Saturday, July 28, 2012

10 mistakes while applying for MS in US Universities

Waiting for GMAT/GRE + TOEFL Test Score and then applying

Don’t wait for your GMAT score, GRE score, TOEFL score to arrive. It’s pointless. You may miss the deadline to apply to US Universities (also especially if your first score is not up to the mark). It's wise to take the test early but your selection of US Universities should be done in a way where you do have a combination of a. dream Universities (ambitious), b. very good Universities and c. back-up Universities (in case you do not get through to the first two categories). US Schools allow you to apply in advance and you can provide them with a test date.

Three quick recommendations (the fourth one is free)
1. Apply to 8 Schools (3 dream, 3 very good, 2 back-up) (max. 10 US Schools)
2. Apply in October/November in the year before your course start eg. If you plan for Fall 2015, apply in October/November 2014. Many Universities for specific programs only accept admission applications (with all application documents) until mid-December. Don’t fret if you only reviewed this blog post in December or January since (nearly) a large number of US Universities accept applications until mid-January. Many Universities will have rolling admissions too
3. Prepare yourself for GMAT/GRE test for two weeks and assess your abilities to score (may be with your tutor if you have one). Then, book a test date and work towards that date instead of endlessly preparing for the test
4. Check the entry requirements of the shortlisted US universities well in advance so that you could keep the documentation ready like essays, personal statement (SOP), etc. 

One problem is certainly solved with this approach of ‘not waiting’ – a good GMAT/GRE score means your chances to (possibly) secure admits from dream and very good universities rise and if not, you already have applied to your back-up universities.

Waiting for the hard copy of the test scores (like GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS): 

No. You don’t need waiting for the hard copies of these test scores. US Universities will not accept these from you. These are reported by the testing agencies (eg. ETS) directly to your selected Universities. a. when you register / appear for the tests (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL), you select up to 5 Universities where your scores are reported for free (included in the registration fee) and b. you can use your online account to send out your score reports. The best is to report your score 30 days in advance to the application deadline of the university (or earlier)

Overestimating your test scores: 

Practice tests are different from real tests (specially on the day of the test). Besides, nervousness sinks in for most students on the test day. Your target score must generally be 10% higher than your required score. And you can easily reduce your actual score by 10% to 15% as against what you find during practice tests. Never overestimate your scores; otherwise you will only have applied to back-up universities. We laugh sometimes suggesting typically that every GMAT applicant believes to be good at English and every GRE student believes to be the best at Math.

Realistically estimating your test score will also allow a. selection of right universities and b. reporting your scores to the right universities (saves money)

Randomly applying to as many Universities

You’ve finalized your university list (that you are going to apply to finally). Then you hear about your friend applying to another set of universities. While applying to one university may seem a costly affair (you spend about Rs 5000 to apply to one—reporting TOEFL, GMAT, GRE scores, application fee, courier charge, others), more importantly, it suggests that you are unsure of your future plan of studies or have not previously researched well enough to be spending vast amounts of money. Thus, unless you come across one super program option (which seems like coming out of serendipity only), you may wish sticking to your university options

How to fill the University application form? 

Spelling mistakes – bad. Entering incorrect academic details, scores, and reluctance in entering all details (if you have a long list of activities) – seriously, you must be crazy. It is wasting your time and money, the university’s time and you only have applied to one university less (for each university that you repeat that mistake).
Oh! And yes. An address, a statement, other descriptions -- (all) start with a capital letter eg. "I have worked with....", "ILW, 21 Pitruchhaya Building...Vile Parle (W)" -- it cannot be "i have worked with...."

Common Personal Statement

This is typical. Often times you do not even require a personal statement. Commonly popular as a statement of purpose (SOP), students tend to make one common essay. You are better off collecting the requirements of all universities you are planning to apply to. Make a list of essays (different from SOP) and start working on the toughest essays first. Quite interestingly, you may find that essay answering many of your other essay questions. Each University may have a set of questions asked through their application form (or may be listed on their website in the admissions or entry requirements sections) and these questions are important to why you as an applicant fill in to their class. Each essay requires individual attention. For some uncommon errors that students make while writing essays, check this post

Heavy concentration on subject / technical knowledge

Especially distinct to MS applicants, each piece of information they wish discussing with a university is technical (mildly perhaps for business/management applicants). While academic achievements are important, it’s a waste if you do not highlight other personal traits and achievements like displaying experiences that has brought out in the (recent) past, your leadership qualities, social activities, sports participating, and such others. Sometimes even critical assessments about yourself are important. It’s wise to point out your shortcomings so that you realize you are spending money on entering a class where you can contribute too. Your higher studies must teach a whole lot of other characteristics which will be required in the real world. Here’s an interesting post suggesting 11 skills that every graduate must concentrate on developing

Work experience

While for most MS programs, work experience is not essential, having one always helps and boosts your admission chances. However, to build up work experience like part-time experience during your course—that’s just not required. And if you imagine being able to prove that you’ve worked as a manager in only 1 year post your Bachelors (in India), you must be kidding. Surely, highlighting your internships, real-time work experience is a must even if it brings out minimal learning that you could highlight (on your resume)

Resume Building

Include all information. Keep it short and simple. You can get creative and there are many websites that help you facilitate that. You don’t need a 4 page CV and bore the busy admissions committee

Expecting all universities to reply in the affirmative

Indeed. Sounds weird. However, most students would anticipate that all universities will provide only a positive reply and you may have 8 I20s to finally decide from. The fact that you are applying to 8 universities is because you have some dream university options. Don’t hesitate to receive reject letters

Lastly, some useless errors' list:
a. Your email id should be correct, must be checked regularly and is largely the only method most universities will contact you
b. Believing 'rolling admission' means you can apply anytime. You must apply timely
c. Not submitting financial documents' proof (that you can fund your studies), when you have applied for scholarships. You must submit financial proof
d. Not applying for transcript timely. All US Universities require transcript (different from marksheets). These need to be made available to all US Universities you are applying to
e. Not checking if your university requires transcript evaluation. Many US Universities require your transcript and degree to be evaluated by a testing agency like World Education Services and others

Good luck applying!

You may also wish to read: US University Essays and Mistakes


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MS in US Universities said...

This post is very useful for us.while applying for MS in US universities same mistakes again and again basically we are mistake how to fill the University application form. this post guidance is very helpful once again thanks for sharing this post

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