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Ace the University shortlisting process for your Masters abroad!

Sumeet Jain

To get into your dream IIT or NIT in India, does it matter how good you were with extra-curriculars or if you did community service? No! If you wish to get into the IITs, you know that you have to crack the JEE. It is crystal clear how a good score in the entrance exam will get you to your favourite college in India and the process involved is rather uncomplicated.

But this is not the case with applying abroad, especially to the US – Universities are selective and have several parameters that judge whether the student is fit to recieve an admit in their University. GRE just being the starting point of the process, Universities weigh different aspects of a profile in different proportions to come to a final decision.

Shortlisting a set of Universities becomes the starting point of the research required to study abroad. There are scores of Universities and appyling to too many of them is not only an expensive affair, it is also quite futile – several Universities will be ‘too safe’ for your profile while there will be those which will be ‘too ambitious’. At the same time, applying to just a couple of Universities is also ill advised as the pool of options available becomes extremely narrow. What needs to be done is applying to a select few Universities with reasonably calculated risks and gains.

How does one go about this? How does one know if a University is too safe or too ambitious?

While this is an important process, it is also one that falls victim to error of human judgement. Students rely on opinions and biases to shortlist Universities and as a result, end up either missing out on a better University or settling for fewer admits.

  • Step 1: In shortlisting Universities is to make a list of Universities that fit your requirements and which you will be able to crack.

    Yocket Grad School Finder tool uncomplicates this rather complicated process through a sophesticated algorithm that relies on dynamic data and trends to generate a list of Ambitious, Moderate and Safe Universities that a profile can have a shot at. Data backed by machine learning helps the tool to accurately generate results that will otherwise only be speculated with great difficulty by friends and peers. The tool processes student specific data entered as one from among pool of 20 thousand crore possible permutations to give a few targeted University options for the particular student. Thus, it not only works as a tool that evaluates your profile, it also helps you discover possible areas where imporvement may help you secure a better admit.

    As said earlier, the research only begins here. One has to spend considerable amount of time in shorlisting Universities as it is the single most important step in your journey of studying abroad. After generating a representative list of Universities that fall within the domain of your application credentials.

  • Step 2: Should be to get in touch with peers who have ‘been there and done that.’. This can be done at 3 different levels.

    To begin with one should connect with students having similar profiles to that of your own. This gives the confidence of taking reasonable decisions while shortlisitng Universities as there may be several others sailing the same boat at the same time. Next, by keeping an eye on recent admits/rejects, one can ascertain the finer aspects of shortlisting and devise strategies accordingly. It is always best to learn from others mistakes than make them yourself! You can ping these peers and get yourself first hand information about what went through.

    Lastly, if you are seriously aspiring to get the best out of your applications, stay in touch with students around you. They may not have similar profiles or past admits/rejects, but being part of large information forums definitely helps. Facebook groups for Fall/Spring aspirants have a plethora of common doubts and large volumes of general information about everything related to studying abroad in general and profile evaluation in particular. The Yocket Discussion forum hosts “Ask Me Anything” (AMAs), apart from general student discussions. One can filter these discussions to Profile Evaluations and post fresh queries or browse through existing discussions to see if their queries are getting solved. By the end of the first 2 steps, one will still have a significant number of universities which can be applied to.

  • Step 3: Is finally making a realistic list of Universities that one will apply to. The list should comprise of all three levels - Ambitious, Moderate and Safe universities. This step is one that students need to take up on an individual level- to analyse which Universities match your interests best, which of them have better research opportunities, other aspects such as setting, location, diversity, deadlines and reviews in general.


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