What Makes You a Good Candidate for a Grad School Program?

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: June 6, 2024, Reading time: 5 minutes

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What makes one a good candidate for a graduate school program is often unwritten, if not vague. One thing is certain: Admission officers want you to demonstrate that you are clearly aware of the ways that your skills and experience can help contribute to a program!

You will be surprised that some admissions officers will put more emphasis on your character than your GPA. This is especially true in highly selective programs where the character is a telling sign of a student’s success, like in medicine, where compassion, drive, and soft skills are important.

Let’s get into it! Here’s what makes you the ideal candidate for the graduate school program:

Strong Academic Background

An applicant with a strong academic background shows that you are academically sound and prepared for graduate school. When admissions officers probe into your transcript, having high grades in key courses pertinent to the graduate program of your choice will prove favorable to your application.

Relevant Professional Experience

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The admission committee will focus on the applicant with relevant professional experiences that are related to your chosen field of study. You must pursue internships, volunteer work, research, conferences, publish papers, presentations, or employment in a related industry. This will not only give you experiential knowledge about the intricacies of your field but will also prepare you for the rigors of the graduate courses. 

Writing Skills

Personal statements and essays are a crucial component of your graduate school application. Your aptitude for writing will show your admissions officer your proficiency in writing graduate-level work. Writing samples sometimes outweigh standardized test scores and even letters of recommendation.

A well-written sample is organized, clear, thoughtful, and written with correct grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.

Inquisitive with Clear Insights and Motives

An ideal graduate candidate needs to have the ability to ask the necessary and appropriate questions. Your inquisitiveness will show in how you write, and conduct yourself in the interview. Having clear and specific insights and motives must be front and center of your graduate school application.

With these characteristics, you can show your admissions officer that you have novel research directions and are eager to pursue them. This direction must be towards contributing to the body of knowledge in your field, making you a “good fit” for the program.

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Committed to the Process

Graduate school will require your time and dedication. It will test your character and your commitment to your field. Graduate school programs, especially the faculty members, rejoice in the fact that their students attain graduate education.

If you strive to become a good candidate for a graduate school program, you must share the same values, passion, and respect in the process of attaining higher education.


Since most graduate programs require applicants to sit for an interview, make sure to impress your interviewers. Your ability to express yourself clearly and confidently is extremely important in a graduate school program where you will be required to make presentations, speak in front of your colleagues, and defend your hypothesis.

You will be strongly evaluated on how you conduct yourself in the interview. Come prepared. Be articulate.


Connections matter. Having strong letters of recommendation, ideally from respected names in the field, will show the admission committee that you have the qualifications required in the program. More so, it shows that you possess the credibility that a person in pursuit of higher education needs.

However, make sure that your ability to complete graduate-level work and critical thinking skills are commensurate to the prestige your letters of recommendation bring.

Key Takeaways

The first step to all these is to show that you are fully compliant with and engage in every step of the application process.

In some cases where admission standards are difficult to discern from GPA and test scores, what could help you stand out are your supplemental materials. These will accompany your transcript of records that highlight your academic performance both in undergraduate and secondary education. 

Graduate program admission itself is tedious and will require you to engage in every step of the process fully. Prepare a portfolio that will showcase your previous work.

This may include business proposals, marketing designs, research proposals, and briefs you have done during your college internship, among others. Aside from this, you need to attach your resumé, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, an admissions essay or letter of intent, and ace the interview. You need to prepare for graduate school.

Remember that grades and test scores matter. But, the true picture of an applicant is often revealed by the supplemental materials. Many outstanding academic performers were denied admission for many reasons that were not obvious to the applicant.

The overall lack of attitude, lack of preparation, and lack of confidence in oneself can be detrimental to your admission to graduate school.

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.