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While many grad school applicants focus on their personal statement, résumé or transcript, it is also important to remember the value of a strong network. It is never too early or late to build your professional network. Here are three ways a strong network can help you get into grad school.

1. Improve your letters of recommendation
Having good recommendation letters is very important for prospective graduate students. To achieve them, network with professors and other professionals in your interest field. To approach them, ask questions about their research or business. You can also mention a topic or current event that is related to your shared interest. By networking well and receiving outstanding recommendation letters, you can distinguish yourself from other applicants.

2. Gain valuable advice
Networking also allows you to build connections with peers and superiors who can be helpful during the application process. Hopefully, some of those in your network have gone through the application cycle or recently completed graduate school. If any of these folks are in the same field, they will likely have tips and advice about academic programs, how your résumé should be tailored, emerging issues in the field and more.

3. Create new opportunities and experiences related to your interest field
By continuing to build your network, you might meet someone who is working in an area related to your interest field. You can gain information about conferences or events that can help you expand your skillset and knowledge of the field. You can also meet others at different stages of their careers who can share their experiences and steer you toward opportunities you may have overlooked

Whether you’ve already graduated from college or are just beginning, now is a great time to consider your network. Starting to build your network early will certainly pay off when you’re applying to graduate school so, don’t just sit there, get out there!

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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