In the last post I talked about low GRE score options and your chances of admission if your score is less than 1,100. Today, I’m planning to write about these 2 different topics:
- A Job in India or Master’s in the U.S.?
- What would I be doing if I didn’t come to the U.S. to study?
But just before I started writing, I thought, why not write about the actual breakdown of the application process? This is after the graduate school application packet had been submitted.
From my experience, in observing the admission process in many universities, I find that schools seemed to follow the same similar process. This is true at least on the flow of the application package from the time you submitted your graduate school or undergraduate school application.
Let me see if I can finish this within this post or must I still write 2 or more related posts.
The breakdown of the process:
- Step 1: Submit application before deadline
- Step 2: Send all documents (hard copy)
- Step 3: Unique Application ID
- Step 4: Application Fee
- Step 5: Scores Verification
- Step 6: Forward to Department
- Step 7: Decision Making.
Step 1: Submit application before the deadline
You must submit your application before the set deadline. Some schools are very strict about this, whereas some schools still accept application after the deadline but some additional fees must be paid.
Submitting online application will make the process much faster since it’s quicker to input your details. If you submit a paper-based application, the school staff must first encode all application details into the system. This could delay the decision process by at least a few days.
Step 2: Send all Documents (Hard copy)
Now, the application is submitted. I have one helpful tip that I’d like to share here. When you submit the hard copies, it will make the graduate school’s work easier if you can enclose a checklist of all the documents you have included in the cover.
It would also help a lot if you arrange your application documents like Statement of Purpose, Recommendation Letter, Bank Statement, Affidavit of Support, Resume, Certificates, Project Descriptions, etc. in the exact order as listed by the graduate school.
If you have submitted an online application and got a unique reference number, make sure you include that number on top of all the documents. You can write it down on the envelops of your application documents (recommendation letter, Statement of Purpose, etc.).
Track the package all the way to the graduate school. FedEx, DHL, and other international shipping services provide very good tracking features.
Always take note of the person who signed and received your package. It’s very important to note that. You can use these details as a reference, if you want to contact them in the future.
Step 3: Unique Application ID
Now the application is already with the graduate school admissions office. This is when the waiting game begins.
Patience and strong belief will get you the admit. There are so many things that must go right for the application to be approved and sent to the Department for review.
There will be one person who will be assigned to process your application. Graduate schools typically receive so many applications. At times they may misplace a few documents. If this happens, then you are in trouble.
I hope that doesn’t happen to you. I will talk later about what to do if your application status says “Missing Documents”.
The assigned staff will enter all your details in the school’s computer system. A folder will be created for you and using the checklist, the staff will see if all the documents had been received. But wait, it’s not that fast.
Step 4: Application fee
The first thing a graduate school checks with you after it had gathered all documents in one place is to determine if you have already paid the application fee and sent the proof of payment. If you have sent DD, then they will wait until the application fee gets credited into the school’s account.
This is a time consuming process. It will take some 7 to 10 days for an International Demand Draft to get cleared in the banks here in the U.S.
So I would strongly recommend that you pay fees using the credit card option. After your application fee is received, an account in their system will be created for your and a unique ID will be assigned to identify your graduate school application.
Sometimes, you might get a mail (snail mail, not email) that bears your Application ID or Student ID, which you can use to refer to your application.
A graduate school is not that concerned about your Statement of Purpose or Recommendation Letter’s contents. They will simply verify if those are included as part of the application.
Even if you have submitted SOP and Recommendation letter online, make sure you include hard copies, too.
The graduate school will verify the validity of your transcripts and the marks and convert your percentage marks into GPA. How do they convert percentage to GPA? That’s a whole new topic to be discussed in a different post.
Going back, the graduate school will verify the validity of your transcripts, compare the name on your application to name on the transcripts. If you have names in the format like (S. John), make sure you include that in the application.
If the need arises, list any other names you used in the documents to make sure. Afterwards, the graduate school validates your transcript, then they’ll wait for the GRE and TOEFL scores.
The GRE and TOELF scores will be sent to the university by the ETS and they will validate your scores. Does elimination of application takes place in the graduate school itself?
Sorry, this post is kind of getting too lengthy. This is how I’m used to writing. So, I have to break it down to the next post.
I will talk about rest of the process by tomorrow. Just to let you know, I’m already working in the IT field after I graduated last 2005.
That’s my full time job now, but I’m still devoting time to help my brother, cousins, friends and many people in short listing universities, getting admission, visa tips, and travel arrangements suggestions, and much more to help them adapt to their new life.
Basically, I’m sharing my own experiences in these blog posts.
Step 6: Forwarding the application to the Department
If all the transcripts were evaluated and scores were matched to your profile, the application packet will be sent to the concerned department (say, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, etc.) for further review and decision making.
It’s not like a person will take the application packet in person and hand it over to the department. All universities have their own campus mail service. They will send the graduate application packet through the campus mail.
Usually, an individual application will not be sent. The admissions office will wait for some more applications and send them in a batch. This is for obvious practical reasons.
The process can be reversed, too. Each application the graduate school receives will be sent to the department and within the department. They will collect them and review them periodically.
Some schools that offer rolling admission, applications will be reviewed immediately as they come. Other schools will wait ’till the deadline had elapsed and will review all the applications together.
Step 7: Decision Making
If you really wonder, who makes the decision to admit or reject, well, it’s several professors. There will be pool of professors (called Graduate Advisors) who are usually involved in the decision making process. Not all professors in the school are included, though.
You application will be reviewed either by group of Professors together in meeting or on individual basis and they will have a meeting to discuss about the decision and that result will be forwarded to the Graduate School.
If you are accepted into one of the programs, the graduate school will then forward your bank statement along with admission decision to the school’s International Office.
An international advisor will issue you a SEVIS I-20 after verifying the bank statement is original and you have enough funds to complete your course.
There you go, you guys got the admission and you just have to wait ’till you get the I-20 in the mail.
I hope the information was useful and gave your clear understanding on how the graduate school application and decision making processes work.