Guide to Postgraduate Applications • Postgraduate

5 Mistakes You Need to Avoid in Postgraduate Applications

POSTED ON 07/27/2023 BY The Red Pen

Representation of stopping mistakes

Mastering the art of a successful postgraduate application is a meticulous process that demands four to five months of diligent planning. Even the most organised individuals often commit a few common mistakes that can hinder their chances of success. In this post, we will explore five prevalent mistakes made during postgraduate applications and provide valuable insights on how to avoid them. 

1) Misinterpreting postgraduate admissions deadlines

The term “Rolling Admissions” is often misunderstood, particularly by UK and US applicants. Students who submit their forms in March often discover that programmes offering rolling admissions have closed their application windows. Therefore, it is crucial to understand postgraduate application deadlines to avoid this situation. 

Rolling Admissions implies the application portal remains open for a specific programme until the seating capacity is filled. If you’re applying for highly sought-after postgraduate programmes, such as MSc Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) or MSc Finance at Bayes Business School, apply as early as January. Most of these programmes reach their seating capacity by February. Read our blog on the ideal postgraduate application timeline for further guidance. 

2) Not aligning personal statements with the rest of your postgraduate application

Your personal statement holds immense significance and is essential to your postgraduate application. However, it is evaluated holistically in conjunction with the rest of your application. Hence, students must synchronise their narratives across different sections of their application. 

For instance, if you choose to write about an award for your contributions to a team at work, substantiate your claim with a letter of recommendation for a master’s from your project supervisor. By aligning the application materials in this manner, you enhance your credibility and provide the reader with a complete depiction of your actions and their outcomes. In your statement, remember to give a comprehensive account of the project, its challenges, and the lessons you learned.

3) Blindly copy-pasting essays from one university application to another

While programme titles across universities may seem similar, the courses and module content can differ significantly. Therefore conducting a thorough comparative analysis is essential, especially if you’re applying for postgraduate studies at multiple universities. A common mistake is using identical course and module names when applying to different universities. 

Let’s consider an applicant who wants to pursue a master’s in finance and is interested in Imperial College London (ICL) in the UK and Fordham University in the US. This applicant must know that each institution has distinct names for the programme modules. While ICL calls its module “Foundation in Finance,” Fordham University refers to it as “Basics in Finance.” 

Copy-pasting essays between different university applications can convey inaccurate information and give the impression of carelessness or lack of research on the applicant’s part. Taking your time to study a university and its postgraduate course shows genuine interest in the specific university and helps you craft a better application. 

4) Avoiding or relying entirely on AI for postgraduate applications

When you apply to graduate schools, paying close attention to the details and avoiding spelling, grammar, or formatting mistakes is extremely important. In today’s world, where AI has become pervasive across industries, universities expect applicants to take advantage of available tools. We encourage our applicants to use language portals to vet their content and ensure their submissions are error-free. 

However, relying entirely on AI is a mistake. Our blog ChatGPT: The Truth about AI-Writing for College Application Essays explains why. Machine-generated content cannot express passion and experience like human writing. So, getting your essays and applications reviewed by someone else is essential. Ideally, a strategic combination of AI-supported tools and human judgment will assist you in creating an exceptional application.

5) Lack of clarity on your career goals for postgraduate applications

Universities have a vested interest in fostering personal growth among their students. They actively seek out applicants who have the potential to become future Nobel laureates or influential figures. Articulating your goals in your essay is an excellent way to showcase your potential and desire to achieve greatness. Neglecting to do so can significantly weaken your application. Therefore, utilising the essay or short questions to demonstrate your unwavering commitment to your dreams and your strong desire to make a meaningful impact is necessary.

As postgraduate application coaches, we encourage students to be audacious about their goals, even if they seem impossible. Doing so captures attention and showcases a vision and your determination to see it through. However, supporting your ideas with industry knowledge and a well-researched career pathway is crucial to establish credibility and demonstrate that you have thoroughly considered the practical aspects of making your dreams come true. You may also mention leveraging a graduate school’s network to meet your goals. 

In conclusion, navigating the postgraduate application process requires careful attention to detail and avoiding common mistakes. By avoiding these common mistakes and approaching your postgraduate applications with diligence and strategic thinking, you’ll enhance your chances of securing a spot in the program of your choice. You may also read our blog on Common Mistakes in Master’s Application Essays for Studying Abroad and 5 Secrets to Acing Applications for Top Graduate Schools.