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How to Be A More Competitive Applicant

Each year we receive approximately 30-45 applications to our Salt Lake City Program and 7-10 applications for our St. George Program.  Each year we accept 12 into our Salt Lake City Program and 5-6 into our St. George Program.  Thus, our acceptance rates can range from 27-40% for our Salt Lake City Program and 50-86% for our St. George Program.

The competitiveness of your application may in some ways depend on who else is in the application pool.

At the same time, there are things you can do to be more competitive.  When we review and rank applications we spend a good deal of time on the personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume/CV, and GRE score.  We look for quality and diversity of experience, background, and past academic achievement.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is a chance for us to get to know you.  In 1-2 pages, tell us a little about yourself.  What do you bring to our program or the school counseling field in general?  Stronger personal statements are those that address school counseling.  For example, you may want to talk about who or what influenced you to enter the field of school counseling.  You may also want to discuss what you know about the field, what excites you about the field, and any relevant experiences you have had.  If you haven’t worked or volunteered in a school before, what has been your experience working with children and adolescents in general?  Further, you could address how this field is a good fit for you based on your interests, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics.  Or, after reading our mission statement and program objectives, how this particular program is a good fit for you.

Letters of Recommendation

When you are asking people you know to be a “recommender” for our program, be sure they have something good to say about you.  If you aren’t sure, give them an out (e.g., “Do you feel you know me well enough to write about my…”)

Think about who would be the best person to speak to your: 1) ability to graduate level work, 2) current/past performance and skills, and 3) values, passion, and personal character.  As faculty, we like to see at least one or two letters from other faculty (we trust them when they say they think you can do graduate level work).  At the same time, we understand that it may have been years since you took any courses.  In that case, we like to hear from employers or other people who have mentored you or supervised your work (even if it is volunteer work).

If it has been a while since you have taken classes and you don’t have any recent work experiences, think about volunteering in a school to get some experience and develop a relationship with someone who could write you a glowing letter of recommendation. 

Experiences Working with Children/Adolescents

In your personal statement and resume/CV we will be looking for relevant volunteer or work experiences.  But keep in mind, it’s perfectly okay if you are not a teacher and have never worked in a school setting.  Be sure to highlight other experiences you have had working with children and adolescents.  And if you haven’t had any relevant experiences with these populations, think about volunteering or becoming a paraprofessional.  This type of experience is not required, but it does help you be more competitive.

GRE Score

The GRE score is an important component of your application.  When everything else is equal (strong personal statement, strong letters of recommendation, and relevant work/volunteer experiences) your GRE score may cause you to get ranked higher or lower than someone else.  Thus, we recommend studying for the GRE before you take it and trying to do your absolute best.

For information about the GRE:

•  Need to register?  See:

•  Need to prepare?  See:

We do not require a minimum GRE score. 

We also do not require a psychology subtest.

If you have taken the GRE and wonder where your score fits with other people who have applied to our program, see our 2020 Admission Statistics.


Last Updated: 9/9/21