These include GMAT, GRE, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS. Your scores in these tests are considered as predictors of academic performance in future years of study.
Writing Statement of Purpose (also called Personal Statement)
You will have to pay special attention to draft your Statement of Purpose. Your Statement of Purpose is a reflection of your goals, aspirations, academic highlights, co-curricular achievements and your enthusiasm for higher studies. Be very meticulous in framing your SOP. It is something that the professors are surely going to read. You need to highlight all your strong points and also explain (in short) the reasons of any shortfall in your application.
You need to spend time on your SOP. The step by step manner in which it should be prepared is:
Write down all your academic highlights that you want to put in your SOP. Brainstorm for all the academic projects, scholarships that you got, college level technical prizes etc. You need to prepare a exhaustive list of all the things you want to mention in the SOP.
Depending on the program you are applying, you need to prepare a storyboard from your list of achievements. Put them in most coherent manner so that you state your goals, objectives and aspirations very clearly.
A transcript is an official copy of a student's academic record. It is issued by the University on demand. Generally Universities charge a fee for each copy of the 'Official Transcript'.
Transcripts are one of the most essential documents that are required by Universities where you are applying for admission. You'll need to send your transcripts by post (courier) to University admission office. Your application will not be processed until the University has your transcript.
Some Universities ask for 2 copies of transcript (one for the graduate school and one for the department). You should always apply for more transcripts than the number of Universities your are applying for. Normally if you are applying for 10 Universities, you should get around 15-16 transcripts.
Letters of Recommendations
Letters of recommendation are another action item where you need to be very proactive. You may have to spend a lot of time for this activity. You need to identify the professors (or supervisors at work place) whom you'll entrust with this responsibility. You'll need to tell them well in advance and seek their approval for the same.
Ideally for MS programs, most Universities ask for 3 recommendations. Some restrict you to 2 while a few allow even a fourth recommendation. There are two ways you can submit recommendations: Online recommendations and Paper Based recommendation.
Universities prefer online recommendations. It is very much convenient for them as it requires no paperwork and no overhead on their part (scanning etc. - for your information, most of the paper documents that we send are usually scanned and archived into applicant's folder on a computer).
You should go for a paper based recommendation when there are problems in getting a online recommendation. Every University has a format for the paper based recommendation.
Every recommendation letter should include three key components:
- A paragraph or sentence that explains how recommender knows the applicant and the duration of relationship.
- An evaluation of the applicant and his skills/accomplishments. If possible specific examples should be cited that illustrate the applicant's strengths and qualifications.
- A summary that explains why professor would recommend the applicant and to what degree he would recommend him ['Recommends', 'Highly Recommends'].
The content of the recommendation letter will depend upon the needs of the person who is requesting it, but there are some common topics that can be addressed:
- Contributions (to class or community)
Writing a Resume
You'll need to write a well drafted resume to be sent along with the applications. Some Universities get it uploaded on their online application while some ask to send it along with the additional documents that you send via courier.
By now, resume writing must not be new to you. There are thousands of websites what tell you how to write a good resume. Basically, your resume for your MS application should clearly capture all your academics, academic related achievements and significant co-curricular activities. Also mention your work experience (if any) and the kind of work you have done.
The first requirement before you start applying is to have a list of Universities where you intend to apply.
You need to do a lot of research on the Universities before you can come-up with a list. By the time you are preparing your list, you might have given your GRE and TOEFL. You'll have to make a rational decision as to what are your chances in various Universities that you are evaluating. You'll have to evaluate the department and program ranking of the University and whether the researches and courses align with your interests.
Some quick tips!
Generally people have a simple logic of choosing Universities. You need to divide your list into 3 categories of :
- Ambitious - The ones that are your real dream Universities, but you think they are a bit unapproachable given the profile you have.
- Moderates - The Universities which you believe that you have a fair chance of getting in. You have researched that people of similar profile have gone through such Universities before. But you still cannot be very confident of an admit.
- Safes - The Universities that you are confident that you should get a call from. You have checked various forums and edulix uniSearch and you are pretty sure that with your profile, you should get an admit from this University.
Mailing Statement of Purpose/Resume
Most online applications facilitate uploading the SOP and Resume on the online application itself. Otherwise you'll require to send them with the courier packet. In case you are uploading your resume, you can also append scanned copy of various certificates to the resume.
Mailing Letters of Recommendations
You will need to send your letter of recommendations(LOR). Most online applications now-a-days allow LORs to be submitted online.In cases where submitting online LOR is not possible, the applicant is required to take LOR in sealed envelopes from the professor and send it along with the application packet that will be sent to the University. .
Transcripts are to be sent by post. You need to send them in sealed envelopes by courier/post along with other application material that is required.
Mailing Financial documents to be sent with applications
Some Universities ask some financial documents to be sent along with the application. These documents maybe custom documents/forms that are to be filled and sent back with bank seal etc. Basically they may ask for financial proof for some amount of money. Most students who will avail loan for their studies are not in a position to send those documents at this time. Ideally you should send authentic proof of whatever amount that is possible.
Finally, you've come to the last hurdle before you go ahead and pursue your dream. All students who have a decent admit and have enough finances normally get a Visa.
However, Visa issuance policies are a function of the ever changing world dynamics. Hence, you'll find that getting a Visa maybe easier one year as compared to other due to the changing policies of the US consulate.
But nevertheless this is a exhausting exercise. You'll have to get many documents made and ensure that they are all authentic and acceptable by the consulate.
As a first step you will require a Visa interview date, visit https://www.vfs-au-in.com for all the information you'll require to fill up the forms and register for a date. The official Visa website lists all the procedures and steps in a coherent manner. Make sure your read and understand all the instructions and FAQs.
Important for all Visa Categories
- All Visa applicants are requested to provide the following documents at the time of lodging the application:
- Good quality photocopy of the Bio Data page of the current Passport;
- Good quality photocopy of any endorsement pages or change of name pages in the current passport; and
- For current Indian passports - good quality photocopy of the back page with information on parents' names and previous passports
- The photocopiesdo not need to be certified. This requestapplies to all visa categories. Clients who do not lodge the above documents may experience delays in the processing of their visa application.
What is the best place to appear for the Interview? or Which consulate is most lenient in granting Visas?
There are many theories of a particular consulate being more lenient than the other. Chennai specially has earned a bad name for rejecting more F1 Visas than any other consulate. I believe if you do a comparative analysis on the percentage of F1 Visa rejected for all the consulates, there won't be any difference. So just take that thought out of your mind and apply for interview at the consulate where you are supposed to.