GETTING INTO GRAD SCHOOL IN AMERICAby Badri Hiriyur Edulix Member, (2001) Graduate student John Hopkins University Civil Engineering Department Maryland U.S.A
This is for all the people who are planning to come here to the United States in pursuit of higher knowledge (I expect this to be the primary reason for students coming here).
First of all, allow me to congratulate you on having found this site. It's an excellent and unparalleled resource for all international students looking for study opportunities in the U.S. How do I know? Because I was one of you in the summer of 2001 and I was fortunate to accidentally bump into Edulix.com and ....Voila! Here I am - a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, thanks to the sound advise from the Edulix team.
A little introduction of myself may be in order here. My Name is Badri Hiriyur and I hail from the princely city of Mysore in Southern India. Fast forward to undergraduate... I got my BE degree from the University of Mysore in Civil Engineering. I was planning to write GATE (entrance exam for Masters/PhD in Indian universities) and join the Indian Institute of Science but some time in my third year my friend suggested that we write the GRE and try coming here to the U.S. I said 'why not?' and we promptly took the GRE in July 2000. I was lucky enough to get a fairly good score (2170 - 570/800/800 VQA). Now it was time to decide on which programs to apply to. USNews, Petersons, Gradschools.com were all helpful, but then, Edulix was the best of them all. Sitting there in India or Pakistan or wherever else you are sitting, it's very difficult to have a picture of what schools may be the ideal match for your interests. There are thousands of universities and lots of people doing work in your field of interest. For example, I knew that I wanted to work in Computational/ Structural Mechanics but wasn't able to figure out who was doing good work in this field and who would be willing to take me. I had just made out a list of schools that had a Comp Mech program in Civil Engineering and visited their websites etc. But more or less, it was like aiming in the dark. Then I found this site Edulix. I left a message on the board was pleasantly surprised to see a reply very soon. Amosisa Bikila had given me a list of schools and the professors who were doing very good work in this field. It really helped me immensely. Now, I knew from a person who knew what suited me well. Those messages of mine may still be in the message board archives somewhere. I narrowed down my choices now and got started on my application package.
Here too, Edulix was a big help. I had written my SOP and was not sure if it was good enough and whether it would match up to the admissions committees' expectations. So I ran a check with Edulix again. Amosisa Bikila was again very prompt in replying and I got back my SOP with a few suggestions. I believe these were crucial in helping me reach out to the Admissions committee and convincing them. So finally I applied, I got accepted at Cornell and Johns Hopkins but full aid only in the latter. So here I am.
Here, I would like to emphases that one should have a clear idea of what one wants to do. He should try to figure out what interests him and try to pursue it with diligence (ladies, excuse my use of masculine pronouns). In my opinion money matters (read job prospects) are secondary. If one does something full of enthusiasm, then he is bound to succeed. I have seen a lot of friends pursuing some fields just because "there is more scope" and then ending up feeling like fish out of water. A few friends of mine ditched civil engineering (supposedly unglamorous) to pursue Computer Science and are now feeling the heat. If they had switched claiming that they have more interest in that field, it would have been different. But that was not the case and they regret their decisions now. So as they say here, 'plan your work and work your plan'. I am sure most of you have realized this on your own.
There are also a few people who paint a dim picture of life in the United States. Of course the economy is not in the best shape and a lot of people are worried, but I have not seen it affect the students. Actually this seems to be a good time to be a student. I must tell you that I am really amazed by the resources that are made available to students here. The universities here are actively involved in research and it really counts. Course work is of course given due importance, but the lifeblood of the American universities is the involvement in research and thus advancement of human knowledge. This is a major difference that I have observed between the universities here and back in my home country (except for a few exceptions).
I think I have said enough now. My Best wishes go out to all the students. Have a great time applying.
John Hopkins University
Civil Engineering Department