Guide to Admission for a Master’s Degree in the USA – PART 1

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Hey everyone! This is my second post here! I have been admitted to a college in USA for my MS. I as a student, am aware of the hurdles and hardships one has to face during the entire process of admission. There are various websites, which do provide information, but there is a lack of some or the other information in them. I thought it would be beneficial for students if they found all the information in a single website. So, here’s a guide to securing admission for a Master’s degree in the USA.

P.S – The process, which I would be explaining, is confined to masters in USA only.

masters usa-master's degree in the usa

1. WHY MS?

This is one of the important questions one must ask oneself. There are many who choose MS only because they are not able to get a job post their under graduation. This should not be the reason for opting MS, one should have the zeal and passion towards the course. I have seen people spending all their parents’ savings for the course and then because of the lack of interest in the subjects they decide to discontinue. MS should not be an alternative it should be one’s goal!

2. COURSE

It is very important to analyze the requirements of each course and a thorough research must be done before selecting any course, because this one decision is going to make/mar your life. There are many who change their course as they feel that the course they are pursuing in their undergrad is not their cup of tea. I have also changed my course which has no relevance to the course I pursued in my undergrad. In this case one should make sure they are aware of the pre requisites for the course and the kind of job prospects associated with the course. Would you be happy in that kind of a job five years down the line? I know I would never be happy sitting in front of a computer and banging the keyboard ( No offense people!)  I wanted a course which would give me a challenge everyday and would continuously nourish the skills possessed by me!

Once you are sure about the course, be prepared for the tedious job ahead !

3. UNIVERSITY

NEVER GO BY THE RANKINGS PROVIDED BY ANY WEBSITE! There are many aspects associated with the ranking systems in various websites. There are many colleges, which do not find a place in the ranking but are equally good! For example, the college where I have been given admission does not figure in the top, reason being there are no PHD courses in the college and the rankings were based on research work! There are many colleges, which are well known for a particular course so if at all you want to have a rough idea of where the college stands, search with respect to your COURSE! Students generally apply to five colleges on an average! I applied to ten colleges because I was not sure of an admit due to the change in course. The selection of a university is classified into AMBITIOUS, MODERATE and ACHIEVABLE. Achievable universities are the one which are apt for your profile and you have a higher probability of getting an admit. Moderate university gives u a 50 % chance of getting in. The ambitious university is  also called by many as Dream University. As the name implies its one of those colleges where you would love to get an admit but may/ may not have fulfilled the requirements of the college. Depending on the above classification you could decide on the number of colleges you would like to apply. Applying to each university would cost you about 5000- 6000 Rs and with the increasing dollar rate, god help you! (expected to decrease though)

4. GRE & TOEFL

The above-mentioned are two online tests which most of the colleges ask for. The reason why I mentioned the selection of the university prior to these exams is because you would have an idea of the cut off of each university. The Graduate Record Examination ( GRE) is an online exam and has various sections which basically tests your verbal and math skills. It is advisable that students practice many online tests to have a rough idea of how the test would be. Test Of English As A Foreign Language (TOEFL) is completely based on testing the standard of English of an individual. It comprises of four sections- Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing. Sufficient amount of practice will help a great deal. Many are skeptical whether they require coaching for these exams trust me, not required! If you practice for two hours daily for a couple of months, your ready to go! However, if your not sure whether you will put in that kind of effort on your own, its better you join some class because they would ensure that you do the needful. You would get your GRE score as soon as you finish the test and you have to send this score to about five universities, so before appearing for the test, have five universities in mind which you would be DEFINITELY applying for. Most of them are not in a position to decide on universities by then and apply to some random college ( ME! ME! Lol ). This actually can be avoidable and would also save u a considerable amount of money. The TOEFL exam also provides the facility to send your scores to some universities, the scores however would be known later on. The scorecards of both the exams would be sent to the address you have mentioned. These are very important, as they would have to be submitted to the university you are applying to!

5. RESUME

Everyone is aware what a resume is! It is important that you keep your resume updated! I read these lines in a newspaper and would like to share it here-

“Keep updating your resume, if you haven’t added anything in your resume for about three months, then it is an indicator that you have wasted those three months.”

6. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

The statement of purpose is one document which can affect your admit/reject to a large extent. This document would summarize various factors and answers for question like- why this course ? what relevant work have you done related to the course ? what would you like to do/be in the future? Please refrain from making your SOP a Xerox of your Resume. It is a medium through which you can justify to the professors that you would do justice to the course and that they are making a prudent decision by choosing you! As I have mentioned earlier there are people who have changed their courses and may/ may not have done something related to the course. In such a case why should they select you? Only solution – an appealing SOP! You should ensure that you clearly explain how you developed interest in the course and that you have the potential to master the course. There are many sops available online and it is essential that you go through some of them. NEVER USE THE CUT-COPY –PASTE method as far as the SOP is concerned. Every university uses a software called “turnitin” which would indicate of any plagiarism. Having your final SOP would take time. It took me a month! I had to also explain why I am changing my course! So have patience and keep enhancing your SOP to the best level possible.

7. LETTER OF RECOMMENDATIONS

The Letter of Recommendations also known as the university requests LOR’s during the application process. Generally, every university requests for about three LOR’s ( depends on college) . It would be better if you get an LOR from a lecturer who has done his/her PHD. Make sure you take LOR’s from lecturers who know you well and your academic achievements. The LOR should be taken in the college letter pad covered in an envelope and sent to the college. Not all colleges ask for hard copies. While applying to the college the email ids of the lecturers would be asked and they would be intimated through a mail. The lecturers have to submit these as soon as possible to expedite the process. It is your responsibility to be behind the lecturers and ask them to fill your LOR before it gets too late.

8. DOCUMENTS TO SEND

There are colleges where it is mandatory to send some of the documents as part of the admission process.

The list of documents is as follows:

  1. 1. GRE & TOEFL scorecards – Don’t worry if you don’t receive them when you are sending the packets, you can log into ets and take a print out of your score and send it across.
  2. 2. LOR’s- The LOR’s should be in an envelope, the sign and the stamp of the corresponding professor should be on the outer side of the envelope.
  3. 3. SOP
  4. 4. RESUME – Updated
  5. 5. Transcripts- It is advised that you take 4 extra transcripts in addition to the number of universities you apply for, as some of the universities ask for two transcripts.
  6. 6. FINANCIAL DOCS – The amount of money you need to show depends on the tuition fee of the university!

Continue to read the next part of this post: http://www.durofy.com/technology/engineering-tech/guide-to-admission-for-a-masters-degree-in-the-usa-part-2/

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