Do good homework, apply in time guidance plus
This is how to go about applying for a programme in a foreign university.
Nov 17, 2008: First of all, you should go for a self-assessment of your knowledge, skills, academic qualifications, aptitude, financial status and career dreams before you launch your efforts for securing admission in a foreign country. If your skills are moderate, it may be hard to secure admission to a top ranking institute or university. One practical method is trying to seek admission simultaneously in a number of institutions at different levels in ranking. The rankings of institutions can be found out. You may try some at the very top; but consider some others as well. Gathering information is vital in deciding the programme and institution.
Aspects of funding are important, since your parents may not be able to foot your bills. You will have to procure assistantship, tuition fee waiver, award, scholarships, grants, work-study or loans. It would be possible to find part-time jobs to meet your expenses overseas. It is a good idea to plan your studies at least 15 months before the commencement of the programme. If you try to search seriously for financial help only after securing admission, you may not succeed. Of course, there would be questions on your sources for funding even before admission is granted. Universities would award fellowships only to the brilliant. But many can secure teaching assignments with assistantships that would help to meet all the campus expenses.
The requirements for eligibility will have to be fulfilled. You may have to show evidence of your competence through scores in tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, SAT and DAT. The application process would take quite a long time.
Certainly, you have a programme in mind that suits your ambition. But that is not the end of your search for the programme. Try to find the universities that offer facilities for your dream programme. Analyse the stature of the university. If possible, get in touch with those who have graduated in the discipline from the university and gather further details. Try to check the results of evaluation of the programmes. For many of these, you may use reliable web sites.
The following are some of the factors to be considered while identifying your programme and centre of study. Reputation of the university, Availability of the programmes (discipline, levels such as Master’s and Ph.D.), Transfer credit (at what level would you be placed on the strength of your qualification), Eligibly requirements like scores in GRE or GMAT, Duration of the programme, Time of commencement of the programme, Language of instruction; need for special language training if you have in mind countries such as Russia or Germany, Cost of the programme (tuition and administrative fees, bed and board, travel, excursions and visits), Availability of scholarships, grants, federal work-study or loans, Accommodation (family, homestay, students’ apartment, shared dormitory); distance from university campus and availability of transport and Location of the university (big city or small town, facilities, safety).
An excellent guide for university or college search is the web site www.petersons.com
. It gives information on all kinds of U.S. universities.
Your application package has to be complete and flawless. The certificates or mark sheets in proof of your academic attainments and date of birth; statement of purpose; letters or recommendation; and financial statement or related bank documents as set down are the essential components of the package.If the institution from which you have graduated is not well known, or if it is a deemed to be university, you should add documents to convince the foreign university concerned of its status. So also, if you have graduated through the distance education mode, there should be no room for doubt on the acceptability of your academic credentials.
You have to draft a covering letter indicating the contents. It should state what programme and which session (fall or summer) you are applying for. List the enclosures—application forms, application fees, financial statement, two copies of statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, copies of the relevant certificates, transcripts, score reports of GRE, TOEFL, GMAT and so on. The letter should be brief and professional. The language should show that you are making a request; but not kneeling down in supplication. The first impression is vital.
Do not send any original document except the bank draft. Send signed or attested copies only. You may have to make arrangements for the direct delivery of your GRE, TOEFL scores by the testing authority to the university. For the purpose of preliminary processing, universities would consider photocopies of the score sheets. However, you will have to see that additional score reports reach the university before the final admission. Write to the university to find out whether any additional information has to be furnished. Send the application sufficiently in advance so that your application is not pushed back during the last-minute rush in the university.
The financial statement is a document that tells how you propose to meet the study expenses. The funds available with you may be indicated. However, if you are expecting assistance from the university or other body, do not hesitate to mention this. There is no harm in stating that your present financial position does not permit higher studies in the university without external assistance in the form of scholarship or assistantship. You will have to make follow-up action by reminding the professor about the need for financial assistance.