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Q&A: How to approach graduate school applications


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Filling a graduate school application can be a difficult process to navigate for students whether they are sure about continuing their academic career or not.

Graduate school admissions program manager Krystal Sugulleh helped explain some common questions about the process as well as provide some helpful resources for prospective students.

What does the application process look like when applying to a UH program?

Sugulleh: The first step in applying to graduate school is to go to our website. And a student is to put together their own online account through graduate school. 

And so those steps include just setting up a username, which makes sure that we have a really good email for them. And then also put together a password. On our website, we do walk students through step by step of how to apply.

How might some program requirements differ?

Sugulleh: You always want to number one, look at the overarching way how to apply, which is the graduate school website, putting together that application process. 

Then also looking at each respective program or your program of interest webpage and really going through those requirements such as GPA, ‘what kind of tests am I supposed to take?’, making sure that I’m taking the appropriate test for my particular program of interest. So that’s a good way to approach it.

Where can I find more information about UH graduate program applications?

Sugulleh: Should students ever find that they’re not getting exactly what they need from the program’s page or college’s page, then we do have graduate advisers who particularly are really good at answering any questions specific to the program. 

I do informational sessions, at least one to two times a week, typically on a Tuesday or a Thursday. This information is also on our website where students can sign up to register. 

From there, I walk students through how to apply which is the step-by-step application process. I talk to them about uploading transcripts, some other things that they may need, such as letters of recommendation and then any other additional items.

What supplemental information should be included in a graduate program application?

Sugulleh: Definitely, always a resume. Letters of recommendation, I always tell students that is really important. 

Within the application process, you want to have a really good, full name of whoever’s going to be put down as your recommender, first and last name as well as a good email for them. Typically, the program does ask that you do a personal statement, basically why you’re interested in graduate school and really telling graduate school programs a little bit more about yourself. 

There are some programs such as architecture, who may particularly want a portfolio.

What are common questions you get about the application process?

Sugulleh: Right now the big push is going out if the GRE score is going to be waived. During the pandemic, we did and during COVID-19, particular programs have selected to waive GRE scores. 

However, not all colleges have been doing that. So it’s really important for students, always just going back to the college to figure out if that’s something that they’re continuing to do or if it’s still a requirement. 

So that’s been a lot of the questions, you know, ‘is the GRE waived?’ or another question we get a lot is about English proficiency requirements. 

Most of our international students are looking at ‘what are the options if I can’t take some of the tests?’, or ‘(what are the options) if testing sites are not open, especially due to COVID?’.

That’s a really common question about English proficiency, ‘is this a requirement?’ and it is a requirement.

How should international students approach the application process?

Sugulleh: Getting things in a little bit earlier than the deadline, because you just never know how long that processing might take. For instance, I’ll use I-20’s, I know that sometimes that takes a little bit longer for processing.

So really make sure that you’re getting your information in well ahead of the deadline. For instance, if there’s an early or regular admission deadline, you want to try and get priority or do early admissions if you can.

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