NC State’s graduate school program changed the way it receives applications for the upcoming school year due to the ongoing pandemic. The department has seen an influx of domestic student applicants, and the graduate student admissions staff is seeking to connect with prospective students.
Peter Harries, the dean of The Graduate School, says the application process did not differ much from past years, but the school has seen a drop in applications from international students.
“I think the [application] process itself doesn’t look different, considering we have had this online format for forever,” Harries said. “If we look at international students overall, our applications are somewhat down. I still think there are significant questions about being able to get visas because so few embassies are open.”
Lindsay Gentile, the director of admissions and enrolled students, highlighted how the admissions staff has prioritized the recruitment of domestic students as a result of the pandemic.
“It gave us perspective that some of our graduate programs are heavily reliant on international students,” Gentile said. “This past year has opened our eyes to find better ways to recruit applicants from within the United States, and even international students who are in the United States doing a bachelor’s degree, and once consulate offices are back open and our international students can get here, we definitely will welcome them with open arms.”
From a domestic applicant standpoint, the staff has seen an increase in applications. According to Harries, graduate student applications from domestic students are up 6.5%.
In terms of the GRE, Gentile explained how the decision to nix the standardized test was the most significant change the graduate student application underwent.
“There have been many [graduate student programs] that have started waving it before this year; we started getting a lot of increased requests to waive it,” Gentile said. “Some are waiving it forever, but some of them are temporarily putting it on hold, mainly because it is difficult to access the exam when exam centers are shut down. A lot of programs felt like it would be easier for students.”
Since most aspects of the application process have moved to a virtual format, Harries and the rest of The Graduate School’s application staff have created ways to engage with prospective students.
“Since campus does not look like it normally does, students can’t get the ability to experience what the campus would be like under normal circumstances,” Harries said. “We have been creating five to 10-minute videos for departments where they can talk about who they are and give a bit of sense as to what the program has to offer.”
Gentile noted that, on the application, students can talk about their experiences over the past year and how the pandemic impacted their lives.
“We’ve always asked applicants to talk about their challenges, but especially during this time, how they’ve triumphed over the challenges with COVID-19 in their personal statement,” Gentile said.
To learn more about The Graduate School and its corresponding programs, visit its website.