I’ve always loved January for its promise of a clean slate. The possibilities that the “new year” presents seem endless, like anything is possible and nothing can hold you back. I also get to buy a new calendar, which is always exciting.
This January holds something a bit more special for me personally because I have officially started my final semester in the MCOM program. In just four short months, I will have the privilege of calling myself an alumna of the University of Charleston S.C. and moving forward in my career with one heck of an advantage. The knowledge and skills I have gained since my first semester goes far beyond the classroom, as do the connections and relationships that I have been able to cultivate as an MCOM scholar.
Speaking of new adventures, January is also a great month to begin applying to those graduate programs you’ve been researching! The Master of Arts in Communication program at the University of Charleston, S.C. is currently accepting applications for the 2017-2018 Academic Year, so below I have included some tips for navigating the application process.
Pay Attention to the Admissions Criteria: Not adhering to the admissions criteria is a great way to get your application rejected before the review process even begins. If you need two letters of recommendation, make sure you have at least two references lined up to submit letters. Ensure that your official transcripts arrive in sealed envelopes from your undergraduate institution in a timely manner. Double check the list of required materials and follow up with the receiving department to make sure everything arrived by the published application deadline. Even though it is not explicitly stated in the criteria, make sure your application does not contain spelling or grammatical errors.
Ask Questions: If you have a question about what the admissions committee is looking for in your personal statement or your writing sample, now is a great time to ask! If you’re concerned about your writing sample (too long/short, vague, outdated, etc.) reach out to the program director; he or she will usually be more than happy to respond to your questions and concerns. The same goes for the personal statement. If you want to do an animated short instead of the required 1,000-word essay, you will want to confirm that the Admissions Committee is open to your creativity rather than offended by your inability to follow instructions.
Recruit Recommenders Early: Your letters of recommendation are an important piece of your admissions application. In short, graduate programs are interested in learning about the real you, not the snapshot provided by standardized tests and writing samples. Make sure you give your potential recommenders enough time to complete letters before the application deadline. Keep in mind that your letter is not the only thing on their to-do list, so providing at least a month for letter completion is ideal. In addition, do not forget to give your references accurate and up-to-date information about you, including past academic/employment experience, coursework completed, any publications or certifications earned, extra-curricular activities as well as your reason for applying to a particular school/program. Providing dossier materials can help each reference write a tailored and detailed letter about your academic and professional qualifications.
Talk with Current Students in Your Prospective Program: Visiting campus and meeting with current students in the program is the best way to “try on” your prospective program. Ask to sit in on a class or take a tour of the campus. If you can, tour the city as well. Discover entertainment opportunities or investigate the housing situation. Current graduate students are always able to give an relevant and reliable picture of their graduate experience. They are also a great resource on non-academic questions like housing, social activities, night life, etc.
Our program is unique in that it can be tailored to your interests in communication. In addition, several funding opportunities are available for both in-state and out-of-state students as well as full-time and part-time students. Finally, our faculty have strong ties to the community and their fields of expertise, which gives MCOM students an advantage in experiential learning opportunities as well as professional networking and mentoring relationships.
Happy new year, and best wishes for a productive and prosperous 2017!