With Miserable Reputation, Can I Get into University At All?

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA 17 Comments

Received the following email (Can I Get into University at All) from Reader Y.

I am one of those people who considers nothing is possible at times.

I am one of those who will be drained by the success of others.

But i am also one of those who has an ambition to escalate and ascend high into the sky to reach the top, not in terms of money only, but also to see my self as an asset to the society and my family and respect myself.

I was never aware about engineering when i was in school. I went into 11th and got a hint at it.

I was determined to do engineering then and then only. I thought nothing in this world is valuable and appreciable if i won’t be able to do engineering. I thought a BSc degree of 3 yes. would be just so downgraded.

But i realized it is not what UG course u do, It is how your outlook is toward it.

I have completed my engineering and and am jobless…..solely due to one reason….could not fill the criteria of many companies….although there were many other companies whose criteria matched with mine…but saw their job profile and thought that i would not be satisfied with this job.

My true satisfaction and excitement lies in embedded systems and FPGA based systems.
I want to excel at this and am hoping that american education can provide me that edge.

I am interested to do a PhD in this and want to do from an Ivy league institute. But first would like to do an MS from some other university as i know my profile would not be up to the mark.

I have an aggregate of 57% in MY BE and have done it from University of Pune.

I had a lot of family problems and personal problems during these 4 yrs.

I had that deep down desire to excel but just was not strong enough. My parents seperated during this time and i have a big responsibility on my shoulders to handle this situation.

Due to this i have no and zero extra-curricular activities with me…no sports….no participation in nothing.

I have a miserable reputation with my professors…i doubt they would give a convincing letter of recommendation for my application.

Also i have no project experience in the said field coz….i got a guide who was into microwave…she was the best and offered her guidance to us(in the sense that we did not go to her)…..so i took and did my project in microwave…..other guides of embedded systems were not worth guiding…. considering this what are my chances of getting into an embedded systems as major program

I have that burning desire to do research in the above mentioned area and also in ambient intelligent systems.

I want to convey this willingness and desire to the universities, but how, they see my academic records…i am gone over there….my recommendations….zero there too…..extra curricular activities….gone there too…..

What should I do?

Can i get into a university in the US…..is it worth it to do PhD after MS in the US….?

Also suggest some universities where i can apply and have a chance to get in keeping the aforesaid background….

I am a regular reader of your blogs and expect a reply soon.

Help me HSB….

Lesson About Being Polite

I was going to delete your email even before reading it.

Then I read the first 3 lines, it was well written and then I scrolled to see the neat email structure.

So, I decided to read the email. I felt sorry about your personal problems, then the following line pissed me off

I am a regular reader of your blogs and expect a reply soon.

I have said several times before and repeating here again.

You maybe a regular reader of this blog, but unless I know your name, I’m not going to spend my time to respond to you.

You can stay active by posting comments frequently, then I will recognize your name when you send an email.

Having said that, here is another suggestion for you.

Be Polite

When you are asking for help, be polite. When communicating via email, emotions are conveyed via words.

I am a regular reader of your blogs and expect a reply soon.

Above line doesn’t convey politeness.  Unfortunately world and I don’t work the way you are expecting.

I wouldn’t be writing this section, if your last 2 lines were to be like this

I am a regular reader of your blogs and I would appreciate if you can help me. Thanks.

What Can You Do Now

If you are passionate about embedded systems, then do things to reflects your passion.

Do projects, learn ideas from white papers, take GRE, arrange for funds and go to USA. Apply for MS, get exposure towards research, if that’s something you want to do, then change to PhD.


  1. Hi HSB & everyone!

    This post is truly the best post i ever read. This shows that every students who get poor result during their undergraduate. Can still dream for Highest in their life.
    My Friend i will always waiting for another post from your end.


  2. Yusuf, I also had faced a lot of problems during my graduation coz of which I was unable to concentrate on my studies and was irregular to my college and these qualities made some of my professors lose faith in me, but I used to participate in cultural fests in my college and other colleges as well. But in my final yr of my graduation, things have changed slightly where I was made my project lead in spite of my dreadful academics, and thereby I interacted with my professors and completed my grad with an agg of 59.54%. I also thought GRE is not going to help because of my poor acads. But some of these blogs have helped in making me aware of the procedure of selection in GRE, for which I had really worked hard and now I have been admitted into the University of Florida for CS. So never give up on anything, work hard and give your best it will surely help you. Many of them might have some sort of problems but these problems wont last long.

    Have a great future ahead.

  3. Like ur commnt Aruni. rlly optimistic n motivational. i hate it whn people give up instead of fightng on.

    @yusuf: start mailing profs. mail d indian as well as foreign ones for internship or guidance requests (as Aruni did). Be as intense and passionate as in this post but dont sound desperate.I thnk with your super lingual skills u will bowl them over 😉 . Dont give up on this,stick to it sincerely and u will get a reply. To tell u d truth, restricting yourself to Ivy is a bit over ambitious. 1st, Ivy prefer a strong publication record +acads + the college branding. 2nd, very rarely do Ivy provide funding and as all know, their fees are right through the roof!! So do mail to “safe” univ too. Remember u need a good professor to guide you…..there’s no use in going to a top-rated univ under an over-busy prof who cant guide u well….u might get stuck at your degree and that’s the recipe for a perfect doom. And there’s another option too
    1) Get a good GRE score (1450+)
    2) Apply to univs. Apply to some “safe” ACCREDITED ones too (safe means those whose acceptance rate is high and u are sure to get there. Look up that info on usnews). Like for eg, Univ of Colorado Boulder,Suny etc. When u mail profs be sure to check their profiles.
    3) Opt for MS in “safe” univs. Even if u dont get funding,I think with the zeal u have, u will get a funding within next semester.
    4) Work ur ass hard at it. Try for maximum exposure in ur area and publications
    5) After your MS,apply for PhD at an Ivy (that’s way easier than applying directly now)
    6) Fulfill your dream 🙂

    1. hi AM..

      Thanks for the tips…really appreciate it. Am thinking of getting some project experience first in embedded systems.

      Maybe after 1-2 yrs, with my projects as a background i stand a better chance.

      Will try to give GRE this year to see how it is and accordingly plan my study.

      As the second recession is in it’s initiation, what would the job prospects be in america after i graduate?….i have read obama does not want foreign skill employed in american companies…he is planning out a bill in that cause.

      Would appreciate suggestions for uni. of colorado boulder fees and stay expenses.

      As i read in the “MS or PhD?” post, a PhD would fetch you a fatter paycheck…..considering the 2nd recession and it’s effects in the next 4-5 yrs, is it viable, coz after investing so much of money in american education, expectations need to be fulfilled right?….of course hard work counts in your securing a job….

      I have not given up….need a start somewhere…..think joining an embedded systems company would put me somewhere on the path…

      1. @yusuf
        1st, y do u need 2 gve gre to see “how it is”? there are ample mocks on d internet for free + ETS anyway. if u do it, whn u apply for univs, ur average score will b considered. n honestly, i dont advice people 2 go 2 d US just 2 settle down there…..I always advice them to come back to India & put that education to good use. n yes, if u come back to India, the prospects are great. you need 2 b an “academic superstar” (borrowed 4m 1 hsb post) 2 get a decent job there, given the present situation. or just be damned lucky. no idea abt Colorado. check der webs8

  4. Hello friends, I know my question may be silly, but I really need some clarification. Actually I have low GRE score and would like attempt it again as soon as possible but confuse about my old score. So if I rewrite GRE would they count my old score too(as average)?

  5. My GRE score is 1160 v- 620 , q- 540 can u please suggest me universities
    in U.S. I done my B.E. got 70.4 %

  6. Hi HSB,

    I am really sorry for my unpoliteness, i don’t know what i was thinking when i wrote that….it’s a genuine mistake and truly ask for forgiveness….won’t do it again. I generally would take care of my script…but was just not in the stae of mind…

    Also thank you for the help.

    –Yusuf Husainy

    1. I have posted several posts criticizing readers for their mistakes. I think you are the first person to accept the mistake. That speaks volumes about you. Good luck with your future ambitions.

    2. I’d really like to add something here – not about politeness (!) but the ability to overcome some ups-and-downs in your previous records.
      with a passing interest in law or literature (:D), never studied that well for the engg. joints during 10+2. the result was a pretty run-of-the mill college in it. However with the desire to pursue further studies in the US drove me (like many others) to work on projects, research etc.
      The first attempt wasn’t anything stellar – a normal project on asp.NET. Then, screwing up courage started to call professors at a renowned research institute in my city. After days of no one answering, one prof answered, asked me over to test C programming knowledge then set me to work on a project. After burning the midnight oil (searching net, google scholar, asking ppl, poring over books at libraries, coding for hours) somehow managed to improve their then levels of precision in that project.
      The result – a really helpful prof, two publications one of which (by sheer good fortune) is to be printed in an international volume, and further work going on as we speak. And the confidence to further build my CV before applications to us univs.
      Moral of the loooong story? -Start slogging it out, esp. if you haven’t been a brilliant chap before this. go to other research-based institutions nearby if your own leaves something to be desired. ask around, ask and ask again. personally. CALL ppl – indian profs doing high-scale research too are very busy ppl and may not reply to all emails. Since calling is an option within india, DO exercise it!

      1. wow!!!!!!!!……i think something fell on my head…..excellent advise….thanks!!

        Which city r u in?…..which research organizations did u approach….

        I am currently honing my C skills from the book-“Let us C”, by yashwant kanetkar…..would appreciate if u could suggest some initial work and which organizations in pune or surrounding areas i can approach…..

  7. wow… i read the few starting lines and i thought was it me who has written this email somehow in my dreams. but thankfully its not me
    i am also from the university of pune and i have a poor reputation and almost inconsequential 4 years of graduation.
    but i didnt have any family problems i guess the main reason for this lax was because i never liked studying engineering or whatever i thought engineering would be, it wasnt.
    to make matters worse now i am pursuing mtech in it-bhu and to make matters worse i thought of going for phd just because whenever i looked up for a job they all demanded a first class degree at undergraduate level so i thought of getting a phd and going for a teaching job.
    then along the way i realized something how will i ever complete my phd when i have no desire to study engineering and also phd isnt a stroll in the park.
    anyway now i am applying for masters in architecture because in the US there is a provision for pursuing masters in architecture even if you dont have a bachelors degree in that field
    thats something that i was always very passionate about. i did secure a very good rank in aieee in architecture exam but that time i was so much into IIT that nothing seemed a viable option.
    but now i am really going to give it my 100 percent i did get a good GRE score (1400) and i am taking toefl soon i have a portfolio( but i dont know how much it will help me cuz i havent taken any professional training in art or anything all that i can say is that i am good at art.)
    so really keeping my fingers crossed i hope this decision doesnt backfires

    1. I am so happy for you that you realized what you are passionate about!! I have been there too… with a love for Physics and a passion for fine arts, I thought Engineering complemented the combination. But like chemical reactions, products sometimes are not like the reactants!! By the way what engineering department are you from? If you’re from Mechanical and if you’re interested in art, inclined towards design… you can look up at the mechanical department of Imperial college, London or the Royal College of Art, London. They provide a combined MA in art and an MS in Mechanical…

      Wish you luck 🙂

  8. Your suggestion is correct HSB.

    If some one does not have any work/ resume credentials, atleast start them NOWWWWWW. Its not like by sitting on a chair leisurely, one can get MS/Phd seat easily.


  9. If you have so deep desire why don’t you compete for GATE examination, IITs/IISc too have great Mentors and research lab are nicely equipped, People with 57% too join these departments but then they work hard & get good placements or continuing Ph.D options.

    However, on another node about MS/PhD at US/UK/Canada/Australia. In US you can look into some good state universities viz. Iowa state university, Michigan SU, Univ. Of colarado at Boulder ; people with 50+ % aggregate from Univ. Of Pune/Bombay/Rajasthan other state university technical students have joined university abroad, work hard there & excelled in their chosen field of interest. Do your own search and depth using google as your research tool to find such universities, No need to disheartened. Work hard achieve your dreams.

    If possible, Look outside US too search about good universities in UK/Canada/Europe/ Australia, search Russel group for UK, Group of eight,Australia, similarly others in Europe.

  10. if you got the passion and determination, you can go for MS and PhD but you need to be focused thoroughly and not liek few others. Like a real bad example like me..

    i thot CS is bad so i went for Instrumentation and there i saw its bad bt somehow done the degree with 74%. Further, was nt able to match up CS guys during campus. Lots of struggle got me a job and that was nt satisfying. Thot of GRE, given it, got 1180, 2 admits with no scholarship. Couldn’t arrange funds.. and left the idea!! again job struggling. now after 5 years. m at comfortable position.. earning more than 60k bt still that desire to do Ms/PhD is there. not sure if i will do that now but i know i lost of focus and determination.

    So, that’s the most important part..!! You can do it but it needs damn hard work and determination and if i say damn its damn…!!

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