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EP 17: Strategies & Tips On College, University, and Master’s Applications

Are you looking to apply to a Master’s program? Or maybe you’re in high school thinking about taking the next step towards college or university? In Episode 17 on the show our host and Top Writer Cath Anne provided strategies on how to make your applications count and get into your dream school.

Looking for study tips, help with essay writing, or advice on how to be a better student? Welcome to The Homework Help Show, a weekly show where we teach, assist, and offer valuable insights for student life. From study hacks to writing tips, discussions about student mental health to step-by-step guides on academic writing and how to write a resume, we’ve got you covered. Want your questions answered? Write them below or join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #askHHG


Cath Anne: [00:00:05] Today we’re discussing how to write and apply to universities and colleges. I’m going to be going back for back and forth between Instagram live and my web cam because we do record these for YouTube. As I mentioned before, my name is Cath Anne, and I am the host and Top Writer at Homework Help Global’s, The Homework Help Show.

Cath Anne: [00:00:37] It’s a weekly livestream that we do. It is about student life as well as academic life. We try to give you advice tips and tricks to help you navigate student life and being a student and all that entails. So, as I mentioned this week, we’re going to be talking about how to really maximize your potential when you are writing applications for university and college.

Cath Anne: [00:01:06] I know that at this point in the year those applications are starting to come up and you’re also trying to navigate all of the other responsibilities that come along with school like papers and tests and exams. I wanted to give you some support around writing those applications. This session is great for anyone, really because I think these tenets kind of apply to both students as well as when you get into the working world and you start writing resumes and applications these can apply to there too.

Cath Anne: [00:01:43] So, really this session is great for students who are in high school and they are looking at applying for the first time to university or college. But, it’s also really great for students who are already in an undergraduate degree and they’re looking to apply to a Master’s program or other another post-graduate program or even a college.

Cath Anne: [00:02:06] These are just some tips and tricks that we’ve picked up along the way and some content that we’ve developed specifically around this topic. If that appeals to you, please continue to tune in. I won’t take up too much of your time, but I do have some really good information for you.

Cath Anne: [00:02:28] First of all, I wanted to just say that we do host this show on a weekly basis. Last week we took a little bit of a break. But, we’re back this week, and we want to give you some really great content this week.

Cath Anne: [00:02:42] So, as I mentioned as first semester is beginning to wrap up, of course, it is the time of year where you have to apply to college. Today, there is a lot of weight placed in having a higher education and sometimes that means you have to apply to multiple programs following your undergraduate, if that is the route that you wish to pursue. Now, you might graduate from your undergraduate or your college degree or you might even just graduate from high school and go into the working world. That is totally fine. But, if you do choose to go the academic route, and choose to engage in higher education, then you’re going to have to apply to some different universities. So, if you do have the desire to apply to a Master’s or another program, I’d like to provide you with some information about how to best write these applications, because they can be a little bit tricky sometimes.

Cath Anne: [00:03:55] So, as I mentioned, as well these tips can apply to applying to jobs and applying to university or college. If you are a high school student as well so it’s not just specific to people who are looking to go to a Master’s degree or even a doctorate degree. These tips can really apply to anyone.

Cath Anne: [00:04:17] I kind of want to start off the session by saying, I just want to put this out there that, university and college are not for everyone. There was a time when university and college were pushed as something that everyone had to do. Nowadays, there are a lot of other options. I don’t dissuade people from pursuing a university or college degree because that education and that experience is absolutely invaluable. But, if you’re the type of person that doesn’t feel compelled to attend college or university, or you feel like you want to wait to decide. Definitely trust your gut and go with what you want to do.

Cath Anne: [00:05:03] If you have an amazing entrepreneurial idea that you want to pursue. There’s so much opportunity out there now. I would say go for it and pursue it. I was just reading a really great post on media about letting go of our cultural definition of success. The article proposed that we all we don’t all have to follow the same path by going to Ivy League universities or prestigious programs. Sometimes this idea gets pushed that we have to have everything figured out you know by our 20s or by 25 or even by 30 and it’s just not the case. You can pursue your life’s path the way you want to. So, if you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by the process of figuring out what your future holds, keep heart and know that not everyone has the same path and that you can carve your own path. It doesn’t necessarily have to follow what other people are doing or fall in line with what North American or Western culture dictates that you need to do. I mean certainly education is never a bad thing, but there are all kinds of ways to gain an education. Follow your dream. Even if you don’t know what that is. Start taking steps towards finding out, so that might mean applying to a university degree and getting a little bit of education. Or maybe that means taking advantage of that really great business idea. So whatever it is move in the direction of your happiness. Whatever you think your happiness is going to entail, and the rest will fall into place. I promise.

Cath Anne: [00:06:52] One of the first steps in doing this is, and I was just having a conversation with my friend about this today, is avoid comparing yourself to other people. Everyone’s life is going to look different and you need to make sure that you’re doing what is best for you. So, I know this sounds a bit of a lecture, but this is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot today, and that I just wanted to pass on in case anyone is feeling a little bit down, you know just keep heart and follow what is best for you.

Cath Anne: [00:07:28] (To Instagram Viewer): Hello. I see someone jumped on I don’t know who it is but nice to see you. It’s Cath Anne.

Cath Anne: [00:07:36] Today we’re talking about how do you write strong college applications. But, I was just talking about how college and university isn’t necessarily for everyone. Hi Andrew. And if you do feel compelled to do something different. By all means pursue that dream.

Cath Anne: [00:08:01] (To Instagram Viewer): Are you a student currently or? You’re a student. What school they go to? If you don’t mind saying, what are you taking? Bachelor of Arts? or Bachelor of Science? Oh, you’re looking to apply to a Master’s degree in Switzerland. That’s exciting. Cool. I think that would be great. I think that is a really wise thing to study right now. I think MBA is a great degree to have. Oh and you’re in Croatia. I have a friend who, I’m in Canada, but I have a friend who was originally from Croatia, that I went to high school with. So, you’re looking to apply to Business Admin. Yeah, I think it’s a really great program to have right now. I think business skills are necessary the way the world is going. So, I think that’s a really smart idea and you’re looking. Are you looking to do a master’s in business as well? Well, I’m glad that you came, Andrew, because we are going to give you some tips about how to apply to schools, so hopefully this will be helpful for you, and if you do have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Cath Anne: [00:10:16] So, I’m going to jump into the content. I just kind of gave an overview about, if you don’t feel like you’re the type of person to pursue the academic path, there are all kinds of paths out there. So, don’t get discouraged. Do follow your dream. Follow what makes you happy.

Cath Anne: [00:10:44] (To Instagram Viewer): Just undergrad. I just paused because I caught your question, Mandy. What do you mean just undergrad? The tips that I’m giving can apply to either a Master’s application or an undergraduate application. Certainly I’ve applied to, I think three Master’s programs, so I can definitely share some of my thoughts on that as well. Yeah, they’re both similar. I definitely think that Master’s programs are a bit more in depth. You’re right. So, we can talk a little bit about that are you thinking of applying to a Master’s program. Yes.

Cath Anne: [00:11:47] (To Instagram Viewer): If you do have any questions, I don’t know everything, but I can definitely share my expertise, and share some of my thoughts about my own experience. So, just so you guys know I do work for Homework Help Global, I’m one of their top writers and I host this show. I also have a background in social work. So, I’ve done quite a few years of college and university as well. So, to see you guys kind of know my background, I know you guys have been haven’t been here, so just to give a little bit of background on myself. So, you’ve already completed your undergrad and what are you thinking of taking for your Master’s?

Cath Anne: [00:12:54] So, I guess first off I wanted to just kind of talk about, and I mean Mandy, this relates to what you’re saying is that every application seems to be different. I don’t know if you’ve looked into many of the applications yet, but I found when I was applying to schools that each school kind of had different requirements.

Cath Anne: [00:13:17] First of all, it’s really important to read the applications thoroughly and understand what their requirements are because sometimes it can take some time to gather up all the information that is required of the application. You really don’t want to leave that until the last minute. (To Instagram Viewer): So, Mandy you’re are thinking of possibly a direct entry nursing program that offers RN and NP accelerated. Okay cool, yeah. I think that’s a great way to go, too. I mean nursing is always going to be a needed profession, and it’s well paid which it should be because you’re taking care of people’s health. I think it’s definitely on the rise. Nursing seems to be becoming more popular and it’s rewarding because you get to help people, so that’s a really noble profession.

Cath Anne: [00:14:20] In terms of what I want to share with you guys today, first, the most important part of an application is that you’re going to want to make sure that you do your research thoroughly. Mandy, I am talking to you, but I’m also talking to the camera on my computer, as well because we record these sessions and put them up on YouTube. So, I am speaking with you. I just want you to think that I’m ignoring you.

Cath Anne: [00:14:50] So when you’re applying, find out which program most interests you and dig into the criteria which are required of you. So in your application you can use the information you gave in your research to make a case for being a good fit for that particular university.

Cath Anne: [00:15:10] Some universities abide by a specific approach. So, for example, when I applied to social work school, I knew that schools like York and Ryerson had a specifically anti-oppressive and critical focus. When I was writing my applications, I wrote them through that lens. I had to do some research on what was critical social work and what was anti-oppressive social work. It’s really important to understand the theories and perspectives each school promotes in order to determine if it aligns with your goals as a professional and your values.

Cath Anne: [00:15:51] (To Instagram Viewer): You need the most help with your essay. OK. Do you know what the essay requires, Mandy? Is it like a letter of intent? Do you need a word around figuring out what to write or how to write it? I’m going to keep going because, Mandy seems like Instagram has dropped off there for minutes.

Cath Anne: [00:17:13] Another really great tip is that this is also a really good time to look at potential professors that they would like to collaborate with in terms of research. If you’re entering your research program, particularly if you’re applying to a Master’s, finding professors whose work interests you can really be an asset.

Cath Anne: [00:17:30] If you go on the website, the school’s website, there’s usually a section that I’ll have a breakdown of each professor that teaches at that school and the types of things that they teach. The reason that this is really great is because you can use this information and if you’re intrigued by a certain professor, this is something that you can mention in your application. Usually if you’re applying to a Master’s program they’re going to ask you about your potential research. A Master’s usually requires some component of research. So, they’re going to ask you about what kind of research that you are going to produce as a student.

Cath Anne: [00:18:12] Using the name of the professor and drawing on what they’ve researched if you don’t really have an idea of what your research is going to look like, can be a really beneficial way to get in there and show the university that you’re invested in that school and in becoming a student at that school. Another reason this is really great is because schools require research in order to sustain funding and to keep going as a University and also for accreditation purposes.

Cath Anne: [00:18:47] This is a very strategic maneuver to mention a particular professor and to discuss what kinds of things that you’re interested in researching because this can look really great for your application. It shows that you have a commitment to that school, in particular, and that you have something to invest into that school. You’re not only asking them to take you on, you’re showing what you can provide as a future student of that school. That is a highly recommended strategy for this process.

Cath Anne: [00:19:57] Secondly, it might be tempting to leave your application to the last minute. They can definitely seem daunting, because there is a large component of writing to them, particularly if you’re applying to a master’s degree. But, leaving them to the last minute is not recommended. I know that it can seem like a lot of work to do on top of the work that you’re already probably doing in your classes.

Cath Anne: [00:21:00] Taking the time to write strong college applications is just going to be invaluable to you in your future in academia. So, all these applications require a certain amount of sealed transcripts and other pieces of information. Maybe you’ve gone to a few different undergraduate schools and you might have to track down your transcripts from all of those places. So, that takes time because they have to be mailed.

Cath Anne: [00:21:35] A lot of schools will not e-mail or fax; they require an official transcript, so it’s really important to look ahead and look at what’s going to be required of your application and make sure you give yourself lots of time to fulfill those requirements. You also have to write a letter of intent or some essay component. Sometimes there are ones with different questions to them. You want to give yourself lots of time particularly if you’re applying to multiple different schools. Different schools can ask different things of you and you don’t want to write the same essay for different schools. It’s just not good practice.

Cath Anne: [00:22:20] I highly recommend giving yourself at least a few months, if not longer to prepare your applications. You also have to write your resume, or your curriculum vitae, depending on which format you choose. That can take some time. Remember this is a school that you really want to get into. Make sure you’re writing meaningfully and with intent because if you choose not to spend time on this the people that are reading the applications they’re going to be your future professors and they’re going to be people who are screening to see if you are a good fit for this institution. They are going to be able to tell if you’re invested, so you’re really going to want to write with meaning, write with intent. Another is to, after you’ve finished your application, you might feel that it’s kind of a highly personalized document I find. You might be sensitive to not wanting to have someone else to read it. However, it’s important that you give a second pair of eyes when you are about to submit your application.

Cath Anne: [00:23:51] It is important to get a second set of eyes when you’re applying to a school. Of course, you’re going to want anything that you write to be proof read. This is also something that Homework Help Global can help with if you do require some editing or proofreading, get in touch with Homework Help Global and we can certainly take a look over your application and make any recommendations or edits that you require. You can also ask a good friend or a colleague or parent. Even an old professor, probably would be likely happy to look over your application.

Cath Anne: [00:24:32] Yes, so you want to make sure that it’s not just you reading it and that you always have a second set of eyes looking at your application, regardless of who it is.

Cath Anne: [00:24:42] Another thing that I just kind of thought of is too in terms of my last tip that I gave about giving yourself lots of time. Applications usually require at least two to three references and these tend to be either academic and maybe one personal or work type of reference. Make sure you’re choosing your references wisely. You want to make sure that it is someone who knows you pretty well, who knows your work, and who’s going to make a good reference for you.

Cath Anne: [00:25:12] You don’t want to choose someone who doesn’t really know you that well who can write something specific about you. Give yourself time to do that as well. The best approach when you’re looking for references is to always ask the person first if you can use them as a reference in particular when you’re doing Master’s applications it’s likely that they’ll have to write something.

Cath Anne: [00:25:39] Keeping that in mind just make sure you give yourself lots of time to approach that person or to write them a nice email and request that they support you in your academic future.

Cath Anne: [00:25:54] Another thing to be mindful of when you’re writing your applications is don’t pretend to be someone else. So, it really might be tempting to embellish your accomplishments or write about things that you don’t really know about thinking that make you seem more appealing. It’s like a resume. You know, you’re trying to sell yourself in a way, but the truth is if you don’t tell the truth about yourself and if you’re not being genuine it will come through in your writing. The last thing you want to do when you’re applying to a school is to be caught in an untruth.

Cath Anne: [00:26:31] Just like who you are shine through and your skills shine through and you will likely be accepted to the college or university of your choice. In combination with all of those strategies I don’t see why not. Like I said if you do need some more support with something please let us know at Homework Help Global and we’d be more than happy to help you out.

Cath Anne: [00:27:00] So, when you’re writing your application it’s kind of like a resume or cover letter. It’s not just going to be a list of your skills or accomplishments or things that you’ve done. It’s going to be an infused version of all these things.

[00:27:23] Make sure that you’re using real life examples, and experiences to tie in your skills, and to demonstrate how you use these skills. That is how people are going to become engaged, and get to know you through your piece of writing.

[00:27:39] For example, if you’re applying to a Master’s degree and you have done some research, say you took a sociology course and you conducted a brief survey in your community, use that in your application and demonstrate how you used research skills in the past. Definitely, some applications ask for specific information.

[00:28:04] Make sure that you’re always tying into your real life experiences and that will come across as much more genuine and the people reading at the other end will really get a sense of who you are.

[00:28:17] That’s kind of all the content that I have specifically in regards to applications, but I wanted to give you a little less tip that can help your applications possibly in the future. So, right now, maybe you are an undergrad and maybe you just finished high school and you don’t feel like you have much to contribute. Maybe you’re really engaged as a student and you’re involved in all the committees and sports teams, but maybe you weren’t.

[00:28:48] Today it seems that there is more competition for jobs and that people really are engaged in developing their lives. So, you really want to be giving people a reason to find you interesting. When you graduate from school, become more than just your GPA. As the job market is becoming more competitive, it’s really important to stand out from the crowd. Take some time, when you’re writing these applications, to think about what makes you unique. Have you started your own small business? Even if you didn’t in high school, that’s really interesting. Have you been involved with volunteering or starting up a group in your community in some way? Have you been interviewed on a podcast? Do you play a sport? All of these things are what make you unique, and things that make you really interesting and that make you stand out from the crowd. Think about the ways that you can use your uniqueness to promote yourself to your new school. But, if you don’t feel like you have that much that is unique can you think of ways that you can start to become more engaged in making yourself more interesting? While it might seem like a waste of time to you to join a volleyball team when you’re invested in your undergrad, participation and engagement in those kinds of things can open up so many new opportunities for networking, for meeting new people and it can definitely increase your interesting factor.

[00:30:23] So just think about it. If a CEO of a company asks how you’ve engage in teamwork. One person discusses a work environment, and you relate your experience to a volleyball tournament. That just makes you stand out from the crowd and makes things a little bit different for you and might give you an advantage in a competitive work environment. The same thing applies to college applications. So, if you’re thinking about potentially applying to a Master’s or university in some capacity, think about ways that you can make yourself interesting, and it’s also going to do you something to look forward to and to live for.

[00:31:04] So, it’s really important that we be mindful of how we are more than our jobs and we are more than what we do in school. Make yourself interesting and make yourself appealing to employers and future universities. It is going to contribute a lot to your life as well.

[00:31:28] As I mentioned if you’re looking for more information on how to write your applications check us out on Medium. We have an accompanying blog post to this video. So, we will link that below. You can also find links to our website if you do need support around writing your applications.

[00:31:52] That’s it for this week. I can’t believe that Episode 17, already. I really hope this was of benefit to you, and if you do want to gain any more access to any of our content from Homework Help Global. Please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus and YouTube. We’re online Medium. We write blog posts there. We’re on SoundCloud, Anchor, iTunes Apple Podcasts and Google Play in terms of audio, and all you have to do is search Homework Help Global and you will find us. I hope you guys all have a really great week and I will talk to you soon. See ya later!