Thangachi’s Corner: Seven Steps to Acceptance

November 6, 2013             

CTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature every other Wednesday called “Thangachi’s Corner”. “Thangachi’s Corner” is a comfortable space to discuss relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!


Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

Well, it’s that time of year again. Applications.

Maybe you’re applying to grad school. You’re rolling around your last year of undergrad and are considering further education. Maybe you’re applying to a professional program after a year of well-deserved break. Or maybe you’re still in high school considering your options and revelling in the notion that the world is still your oyster.

But regardless of your position in the academic hierarchy, the application process is no fun. It’s long and tiresome, causing stress, inducing anxiety, and continuing to plague the mind until the moment you realize you’re sick of looking over your personal statement for the umpteenth time. Instead, you just send in the application before you change your mind or lose it, whichever comes first.

But no fear, friend. Seeing as I’ve only filled out about twenty applications in the past two years, allow me to share my wisdom so that you may at least retain a fraction more sanity than I did when I went through the same process a while back.


Ready? Here we go:

1)      Start early. If your deadline is in December and you’re only now thinking that perhaps you’d like to see yourself in a Master’s program next September, you’re probably too late. Or at least, too late to have a reasonably calm and enjoyable application process (though, to be fair, you will be hard-pressed to find a calm and enjoyable application process anywhere).

2)      Volunteer in your field. You never know if you are really passionate about a career until you spend a day in its life. Take some time to experience what you think your next degree or diploma is going to lead to. Volunteering doesn’t hurt your application, either. After all, schools like to know that you’re dedicated enough in their field to work for free.

3)      Have a professor look at your personal statement. The personal statement is one of the hardest parts of the application process. It’s a high-pressure demand to sell yourself in five hundred words, and most of us are at a loss as to which information we should add or omit. But you never know which of your professors were on an applicant selection committee once upon a time, so do some research and get some input. Teachers and professors were students too, and they’ll be your best bet at drafting an effective statement.

4)      Have a professor look at your portfolio. Some programs require a portfolio as part of the application process. If you’re unsure whether yours is as strong as it could be, show it to a professor in your field for some feedback. If you’re submitting an essay you wrote for a previous class, send it back to the professor who’d originally marked it and ask for tips on how to improve the essay for a greater standard. You’d be surprised by how much they can offer.

5)      Go to office hours.  Seriously. Just go. Even if you don’t have a question. When you apply to any kind of institution, you’re going to need reference letters and your professors are probably going to be your best bet. When graduate and professional schools screen reference letters, they’re not looking for the percentile of the class average you scored during your finals, or that you’re a textbook “hard-working and dedicated student”. They’re looking to see whether your professor knew you on a personal level. Most professors have a recommendation template, and while they may agree to produce a letter on your behalf, they don’t always have to write a positive review. Because of that, you’re going to want to talk to people who inherently want you to succeed, who take a genuine personal interest in you. To ensure that your professor writes you the best possible recommendation, ask if you can meet for a twenty-minute interview and describe your academic aspirations as well as the experience you already have that will help you get there. And if you’re still in high school? Well, it still doesn’t hurt to be a sycophant. You know.

6)      Order transcripts. Depending on your academic goals, chances are you are going to need at least three transcripts. And don’t our beloved institutions love to charge us eleven bucks for each one. Ignoring the fact that you may be getting robbed for a couple of sheets of flimsy paper, make sure that you order your transcripts early enough to allow for delivery before your application due date.

7)      Figure out the technology and submit early. If your institution asks you to upload all of your documents onto their website, either do it well in advance, or make sure that you’re familiar with the system. Because things can go wrong. And if you’re as lucky as I am, things will go wrong the day before your application is due. To avoid that, aim to submit your application package at least a week before your deadline. And if you’re sending your application via snail mail, tack on an extra five days—because who really needs that headache?

And there you have it—seven foolproof steps to making your application process a little easier and a load more successful. If after all of this brilliance, you still find yourself facing rejection at your dream institution… Well, come on—you’re taking advice from a girl who had to fill out twenty applications to increase her chances at acceptance. How successful do you think I am, exactly?

About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author with an eye for the eccentricities of the Tamil Canadian culture. As an unemployed student with a mountain load of student debt, she is currently broke, so you will probably be able to relate to her. As a writer, she has a special kind of wit that is present on the page and absent during the awkward conversations you tend have with her in person. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.


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