Career Choices Education Globe

Decoding Foreign College Applications

Apart from getting a good entrance score, applications play a very big role. With most foreign colleges scrutinising your applications, nailing them is really important. Here are things you can do to get it right.

Yuti Kadakia

MS in Electrical Engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Once you have scored good marks in your entrance exams (Here’s the blog on tips for it), the next and perhaps the most important step is your college application. The applications for batches of 2021 have already been released and here’s how you can do them well.

First things first, please wait until you receive your GRE score to start shortlisting Universities. I know you want to go to the best, but if your score is not there to support you, it may not work out. Of course, what I mean is if your score is a 310, you can apply with a college having a +/-5 cutoff, if you have good Statement of Purpose (SOP) and Letters of Recommendation (LOR). But if the usualy cut-off goes to 325/330, you will need an out of this world SOP and LORs to get in!

Before you start applying to universities, make a spreadsheet with the university requirements. Their deadlines(priority and regular), cutoff scores for GRE and TOEFL, the department where you want to apply, tuition fees, living expenses (very important!) and acceptance rate. Do not go applying in 15/20 universities! Apply in a maximum of 8/10. Each college application costs minimum $75. And please check the university rankings based on department and not the overall ranking. U.S.News is what gave me the most accurate information on universities. Spend at least a week or two researching on the colleges you want to apply to.

GRE and TOEFL might hold only about 15-20% weightage in your application. The MOST IMPORTANT part of any application is your Statement of Purpose (SOP). Your SOP, in simple words, defines who you are and why you are worthy enough to go to their University. Please read about the university you are applying to and mention about it in the SOP. You can even mention a professor there whose work intrigues you or maybe a Lab you want to be a part of. Adding a more personal touch can show them that you have researched and are genuinely interested. Make sure you do a plagiarism check. Don’t copy, paste things from other SOPs! They WILL catch you.

And make sure to take your LORs from Professors or colleagues who you can follow up with and who would take some time out and fill your recommendation form. Some of them might ask you only to fill it (if you’re lucky!)

The entire application process can take upto a month or two if you have deadlines which are spread out. It is a cumbersome process, but if you choose your colleges carefully, you can get at least a couple or more acceptances. Talk to friends or people who might already be there (LinkedIn is the best place to connect)!

In brief, a few important things to remember are:

  • Your marks are important, but not the only thing that matters in a college application!
  • Work on your SOP the most. It makes/breaks your application.
  • Check the college tuition fees! It may be a dream college but not always affordable.
  • Be happy with all the colleges you apply to. Even if you get in just one, you should not be disheartened!
  • Be systematic. Start early and spend time on it cause even before getting accepted you are spending thousands in just the exams and the application process.
  • Talk to as many people as you must before making any decisions.

Make complete use of online resources. There is so much out there to help you. All the best!

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