Applying for Success

There are lots of moments when you need to market yourself, and while each one is unique, there are some things you can always do to set yourself ahead.

  • Treat your mistakes as opportunities to do better next time. Contact people who rejected you and ask for advice.
  • Keep track of deadlines. It's impossible to get everything ready the night before so plan for eventualities.
  • Your application should be written for whoever will receive it. Explain why they want you, not why you want it.
  • Request transcripts, references or letters early. Have them printed and on-hand in case they are requested.
  • Start a personal project to highlight your unique skills. Just make sure it's an achievable goal first.
  • Figure out what makes you stand above other applications. Is it your passion, or maybe your experience?
  • Every application should be unique. Reuse common points, but don't just update the date on an old cover letter.
  • Use your cover letter to tell a story. Stopped working to go back to school? Explain why it makes you valuable.
  • Make a professional email address that doesn't give away any personal information like age or religion.
  • Attendance and punctuality are huge sellers. If you have proof of reliablity and can work it into your application, do it.
  • Start planning. Even if the time for applications seems a long way off, planning ahead will save you a lot of stress.
  • Consider more than just grades. Your hobbies, awards, community work and references are worth more than you think.
  • Ensure your application looks the way you want it to by making a PDF. Secondary benefit--it's easy for people to print!
  • Check your application for spelling and grammar mistakes. Ask a few friends to look it over as well.
  • If you're heading to school in Ontario, check out www.ouac.on.ca for deadlines, resources and more.
  • Take time for you. Sending out applications is stressful-- when you've done a good job, reward yourself somehow.
  • Be selective. You can apply for 100 things badly and waste more time than applying to three well. Make your time count.
  • Give examples. Everyone 'works well with others' and is a 'good communicator'. Prove everything you say.
  • Do your research. Nothing makes you stand out more than knowing what you're talking about.
  • Update your voicemail message. Make sure you sound professional, mature and thoughtful to anyone calling.
  • Apply online or in person, as requested. If you have a choice, choose whichever will leave a better first impression.
  • Look up reviews for professors online. A boring topic can be the best choice if you like the professor's style more.
  • Save up. Tuition, an interview outfit, travel; they add up. Research and plan for expenses so you aren't surprised.
  • Know your weaknesses. Look up how your professor is grading and avoid paper-heavy classes if you're bad at them.
  • Think from the professional perspective. List what's important to the reader first and follow up with other experience.
  • Collect student viewbooks from schools you're considering. If you're having trouble deciding; visit them in person.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. It's better to ask (and fill a form out properly) than need to resubmit it.
  • Look for scholarships and work studies. Alternatively, look for funding that could pay for your work and market yourself!
  • Be open to change and admitting you were wrong. Take time to figure out what you love and are passionate about.
  • Strive towards your goals. When you're having trouble getting out of bed, remind yourself what you're doing it for.