Click here for Part 3 - Essays.
Assuming you’re done applying by say, December 31st, you have about 2 to 3 months to wait before the admission decisions start rolling in. While some do get a response as early as end of January or mid-February, the general consensus is around the beginning of March all the way till May or sometimes even June. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that colleges with earlier deadlines will respond faster. What goes behind the screens inside the admission committees is a mystery we’ll never unearth. I did find universities in UK responding much faster though. Most of them had deadlines open till late March or even rolling deadlines that never closed. Glasgow replied to my application literally the next morning. Bath, Leeds and Queen Mary took less than 3 weeks, as stated in their website. Imperial stated a wait of maximum 4 weeks but responded in the 6th week only. Still, all of them were mighty faster compared to US.
My point is, you got time to kill now. And this is usually when the mind starts to ruminate about what you’ve been doing the last few months and the reality of what’s to come. A big bummer in that reality is money, how much you’ve spent and how much you’re yet to spend and will it all be worth it and will you ever make it back. Here’s how much I spent.
Click here for Part 2 - Exams.
One of the really cool things about applying abroad is that you get to make your case. As far as I know it’s all about numbers in India. You have a defined entrance exam and a set cut-off you clear. Reservation quotas might come into play then. Sometimes there’s an interview and even then it’s too technical. Nobody asks you about your story or what purpose you think you will serve by getting this degree. Foreign universities make space for this in the form of personal and academic statements, usually put together as one – the statement of purpose.
Click here for Part 1 - Choices.
Once you’re set on colleges, take a look at their deadlines and start registering for the mandated exams. The General GRE is pretty much a standard for all STEM courses. Business and management courses will need GMAT. Specialized courses like pure sciences, literature and mathematics might need a subject GRE but few universities have begun phasing them out recently. Except very few cases, which differ with each college, you will almost certainly need to take a language test, either TOEFL or IELTS. Go figure.
So last week my visa finally came in and in another five weeks, I am out of the country for a minimum of two years. This time last year, I was clueless. I was taking online courses on computational fluid dynamics in hopes of landing a job as an aerospace engineer. Now I’m a month away from starting my master’s degree in physics. What happened? Either the best or the stupidest decision of my life, that’s what happened. (more…)