error has been spotted. Make sure that you’ve also referred to the university in the right manner - is it University of ______ or ______ University?


7. Using Generic Phrases

We are always told to sell ourselves using adjectives such as "responsible" and "enthusiastic", but most of these are overused in university applications.

If it appears on your CV as one of your "buzz words", try to avoid using it in your application letter. Chances are, the person you’re sending it to has heard it many times before.




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