Department of English

More on Preparing Academically

  • Take careful notes in your classes, and keep them; keep your exams and papers; try to buy the books you use, and keep them.

  • Take Writing Emphasis courses in the Department of English. You will need strong skills in critical writing and literary research. You will also need to know how to make an annotated bibliography, how to document sources, and how to use basic reference books and databases.

  • Work to learn a foreign language. Emphasize reading and translation, which are much more important than oral skills in an English graduate program. Taking an intensive summer language course just before entering a grad school is a wonderful idea (then take the language exam right away).

  • In the interests of looking good on paper, always apply for and accept honors and awards (also enter writing contests that you might win). Certain extracurricular activities that reflect your interest in English -- like tutoring, belonging to the English club, editing or writing for student publications -- can also be attractive to admissions committees. But your academic performance is the key element; be careful not to sacrifice it to other things. In general, graduate admissions committees do not look for "well-rounded" applicants, but rather for applicants with very specific abilities in the field.
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