Here’s a guest post by Sameer about U.S. graduate school application. This is his second post. His first article at HSB is about GRE Exam Preparation Tips.
Though the admissions are open in all 3 seasons, fall is the actual start of academic seasons in universities.
Most of the opportunities in terms of funding and on-campus jobs open mainly just before start of Fall and get filled up within a month. So you got to be an early starter to grab these opportunities.
A foreign student in new land needs time to adjust to the climate and culture. Hence, you must not overlook the timing and the season when first setting foot in the U.S. when you make your plans.
The are 2 types of college / university admission:
- Early Admissions for Fall: Things must be planned at least a year in advance. Candidates applying to top 25 -30 colleges must go for this.
- Normal Admission for Spring: This is a rare option. Usually it’s like a deferred admission case that lands up here.
- Normal Admission for Summers: Very Rare. In fact, you cannot plan your master’s starting around summertime. This is fun time for all, with lots of activity around. And for the student community, it’s also time to go for internships, earn some quick bucks, and explore the job market. Roam around some places.
Note from HSB about academic application deadlines – Early admission deadlines are typically for financial aid. It is possible to start the semester in Spring and in some cases during Summer. But if you look at the time when students complete their bachelor’s degrees, which is usually in April, majority of students apply for Fall.
General Advice: If you have enough money to splurge around OR you are short of time then you go for admission consultants. But BEWARE, you cannot trust them completely to make decisions in your favor. After all, they are businessmen who think of their commercial interests first. You got to be smart, just don’t buy everything they sell. I hope you got it.
Do some Googling: You have to do some research over the internet. Try finding good resources to get university rankings information. A couple of them I remember are US News and Report, FT Rankings, etc.
List your Priorities: Priorities in terms of location(urban / semi-urban / rural), state (Indian diaspora is spread greatly in northeastern States of IL, OH, PA, to name a few), university funding. Your list need not be in that order. Come on, you better know what your priorities are. Make a target list of colleges.
Socialize over the Internet: Next, find online communities on social media sites and other related internet platforms related to these colleges or universities, get to know some seniors and professors from colleges and universities you are targeting. Try to get as much information as possible. When you’re dealing with professors, present yourself professionally when exploring for funding opportunities.
To start with: Fill-out the online application for as many universities as possible even before making a short list of universities. Thinking that I have gone crazy…but not yet. It does not cost you a penny to fill out an online form. By doing so you get to know in advance the requirements for the paper work. When you mail your paper work, try to track it through the courier agency.
Be Proactive: Inform your university officials about the expected arrival of your application package. They tend to forget and mishandle things. You must bug them and follow up about it through emails and phone calls to ensure your application is on track and is moving forward.
5 ways to check application status
Note: Check to see that your names in your certificates do match the one on your passport. If not, try to get a letter from the university to acknowledge that the different versions of your name are actually one and the same.
Score Forwarding: Do not forward scores until the university asks you to. That is because some universities may not require you to send a GRE score as they might look at your GPA in your undergraduate. Ask for a specific receiving department to which you need to send your scores. Name issues could come up here, too. Just check on the names on your GRE score report and passport.
Note from HSB: Don’t wait for universities to ask for your GRE scores. This will delay your application processing. If they have asked you to forward the GRE (GMAT, etc.) and TOEFL scores, go ahead and do it. Usually, correctness of the department is not an important factor. GRE scores will be sent to the university and they will be able to verify your scores.