Admission to degree programs: tips and tricks

Getting admitted to the program of your choice is not always that easy. There seems to be a lot a paperwork involved that drives a lot of prospective students crazy. In this blog I will give you some pointers on how to make the admission process a fairly easy ride.

Rule number 1: Always try to submit an application that is complete. An application that has all the required documents (and is neatly organized) will often be handled first. Incomplete applications involve a lot of emailing to and fro. This is something admission officers do not like to do.

Complete applications generally consist of:

  • Completed application form
  • Certified copies of school or university diploma(s)
  • Certified English Language Proficiency Test score (IELTS or TOEFL)
  • GMAT, GRE test score (mostly for MBA or Science programs)
  • Statement of motivation
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • CV
  • Copy of your valid passport

Rule number 2: Your statement of motivation should be about your motivation to join the program. Not about the fact that you want or need a scholarship. Although scholarships are very important to a lot of students; you should avoid creating the impression that a scholarship is the reason you are applying for the program.

Mentioning the word scholarship is not going to speed up the admission process either.

As soon as you have been admitted to the program, you can apply for a scholarship. In order to do so you will need to send the scholarship organization a copy of your admission letter.

Rule number 3: Trying to get in to a master program requires having a bachelor degree in the same (or a related) field of study. When I was working as an admissions officer for the University of Leiden, I saw a lot of applications from students who had done a bachelor in English Language and Literature who tried to get in to an LLM program. Save yourself the trouble. This is not going to work.

Master programs require indepth knowlegde of a particular field of study. Especially for Law or Science masters.

The status of high school and bachelor diplomas also tends to differ per country. Here is an overview of diplomas per country that are required for admission to a Dutch degree program:

Rule number 4: Asking for an exemption from the English language test although your are not a native speaker. This is not going to work. The following students are generally exempted from doing an English language test:

  • US, UK, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and Irish nationals
  • Students who did an IB program or did a bachelor/master at an official English speaking university

If you do not meet these requirements….face it…you have to do the test. Bargaining rarely helps.

Try taking the test before applying to the program. Admission officers want to see that you meet the requirements before they process your file.

If you yourself have any tips…feel free to place a comment.

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