If you do not get on your first attempt, try one or more of the following steps to increase your chances of getting accepted in the future:

  1. Apply earlier next year.  Avoid the last 6 weeks before the deadline.
  2. Apply to more schools. Six is usually considered a good number.
  3. Apply to more “safe” schools.  Even 4.0 students and those who exceed a program’s entrance criteria can, and do, get rejected.
  4. Visit the programs you really want to get into and schedule personal meetings with faculty members and admissions officers.
  5. Get great grades by taking one class at a time in your targeted subject area!  Remember, your most recent grades count the most!
  6. Get a volunteer or internship experience in the targeted field.  It will boost your credentials even if it’s part-time, a few hours per week, or unpaid.
  7. Work a job in your targeted field.  There is no substitute for actual experience.  Plus it will give you the opportunity to add recommendations from people working in the profession.
  8. Get an intermediate degree (e.g. certificate, credential, etc.).
  9. Get older and try again. Review all application materials.  Many times, that’s all it takes

Adapted from Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher (Ten Speed Press, 2000)

If you are unclear how to strengthen your candidacy, contact your admissions officer at your first choice institution.  In many cases, admissions officers are willing to tell you why you were not selected.  Take their suggestions seriously and work hard to strengthen your potential weaknesses before the next application cycle.