Vineel Chandra
on 09 September, 2016

Masters in US : Essential pre-requisites





Hi guys. Thanks a lot to Sumeet who gave me this wonderful opportunity to help you guys in your admission into a Master’s program of your choice. Hopefully you all do get your dream university and make it here for the upcoming fall. You must be thinking who I am first of all. Sorry I forgot to tell you who I am. I am Arun Subramanian, a graduate student in Arizona State University. I joined for the Fall 16 term (that’s right. I have been here for a little more than a month). I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science. I did my bacherlor’s in India as you would have guessed. I did my undergrad in SRM University in CSE. Then I wrote the GRE and TOEFL, spent dollars in applying to universities, handling rejects and admits and then finally choosing the university and flying all the way here.. Phew.. It is a roller coaster and trust me, you are not the only person facing it.

So next question, what I am going to talk to you about? Let’s talk about profiles and university short-listing this time. I have chosen this topic because this is the phase that most of you are going through. You have the really big question, or rather questions in front of you; What universities should I choose? What is the SOP? Who should give me LORs? What should I do to shove GRE up its ass and get a really good score? How should I apply? When should I apply? Should I apply to the same university that my girlfriend/boyfriend/best-friend is applying to? How much will I have to shell out? Do I need work ex? So on and so forth… Well, let us be honest, I am not answering all the questions in this document. I’ll probably answer one or two.. I will be answering everything but not at a stretch. There is an assignment in Artificial Intelligence that I have to finish as well. Sorry :P

Let us talk about selection of university. Ideally you should apply to at least 6 universities. Some people apply to just 4, some people apply to 14. While the number is absolutely your choice, do keep in mind that you are paying near about $100 for every application (INR 6,671.2281). Moreover some of these universities will ask for official scores for GRE and TOEFL and official transcripts (I will explain what official and unofficial documents are in the forthcoming articles). So on an average you will spend $125 on every application. So applying to 14 universities is near about $1750. Convert that to Indian Rupee and you will know where you as well as the country stands according in economy. So my advice will be try and avoid applying to universities where you are sure you wouldn’t love to go. Select 10 universities and apply to them. So the next big question, how do I select the 10 universities that I will be applying to?

The answer to that is again your choice. I am just going to tell you what most people do. First, look up in google the list of universities that offer your course and try to understand everything that is put up in the website. Some university websites are a bit tricky to navigate but I am sure you will figure it out. Now decide the number of universities that you really want to apply. Keep track of their deadlines as well. Let us say you fix the number as 10. In the 10, apply for not more than 4 ambitious universities. Ambitious universities are your dream universities like MIT or CMU where there is an extremely slim chance that you might get selected. The other 6, apply for a minimum of 4 sure shot universities where you feel relatively confident that you will get admit. These are generally the universities that are ranked between the high 30s and early 50s. The other 2, you can apply to universities where there are chances for you but you are not as sure as the sure shot universities.

The next and the last question that I am discussing today is “How do university evaluate the application?” Unfortunately, there is no sure answer for this. Some universities give more importance to GPA than GRE. Some regard the SOP as gospel. It differs from university to university. Generally however, you SOP, LOR, GPA, GRE and TOEFL scores are collected and each is given a weight or an importance factor and then normalized. So after normalization, if you are in the top, then congratulations is what the university would have put up in its online portal. So there is no sure way of saying whether one will be admitted/rejected. So just pray to the gods and apply. I am sure all of you will be able to get an admit.

I will write the next article looking at the feedback I get for this and will talk about some other important things. For those in doubt, do drop in a message to me in FB. My FB name is the same as that on my passport, driving license and on this article, Arun Subramanian. You will notice that the address bar will say www.facebook.com/aruns1494 if you are in my profile. Do drop in a message and wait for a few days for me to reply. I will try to reply at the earliest but I will be help up with course work too. So just be a bit patient. All the best guys. Hope you found this information useful. See ya.

Arun Subramanian 


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