5 common mistakes prospective students make every year

There are no secondary things in your application package. In a way it is an opportunity for the selection committee to check not only your academic background and research interest, but also such skills as attention to detail, accuracy and even strategic thinking. 

1. Being late with signing up for a language test

You might be fluent in Engish, but we need proof of your language abilities. If you are not a native speaker or did not complete one of your degrees in English, you have to show us your test results. The problem is that places for TOEFL, IELTS, etc. are filling up quickly and the results might not arrive before the application deadline. 

Solution: if there are no places in your city, consider travelling to another one and sit an exam there (tip from former students). 

2. Recommendation letters do not arrive on time

CEU’s application deadline is very close to winter seasonal holidays and professors and your former colleagues might be busy with their families, travelling or have other duties. Do not let these factors downgrade your application, as reference letters are extremely important and we do read them. 

Solution: send a request for a recommendation letter now. Right now. Make the life of your referee easier and provide some basic info which might be useful: your GPA, courses you have taken, project you have been working on together, etc. in bullet points. Do not write your reference letter -  this trick is easier to spot than you think. 

Extra reminder/tip: By when do my references have to be submitted? They should be received latest a week after you have submitted your application

3. No proofreading

It might be a humbling experience to show your statement of purpose to others, but after reading and re-reading it dozens of times you might not see some obvious mistakes. It is fine to apply to several unis, but we would rather see CEU mentioned in your application instead of Arizona State University (real case…)

Solution: show your writing to your classmates, colleagues, or friends. Take their feedback with a pinch of salt as we want to see YOUR personal statement with your personal writing style and unique ideas. 

4. Submitting your application at the last moment

If you belong to a category of people who do not believe in inspiration, but believe in deadlines, we hear you. Yet, there are always technical issues with application portals, payment systems, and last moment questions. The admissions office and IT support are here to help, but why take the risk and stress yourself out?

Solution: Establish an internal deadline that is a week or at least a few days earlier than our official deadline. Submit your application early and feel good! 

5. Not applying at all

You have started an application, but did not submit it because 

  • you thought your personal statement is not interesting enough;   

Reality: impostor syndrome is widespread in academia too, apply!

  • your background is other than IR;

Reality: we had successful students with backgrounds in math, engineering, music and literature. As long as you are interested in IR and willing to learn, you will be fine.  

  • your application was rejected/wait-listed last year…

Reality: every group of students is different and probably you are not the same person either. Not getting an offer in 2022 does not mean you should not try again in 2023.  

Good luck with your application! 

Check our website for more info, join the webinars and if you still have any questions, send them to ir@ceu.edu