So, you drafted up your statement of purpose. You filled out countless forms. You had your profs write glowing letters of recommendation. And now you’re waiting for those programs to call back. But… what if you don’t get in? It’s not a situation most students have a plan for. Websites dedicated to program applications have pages and pages devoted to how to apply, but not much on what to do if you don’t get in.
REMEMBER-- It’s not the end of the world! I myself am a survivor of the failed application year, and just got into a great program after applying again one year later. The situation IS workable! I have some of the steps that I know helped me, and might help you too.
1. Take a look at your graduation plan. Consult with your faculty and a prof or two. In some cases, your best plan might be to delay your graduation for one year. Or, you can remain a student in your program. Spend that year taking extra high-level coursework. If you already have an advisor in your faculty, you might be able to spend the year doing some research work—a HUGE plus on applications.
2. If you are going to graduate this year, why not consider enrolling as a Special Student? See if your faculty allows this—it’ll enable you to take some extra courses to demonstrate your dedication to the area. For info on becoming a Special Student at the U of M, go to http://www.umanitoba.ca/student/admissions/requirements/special.shtml
3. A year off to work, provided you work in the field in which you want to continue to study, is not at all a detriment. In fact, it can be a huge bonus! For example, a year spent in a lab can be a big asset in a biochem application. Going into social work? Work at a crisis centre over the year!
What about applying for other, similar programs? Some are easier to get into than others. For example, if you want to go into psych but are really interested in volunteerism or health, why not consider some Rec. Studies programs?
4. Consider a one-year certificate course in a related field. You might be able to get an applied counseling certificate before our psych grad school program, or a medical technician certificate before med school, or a personal trainer certificate before a physiotherapy program.
Try to identify weak points in your application an fix them. You could take the time this year to re-write the GRE or MCAT, without having 27 credit hours on top of studying for the big test! Look at where you might have been lacking (work/research experience, volunteerism, etc.) and do it this year!
5. Devote more time to researching programs. Remember that you’re deciding how to spend the next several years of your life. Costs and funding differ by institution and program. Look at restrictions or bonuses offered to non-local applicants. If you’re prepared to move, look at out-of-province or U.S. programs.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make it in the first time you apply. Advanced degree programs are very competitive. Use this year to build up you profile and make those applications for next year even more stunning than they were this year!