Welcome back to the Applying to Grad School Series! After a long hiatus, I am back and ready to answer your burning questions about applying to grad school. This week I’ll be discussing the general process of applying.
Whether you’ve had your sights set on grad school since first year or like me, just decided in October of fourth year, September to November is the time to narrow down which schools you want to apply to. I recommend researching all of the accredited programs available in your province (or out of province if that’s something you’re interested in) and weighing the pros and cons of each. When I was researching, I focused on the curriculum and length of the program. I am not very interested in research, so I knew that I didn’t want to apply to a program that was heavily researched based. In addition, after 4 years of undergrad I did not want to be in a particularly long graduate program either. If you’ve researched all of the schools and are still unsure, I recommend speaking to current students in those programs to see what they think about it.
While researching it’s also important to ensure you have all of the credits required to apply to that program. For example, for the University of Guelph MAN program, the minimum overall average to be considered for admission is 75% in your last 4 semesters, as well as a minimum grade of 75% in an applied statistics course and a research methods course. You want to make sure you meet all of these requirements before submitting your application and losing $110.
The next step is to complete your preliminary application through the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre for each program you’re interested in. At this stage you do not need any supporting documents, this is simply to let the schools know “Hey! I’m interested”. Each application costs $110, so I would not recommend applying to every single school to increase your odds of getting accepted. This is not only a waste of money, but also of your time when it comes to complete the supplementary applications. These applications are usually due mid-December.
Next, it’s time to complete your supplementary application. This is where the admissions committees get to see who you are as a student, but also as a person outside of school. Most grad school applications I’ve come across require at least 2 letters of recommendation. Depending on the school, both letters must be from academic references, or can be from past employers or organizations you’ve volunteered with. In this step you will also be required to submit a CV and research statement. Although it’s termed a “research statement”, think of it more like a cover letter. This is your opportunity to tell the committee why you chose to apply to their program and what makes you special. Depending on the school, you may also be asked to submit additional documents that showcase your work. For example, Ryerson requests that applicants submit 2 samples of your work exemplifying your nutrition communication skills. The supplementary materials application is due anywhere from the beginning to the end of January depending on the school.
The admissions committees will review all of the completed applications and contact any applicants who have been shortlisted for an interview in the first 2 weeks of February. Interviews usually take place during reading week, however some schools will also hold interviews the week prior to and after reading week.
The next step is to attend your interview(s). Interviews usually last anywhere from 1-3 hours and are usually conducted in the multiple mini interview (MMI) format.
Next comes the hardest step (in my opinion). After your interviews are completed in February, the waiting game begins. Once all of the interviews are completed, the admissions committees meet and discuss all of the applicants and form a list of students they have accepted into their program. Schools usually email out acceptances as early as the first week of March. If you don’t receive an acceptance in your inbox the first week of March, it’s okay. This doesn’t mean you haven’t been accepted into any grad schools. Most schools send out acceptances on a rolling basis because many students apply to multiple programs and will decline some of their offers. Once you receive an acceptance offer, the school gives you a few weeks to accept or decline the offer.
And that’s pretty much the application process in a nutshell. Seems simple enough but don’t be fooled. It’s so important to stay organized during this process. Undergrad doesn’t wait for you to finish your application; you have to find the right balance between completing your undergraduate studies and reaching that minimum admissions average while at the same time securing kick ass reference letters and perfecting your CV. It is daunting, but doable. In the end the process is so rewarding! I wish you the best of luck in your journey to becoming a registered dietitian. If you have any questions about the application process or have a topic you want me to cover in an upcoming blog post, please send me an email or DM on Instagram!