Getting in and out of Graduate School in USA by Aman Randhawa

Thanks to Badri Hiriyur, an Edulix member, whose article title is the inspiration behind this title. But guys don't take the title literally. I chose this, because I transferred to another university from Michigan Technological University.

Getting into a graduate school in America may begin with hard work, but it is us, the students, who finally reap the benefits. I believe, preparing for GRE, GMAT or any other test for admission in a graduate school in US begins well in second year of undergrad school. I was lucky to have people around me who guided me as to what has to be done when.

I am a Mechanical Engineering major, interested in pursuing an MS in controls, an excellent field for present research. So, I started looking up universities, which offer MS in mechanical engineering with specialization in controls. Edulix is an excellent source, which helps you decide what schools to apply for, keeping in mind your specific needs. Try sending out an email to Edulix and you will know what I mean. And then of course, you have to see if there is financial aid available, is the place suits your budget, how are the job prospects once you are done with your degree etc..

Most graduate schools have application deadline around Dec 31, if you want to be considered for financial aid - who doesn't want to be? So, if you are applying for admission in Fall 2004, you should send all the documents out, namely application, Statement of Purpose, official transcripts etc, by Dec 31 2003. I was late in doing so for certain reasons, thus was accepted in just two out of five schools I had applied to, that too without financial aid. So the lesson learnt is - documents to be sent out in time.

"Good things come in small packages" - this idiom doesn't quite fit in our case, because in our case good things come in large packages, which of course is your admission acceptance along with paper work guiding you what to do next. If you are too lucky, most schools accept you, but then of course there is a dilemma, which school to join. Well, at this point you are your best judge. Once you decide your school, the next thing is to arrange for housing as soon as possible. Get in touch with the housing office and see what options you have. Most of the times, off-campus housing is cheaper. With everything in place, next step is to book your ticket and of course make an arrangement to get to the university from the airport. Every school has an international organization or contact your respective country's organization to make an arrangement to pick you up from the airport. I was received at the Hancock airport by two of my old friends from India-now don't envy me, find some friends

Well then everything starts to settle down with time once you are in school, as it did with me. Michigan Technological University is located in Houghton, which is a small, beautiful town in the Upper Peninsula, a part of state of Michigan. I went to this school for one semester. Major areas of specialization here include controls, IC engines, computational fluid dynamics, nanotechnology etc. All these areas are excellent options keeping in mind job prospects. As it happened, my family moved to California and I applied for transfer to University of California, Irvine. The procedure is simple and straightforward. Fill in the application for transfer student and arrange for your present school to send copies of official transcripts to the school you want to transfer. You may have to send in a couple of Letters of Recommendations, as the school demands. It all happened for me very fast and without any hitches. As soon as I received confirmation from UCI, I packed my bag and off to sunny Southern California. Clubs, beautiful beaches, what else does one want at 21? So, here I am today, a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

When I joined UCI, I was planning on continuing to work in controls, however I met Dr. Marc Madou, an expert in the field of BioMEMS. Here I would like to mention that MEMS is an upcoming field with a great potential in the future. I, therefore, started working in BioMEMS and believe me I am loving it.

UCI is where I met our very own Bikila and was introduced to this excellent website, EDULIX.COM. I wish I had such a source available at my fingertips when I was applying to graduate schools. These people have done extensive research and worked very hard to build up this student information website. I strongly recommend this website for all the prospective students.

Long story....

I have said enough. Now you guys, stop reading all this stuff, get to work and I hope to see you here in U.S. soon. My best wishes to all the people dreaming of a better and a quality education here in U.S.

Aman Randhawa

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California, Irvine