by Tyra Vanriel
I want to start off by congratulating you for taking the next step to pursue higher education by applying to graduate school! Although this is an exciting time, I understand it can be overwhelming to get started, so I have a few gems to assist you. I have divided my advice into six sections — (1) Where should you begin? (2) Keeping yourself organized (3) Recommendation Letters (4) Statement of Purpose (5) Deadlines and (6) Review and revise
Where should you begin?
Applicants may only have one application open at a time when applying to Teachers College. Considering this, it is important to narrow down your program of interest by visiting our program-specific web pages to find information regarding research opportunities, courses, and certifications your program may offer. Be cognizant of any supplemental materials your program requires upon your application submission, such as academic writing samples, video submissions, portfolios, or additional program-specific questions embedded in the application. I recommend that you visit our Admissions Events page to view scheduled virtual information sessions for your program, financial aid information, admissions information, and the Teachers College virtual campus tour to get a better sense of what TC offers. If you want to hear more about your program or Teachers College from students, you can connect with a student ambassador to talk and learn more.
Keeping yourself organized
Once you begin your application, I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet as a checklist to keep yourself organized. You can add deadlines, application requirements, and check off the completed items. If your program requires GREs or English proficiency test (TOEFL/IELTS) scores, be sure to submit those on time so they are received before your application deadline.
The Teachers College application platform (TC Pathway Portal) also has a checklist on the homepage, which will update you on what items we have received or are missing. You can also utilize reminder apps or software that will send notifications for upcoming deadlines to help you throughout the application process. This organizational style is incredibly helpful, especially when applying to multiple institutions.
Your program will specify the number of required professional and/or academic recommenders. Make sure that you ask someone who knows you well enough to be able to write about your qualities and/or experiences (this is usually a couple of pages or more) — having a recommendation letter that only states that you were a student in the professor’s class and what grade you received in the course does not illustrate anything about you as a person. Therefore, choose your recommenders wisely! It may be helpful to share your resume/cover letter or statement of purpose with your recommenders and tell them why you are interested in applying to your program. The recommendation letters should be written with a professional letter heading. You can submit your application before your recommender submits your letter; however, the recommendation letter must be received before the application deadline.
Statement of Purpose
While using the same Statement of Purpose for multiple graduate schools is tempting, this is not the time to do that! Not only are you inviting the possibility of submitting a Statement of Purpose that addresses the wrong institution (Yes! People have done this!), but it will also need to be more specific and outline why you are applying to Teachers College. Your Statement of Purpose should outline (1) why you want to apply to TC specifically, (2) why now, and (3) why you. This includes describing why you are interested in TC or what encouraged you to apply to your program. You can include why you are applying now, such as what has happened in your life to inspire this or what experience you have that makes this a great time for a transition to graduate school. And, of course, you want to write about what makes you a perfect candidate for the program, what qualities you can contribute during your time at TC, and what makes you stand out from other candidates. Overall, this essay should be 2-3 pages double-spaced.
We recommend that you apply by the priority deadline to give yourself the best opportunity for scholarship and admission consideration. If your program offers rolling admissions, it is important to recognize that applications are reviewed in the order they are received and based on space availability. Be sure to apply as soon as possible since the rolling deadline (June 1 for Summer and July 1 for Fall) may close earlier once capacity has been met. You will receive emails periodically to remind you of the upcoming application deadlines, but be sure to add the deadlines to the calendar on your phone or in your planner to keep yourself on track.
Review and Revise
Before you submit your application, make sure that you proofread for errors! It does not look professional if you have grammatical or spelling mistakes throughout your application and materials. I recommend that you have a friend, family member, or academic professional (professor, advisor, program director, etc.) review your statement of purpose, any supplemental material, and the questions within the application for errors and provide constructive criticism. Another set of eyes is always better to catch mistakes you may have missed and add additional information that strengthens your application. To officially submit your application, you must fill out the signature section and pay the $75 application fee.
Please remember that here at Teachers College, we use a holistic approach during the review process. We do not have any specific GRE scores or GPA requirements/cutoffs, but make sure your overall application is solid and competitive. We consider all aspects of your application, including any hardships you may have described in your application. If we are missing any application requirements, you will receive an email to fulfill these components. However, you are responsible for ensuring that the Office of Admissions receives all of your application requirements by the deadline.
Lastly, if you need clarification on any aspects of the application, please review our How to Apply website with Step-by-step instructions or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with your application process!