Hello juniors !
This will be useful to students aspiring for Higher Studies – MS/PhD
Though it’s a long journey for app-ing to US universities, it’s going to be pleasure trip at the end of the day! This page is for my dear juniors J
1. First step involves writing the GRE exam.
It is better to always have a good cushion time between the date you take the exam and the date of application to the universities.
What is the need to have a good cushion time?
· It will take a minimum of 30 days for the official report of the GRE to reach your residence and more or less the same time on their official site.
· Only very few universities accept only the unofficial scores (the scores that you enter manually) and may wait for the official report even after the application deadline. But most of the universities will expect the official score report to be submitted before the application deadline.
· Few universities would have clearly mentioned that the exam has to be taken before a specific date.
· Unfortunately, if the scores turn out to be less than expected, then you will not have sufficient time for taking the GRE exam again. Getting the free dates for taking the GRE exam during the last minute will become another headache for you.
· Obviously, you will face less tension during the application time.
So in order to overcome all the above, it is better to take the exam well before in a planned manner.
Big book, Barron’s, Kaplan, ETS material.
2.Taking the TOEFL exam.
This is another critical exam which has to be taken very carefully. Many students might end up with a low score due to less practice.
An 80+ would be an ideal score for most of the universities. But top-tier universities expect for a score greater than 100.
ETS provides free materials in their official site.
Also, Barron’s material will be very useful for practice.
3. SOP – Statement of Purpose
Unlike other higher studies, all MS courses in CS conduct no interview process during selection. The only material that is used for selection is your Statement of Purpose that you submit during the application process. For computer science students, professors expect an error free quality SOP from the students.
Tips to write a Quality SOP:
· You should allocate 2 months for writing an SOP.
· You should iterate through your SOP several times before your confirm your final draft.
· More importantly, it should be hand-crafted by you.
· Yes, of course, you should involve your friends in correcting the grammar and sentence patterns.
· Send it out to a English professor for correction.
· Your SOP should be genuine and should not contain bogus and exaggerated information. A very simple reason is that the person who will be reading your SOP knows that all the information mentioned in the SOP might not be true. So better restrict to the fact that is genuine.
4. Letter of Recommendation:
For Computer Science, a minimum of three recommendation letters have to be submitted from the people with who you have worked very closely during your academic/professional life.
All 3 letters should be very strongly written and should discuss about your work with them.
Getting a recommendation from a lecture with whom you have worked with him on a project for 2 years will be weighed more than the recommendation from a PhD holder with whom you have not worked at all (but you know him since he has taken a class for you).
Also one has to note that a Professional Reco will be valued more if it comes from a company which is well known globally.
Ideal recommenders for a UG passing out student would be
· Department HOD
· Final year project guide
· Staff with whom you have worked closely during your 4-year term apart from the final year project.
· Mentor during Internship/Fellowship
5. University Selection
Below are the few links that will be useful for your university selection.
More importantly, contacting students who are already studying in US universities and discussing with them about your profile.
Ideally people would apply for 8 universities – 3 Ambitious(Univs with less chances) + 3 Moderate(Univs that you deserve) + 3 Safe (Univs that you will surely get)
You should choose the safe univs such that, at the end of the day if you end up getting admit only in one of the safe univs, then you should be able to go ahead with the same.
All applications cannot be completed in a single stretch and it will take more than the expected time. Also, there might be few columns that you might have to confirm with someone before filling. Hence start filling your application well in advance.
Following things will be required during application:
GRE/TOEFL official Scores – This might take approximately a month to reach the university from the date of request to ETS. This is basically because the scores will be dispatched only once in every month. As said earlier, few universities will require the official scores before the application deadline. Free scores can be submitted to 4 universities immediately after the end of the GRE exam. For TOEFL, 4 universities should be given during the registration for the exam itself (this is only place where you can give your list of 4 universities for free score reporting – if you skip this step, then you will never be given a chance to send free scores again!)
SOP – Already discussed. Most of the universities will ask for a soft copy to be submitted online.
Transcripts – You will have to request the university to get this from our college. It is always advisable to get few extra transcripts in case of any miss happens after posting it.
Resume: This resume will be entirely different from a job resume. This resume should target at the research and academic profile. I have attached my resume in my page. You can have a look at it, but don’t make it look the same way J
A Home page: Create a home page for you, like this one (or a better one than thisJ). It will be useful for the university professors to know more about you and you can detail yourself, which were not specified in your Resume or SOP.
LOR – Letter of Recommendation will have to be submitted through online portal by the recommenders.
Evaluation of the application by the university is based on the following factors:
· UG College
· Letter of Recommendation
· GRE / TOEFL score
· Research projects
· Publications/Technical Articles. [If you happen to be third year student now, then this is the right time to think of publishing papers with your work]
The weightage given to the above factors will vary among different universities.
Selection of University after the admits should be made very carefully keeping in mind the following factors
· Rank of the university.
· Research infrastructure in the university.
· Feedback from the students in the university.
· Cost of living in the city.
· Tuition fees.
All the best! J