Are you in the middle of choosing what to do for your Masters study? Do you think it’s important to have a realistic notion of your admission chances before sending your university applications? Although no one can guarantee your success with absolute certainty, there are ways to assess your chances and help you choose wisely.
Check if you fulfil the admissions requirements
Most international graduate programmes taught in English ask applicants to submit particular test scores. These could include tests that show your proficiency in the English language such as IELTS or TOEFL or aptitude tests such as GMAT or GRE. As programmes have different test preferences and score requirements, it may be a good idea to research them in advance. For example, if you want to study business and management in Germany, what are the test requirements of some business Masters programmes in the country? Are they similar or do they differ significantly? This will help you to gauge the test performance you should strive for.
The reverse approach can also be handy. If you are convinced that an English language certificate or an aptitude test score will benefit your application, start by obtaining those. Once you have your scores, you will have a tangible method for comparing universities and excluding the ones whose criteria you do not fulfil.
Of course, gaining admission to a good Masters programme depends on much more than test scores. Applicants should be honest with themselves when it comes to the strengths and weaknesses in their student profile. Your Bachelor’s GPA, your letter of motivation, and your overall fit for the programme at hand will also affect whether you get accepted or not. So, before applying to multiple universities at once, consider whether you meet their requirements fully.
Study the class profile
Universities understand that applicants need to assess their chances of admission realistically and in the context of a particular programme. If you want to get a handle on the competition, be sure to look over the current class profile of the programmes you are interested in which can usually be found on their official websites in the form of an infographic. The class profile is a collection of stats and facts about the students who are currently attending that programme. How many of them enrolled in this year’s class? Where do they come from? What are their average GMAT or GRE scores? You can usually find a breakdown of their academic background as well.
These bits of information can be useful by giving you an idea of the type of student who fits the programme. However, it’s important that you don’t estimate your chances solely based on an infographic. Universities purposefully look for unique applicants with distinctive features so don’t worry if you don’t fully recognise yourself in the class profile of the programme. Instead, evaluate the unique contribution that you can make to that diverse class.
Find information first-hand
Being realistic about your strengths and weaknesses and studying the competition are viable ways to see where you could gain admission. Another tactic, however, would be to look for insights from the outside world and within the source itself. Nowadays there are dozens of events, both online and offline, where Masters aspirants can get a feel for the schools and programmes where they belong. Some formats such as Access Masters One-to-One are highly personalised and enable prospective students to meet representatives from relevant programmes face-to-face. Essentially, this is your chance to ask all the university-related questions that you didn’t manage to answer by yourself. Perhaps you didn’t find an updated class profile for a couple of Masters programmes online? One-to-one meetings with admissions representatives can be a great opportunity to acquire this type of information.
Other events may instead focus on one particular institution. Through webinars or face-to-face presentations and campus visits, prospective Masters students can explore and learn more details about one of the Masters programmes on their shortlist. In addition, keep in mind that these events gather many more applicants like you in one place. If you are looking to boost your networking game or hope to see a different point of view about the application process, campus visits and institutional events are a great start. Ask your peers what their individual approaches were and consider how you can apply their best practices to your own application.
Get your individual profile evaluated
Another option at your fingertips is the profile evaluation that some university admissions offices provide. Typically, you will need to fill out an online form (an attached CV/resume can also be helpful) with the information relevant to your application – programme of interest, academic background, career goals, etc. Your data is then reviewed by admissions officers and you will be advised on your eligibility to apply. This can also happen in person during a campus visit or personal meetings with admissions representatives at education events. However, to be clear – admissions officers will be able to tell you if you are eligible, but they cannot tell you whether you will be admitted. This decision is taken by the admissions committee.
Improve or consider other options
No matter what your final shortlist of programmes looks like, you need to strive for improvement if you want to present your best application package. Do you think your admission test results could go up with some more preparation and a small nudge in the right direction? Don’t be afraid to sit an exam such as the GMAT for a second time, especially since, ultimately, only your highest score counts.
At the same time, if you have a dream school that seems beyond your reach, no one can stop you from giving it a try. After all, the most prestigious schools always claim that they are not all about grades and scores but about appreciating the individuality and potential of each candidate. However, remember that gaining admission would still be a bit of a stretch without ticking all the necessary criteria. So you would do well to prepare other more realistic application options.