Applying for Graduate studies can appear to be a daunting task. This arduous procedure can be made easier if you are aware of the steps required, begin early and follow a systematic process.
Selecting your universities
To begin with you should be fairly clear on what you wish to pursue and should decide universities according to how they align with your interests. Different universities are suitable for different programs and not every university offers your desired program. Resources such as QS can be employed to check what universities are relatively better for which programs. You can also observe the amount and quality of research that the university’s faculty and students have undertaken and whether it can offer you internships. Check what the employment and wage statistics are for the graduates of that university of your program. Many universities will not state their minimum academic thresholds but you can search on the internet for what minimum GRE scores and CGPAs are accepted. Their tuition, other mandatory expenses and financial aid offerings will be listed under their ‘finances’ section. Your selection should include a range of universities, from highly ambitious targets, to more moderate ones and some backups. According to your undergraduate academic performance, test scores and work experience, decide in which university you will be accepted in and be able to afford. This process should begin at the latest in the June-July of the year preceding the year when you wish to begin your studies.
Noting down the requirements
Make a list of the requirements of your universities and their deadlines. Note their GRE/GMAT requirements, whether they require you to take the IELTS/TOEFL before submitting your application and how many letters of recommendation they require, especially as these require a great deal of pre-planning. Many of these will overlap hence you can write a couple of personal statements for all of them.
Many universities list their minimum IELTS/TOEFL score requirements and these are generally achievable if some effort is invested. Similarly, a higher GRE score can also be achieved by starting early. Attempt to get your test scores before the deadline. You should utilize resources such as ETS, Kaplan, and Magoosh. Some universities accept studying at a post-secondary institution where English is the language of instruction as proof of English proficiency hence you may be exempt from IELTS/TOEFL for such universities.
Gather all your post-secondary transcripts which should contain all your courses, grades and degrees. Contact your chose recommenders for your letters of recommendation early on. These letters are vital in showcasing your merit and abilities and should be filled out by individuals whom you have done research with, worked under or been taught by. Ensure your CV contains important details about your past work/internship experiences and what you learnt from the tasks assigned.
If you plan to embark on graduate studies, it is best to begin planning in at least the final year of undergraduate studies. Many universities emphasize work experience on their website and even those that do not say so, will look favorably upon such experience, especially when it comes to providing you financial aid. Thinking about what graduate studies you wish to pursue early on will help you plan your application in just the right manner. Ensure that the essays in your applications are relevant and highlight your experiences adequately.
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