YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAMS
Thinking of applying to US universities? It is quite possible that you are not very well aware of the application procedures in the US universities, and have gathered a fair idea about Fall & Spring Sessions, Official Transcripts, Application Fee Waiver, Letter of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose, Letter of Acceptance, Sending Test Scores. But you are still unsure how these aspects are to be dealt with in your admissions process so as to give you the maximum overall benefits.
Finally you fall back on a consultant to know things right. A consultant’s assistance is always available, but definitely at a steep price. Here we discuss the various aspects of the application process and try to explain the jargons for your easy understanding. This may help you process your application yourself and save good money!
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FALL & SPRING SESSIONS
These are two main admissions sessions in the US. While Fall usually begins in August, Spring starts in January.
STUDENTS GO FOR FALL
But all the demand is centred around Fall session, and you would find most people applying for this session. This is because not only are there higher number of seats but also higher number of financial aid in the offing, something so important for studies abroad. The number of courses in various disciplines are also much more for Fall.
WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO APPLY
But the applications process begins almost a year ahead of the commencement of classes. So if you wish to apply for Fall 2016, then notification for applications are usually hosted on the websites of respective universities by August 2015. The period for application falls between August and first week of January. And if you plan to go for Spring 2017, then you have to apply between March and August-September 2016.
WHY AVOID THE LAST DEADLINE
Usually there are three deadlines for most of the courses across disciplines. One should never wait for the last deadlines to apply. Your chances are close to absolutely nil if you apply by the third deadline. You should try to apply by the first deadline, but at the most by the second deadline, and never by the third. However, if a university has four deadlines then it is still safe to apply by the third deadline, but definitely not the fourth.
WHAT IS AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT?
These are nothing but your marksheets. But this is not the mark sheet your university gives in the normal course of awarding the degree to a student. This is different in the sense that your university has a separate format for Official Transcripts in which they would put all the data of your marks received and give an official stamp and signature on it.
WHERE TO GET OFFICAL TRANSCRIPTS FROM?
All that you have to do is to request your university for the number of Official Transcripts you may need. This will depend on the number of universities you are applying for. Usually universities require one set, but some even ask for two copies.
WHAT SHOULD BE ENSURED IN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPTS?
Official Transcripts being very important documents, you have to ensure certain aspects. All Transcripts you send have to be in original and not attested photo-copies of the same. Secondly they must be sealed with the university stamp and signature. Now majority of the universities ask for the Official Transcripts to be sent directly by the issuing authorities. You should check what the universities you are applying to asking for. Accordingly, you may send it along with other documents or arrange for direct despatch of the same from the place of issue.
APPLICATION FEE WAIVER
The term is self-explanatory. But how you may get the waiver, remains unanswered. After you have short-listed your university, you may send a detailed resume to the admissions committee of the university and request for an application fee waiver. While it is not very often granted, it is not rarely approved too, if they feel from your curriculum vitae that you are a serious and promising candidate for the course.
Application fees range from 80 to 150 USD for MS and PhD courses to even up to 250 USD and more for MBA studies. While sending an application waiver does not cost anything, it can save your precious money, in case lady luck is kind enough to you.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
WHO SHOULD ISSUE THE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION?
A letter of recommendation is issued by somebody who had taught you or someone under whom you had reported to at work place. It may even be the Head of your educational institution or the CEO or departmental head of your company, or someone under whom you might have undertaken a specific project.
SHOULD IT BE SENT ONLINE OR OFFLINE?
There are two ways you can send your Letter of Recommendation. You may notice that almost every university has its offline and online formats for the recommender to either fill up in hard copy and send as document or sign-in electronically with his official e-mail ID and post the recommendation for the candidate. You can choose either of the systems depending upon your convenience. However, if your university has only the online option, then you have to stick to that.
Now if the recommendation is sent online, then mentioning the official e-mail ID of the recommender is a must, as the organization name of the recommender as reflected in the e-mail ID proves the genuineness of the sender. And if it is sent off-line then, it has to be typed on the letter head of the organization the recommender is associated with, and sealed and stamped in the same way as the Official Transcripts. Again some universities may specify that the Recommendation Letters are to be sent directly by the issuers. Then such instructions are to be followed. Otherwise you may send with your documents.
TWO WAYS TO ISSUE THE RECOMMENDATION LETTER
There are two ways to issue recommendations as well. One is the university format, in which one has to simply fill up the university listed form. The other is the essay format where the recommender basically writes a letter and sends the same electronically or in hard copy. Now which procedure one should choose? The university format or the essay format?
WHY PREFER ESSAY FORMAT OVER UNIVERSITY FORMAT
It is always advisable that the student chooses the essay format. This is because in this process, the various attributes of the candidate can be described to the widest possible range as per the recommender’s experience. The limitation of the university format is that the recommender may not be able to describe the candidate in whichever way he or she would like to. This is because, one just has to answer by ticking whichever is relevant in the provided columns between poor, average, good, very good on a given aspect say leadership or hard working nature or innovative nature to quote a few examples for our understanding.
VERFIY REQUIREMENT FROM UNIVERSITY WEBSITE
But before choosing the essay format, one has to check the requirement of the university on its website. If it is mentioned that the applicant may use the university format for the Recommendation, then the candidate has the liberty to use the essay format. But if it is mentioned that the candidates have to use only the university prescribed format for the recommendation, then there is no choice left for the student.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
This is the most important presentation of you the student, and hence needs to be written with great care. You should spend not less than a month’s time to prepare it, by continuously improving upon the changing draft and bringing out the best of all of your attributes and interests, portraying your promising candidature.
LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE
After your application is short-listed and the Admissions Committee decides to accept you, which may also necessitate a telephonic interview, you are issued a letter of acceptance. This is a very important document for you to apply for the Visa at the consulate.
SENDING TEST SCORES
You have to intimate ETS for GRE and TOEFL or Graduate Management Admissions Council for GMAT of the universities you would like to send your Test Scores. While it would be done free of cost for the first four institutes, for every additional college you have to pay a nominal fee.
This should give you a broad idea of the application requirements. Still if you have any university specific admissions queries regarding documentation or related issues you can always write to the Admissions Committee of the University for clarification. They are not only very prompt in their response but also the most reliable source for information.