User Guide: Graduate Admissions
For this project, my goal was to help prospective students at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with one of the most intensive tasks they face: applying to a master’s program. The result is this Admissions Guide, an instructional document and user guide that supports them through each step of the application process.
Following CMUiii’s brand style guidelines, I wrote and designed this piece using Adobe InDesign.
Though similar to other processes, admissions at CMU’s Integrated Innovation Institute is not like any other: It has unique instructions, timelines, and requirements. Despite direct access to information through our website and emails, I noticed that applicants continued to face roadblocks in their admissions journey. Quickly it became clear to me that we needed to reorganize the information within a schema that followed the mindset of the reader: to understand applicants’ pain points and fears while instructing them in the sequence in which they needed the information.
As a first step, I identified ways that an instructional document could address the needs of applicants. By conducting research, I identified the user journey: from learning about our program offerings, to scheduling entrance exams, to checking the status of our final admissions decisions. For some of these steps, III was the topic expert, serving as the sole source of this information. In others, the information came from several external (and sometimes unknown) sources (For example: requesting university transcripts or establishing a funding plan). Regardless of content sources, I aimed to address the needs of our applicants holistically, laying out the foundation and serving as a go-to resource for every aspect of the process.
At the end of the guide, I included a step-by-step guide with a checklist that can be accessed at any point throughout their application process, enabling multiple pathways to information and giving them a way to use the document as a reading-to-do.
The final guide was well received both by applicants and the admissions team. It has been widely distributed and used for multiple admissions cycles. In addition to helping applicants reach their goals, the benefit of this guide is that it requires minimal content revisions each year and yet is still relevant and helpful for applicants.