Feb 20

Tips on Applying

Posted by John Kuckens in Graduate Admissions on Feb 20, 2014

Something many prospective students worry about in the application process. I wanted to share with readers what it was like for me. I've seen a great technique in my supervised fieldwork called "kid-speak." When teaching in a group setting, the teacher has the directions repeated to the class by a student in the group. The children hear the adult language boiled down and synthesized by a peer. Now the directions are in "their" language. Consider this post a kind of "kid-speak" for graduate level students!

I started my application process to Bank Street in the fall of 2011, and finally finished everything about March 2012. I was accepted later in the spring of 2012. I could have submitted in February to begin that summer, however. It is perhaps ironic that although I blog and rely on technology in my everyday life, I preferred to submit a paper application. While there were many components of the application, they are neatly laid out for you. I made a little checklist and just ticked off each step as I completed it.

One of the more challenging was tracking down transcripts from previous institutions. I have two undergraduate transcripts, and one transcript from a previous graduate institution. I called in to Bank St. a few times to ensure all the transcripts made it in. Make sure you have no outstanding fees at the previous institutions.

The next challenge was deciding who would be a reference (.pdf). I chose a previous vice-principal I worked with in Connecticut, the CEO of the private school I worked for at the time, and the principal of that school as well. I delivered everything to them, including stamps and addressed envelopes. I also spoke personally with them or called on the phone ahead of time to make sure they were willing to do it! I told them a bit about the program I was applying to, and chatted a bit about some good experiences together that might be good to talk about in their letter. I wasn't exactly coaching them into writing something, but these are all busy people and I think they appreciated some ideas to work with before they wrote.

Bank Street asks applicants to write an autobiography, which is a unique way of getting to know someone. As with any essay, make sure you are answering the question they ask! Here’s a tip: on the application they ask specifically about the ability to “build relationships with children and youth”. Don’t forget to weave this theme into your writing. For example, if you were a camp counselor or a volunteer, write about a specific child who inspired you or was a challenge to reach. What they are looking for in the essay is your ability to reflect thoughtfully about the experience. Be sure to include an updated resume.

Next, I completed my program essay. I stopped in one day after work and received a USB drive from the admission offices. I went to the 5th floor library, found a computer and followed the directions given. Make sure you respond to the right program essay! The questions are similar to the auto-biography, in that you are asked to write about past experiences, but they are more specific to the type of education you want to study.

Finally, I had my interview with the head of the program I applied to. I think the best mentality to have going into the interview is to show yourself off a bit, but also have honest questions to ask. It will really help a lot to check out the website of the program you applied to and think about how it is the same or different from your own experiences teaching or working with kids. Not everything will make sense to you right away—and this can generate some good conversation points for your interview. You might also want to check out the required courses and ask some questions about them, such as "how does this course help me in the field I am going to." Also remember all the basics: eye contact, speak clearly, wear something appropriate.

tagged application process, interview tips
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