EXPERIENCES and SUGGESTIONS on APPLICATION PROCESS by Kadam Chudgar
Edulix Member, (2001) Graduate student
You need to begin the application process at least 1-2 years in advance. For eg. if you need to go in Fall 2002 you need to begin around Fall 2001 for a comfortable period of research and decision.
First of all register for the TOEFL and GRE tests on a day and time with which you are most comfortable with. As you are starting early about 2 years in advance, you will have ample time to retake these tests if you are not satisfied with your first scores.
Then you need to shortlist your list of colleges. This list should consist of approximately 10 colleges. The breakup should be 3 (long shot/hard to get in) colleges, 5 colleges that match your profile and 2 safe bet colleges. For college selection you can check out sites like
After finalizing your colleges you need to download their application forms from the net and print them or e-mail the colleges asking to mail it to you. In the meantime study well for the GRE/TOEFL tests especially the verbal portion of the GRE. For that, start talking regularly in English. Watch a lot of English movies, read papers regularly and note down the words you don't know the meaning of in a small book for future use. Besides the GRE/TOEFL exams and application forms you also need the following documents:
- SOP or essay: Although some people think that the SOP is an unimportant part of the application, many colleges do give a lot of importance to it. Colleges like to hear what would you do for them and not the other way around. Be frank and try to include everything. Nothing is unimportant. So even if you have attended mountaineering camps, done social service or things like this, you should mention it all. Be respectful and don't try to be cute or humorous. There are many sites on the web which can help you with this stuff. Never forget to do a spell check.
- Recommendation letters: Three of them are enough. They should preferably be from the professors who have taught you. Generally don't select the most popular profs as he/she is already swamped with a lot of students like you and so he might not pay attention or have interest in it. Try to select teachers that give you the highest marks/grades.
- Transcripts: They should be sealed or unopened. They should also preferably be sent directly to U.S. from your school in your country.
- Resume: Although it is not that important as other documents, it can be useful afterwards in getting on-campus jobs or TA/RA positions. They should be maximum of 1-2 pages. It should include any work experience, prizes won or other honors.
- Project Synopsis: If you can try to send a synopsis in short of 3-4 pages of the project you did in the last year. It would give your application that extra edge.
- Financial documents: These include affidavits of support from your sponsor, bank statement of finances or ca statement.
- The visa process: You can get all the info about it from the U.S. Embassies in your country or from their. You can also visit the INS website for more info.
I'll continue writing my path to the States in the following weeks...