Admits are around the corner. How do you choose which school to select?
The admission process is a long and cumbersome marathon. From deciding which colleges to apply to, to choosing once you receive your admits, every checkpoint requires careful consideration. Since going to another country to study is definitely not an easy decision, we have compiled a list of important resources that will help you make a practical and well thought-out decision.
You may not realize how important this is in India, but networking forms the basis of most of the opportunities you will be able to create for yourself abroad. Talk to your counselors. Proactively ask them for contacts of ex-students. Get in touch with people who have been to the universities you have applied to or received admits from. These current students or alumni will be the best people to give you first-hand information about the college, the courses, the professors, living expenses and anything you may have not even thought about. Do not be afraid or intimidated about contacting people. Most of these students were in the same position as you and understand the importance of imparting practical information. They will be helpful and this endeavor will help you create a network before leaving for the US.
Facebook is one of the best sources to gain knowledge of university-specific and course-specific information. Search for the course name (e.g. MS in Business Analytics) or the college name (e.g. University of Arizona) or the year you are applying for (e.g. Fall 2015 applications). Also universities have their own groups on Facebook (e.g. MS HCI @ GT: Students Past, Present & Future), which help prospective students interact with current students as well as professors for the particular course. You can find links to college-sponsored Facebook groups on the respective college websites. These groups give you an insight into the college culture, the type of people that are applying to the course (their undergraduate university and the amount of work experience), as well as job prospects after graduation.
Google and College Websites
Prepare a list of questions that you want answered. Read the college website thoroughly to understand the course structure, and their descriptions. This will help you select among various colleges, according to your needs and interests. Narrow down your list using any scholarships you may have received or according to the prospect of receiving TAs or RAs. Get in touch with the admission committee and the faculty to clear out your doubts. Not only will this enable you to learn more about the course structure, but will also help you familiarize yourself with the professors.
Educational Websites, Blogs and Forums
Educational counseling websites such as collegepond.com and stupidsid.com have countless articles on different colleges, courses, financing options and scholarships, along with testimonials from different students. Sites like edulix.com, pagalguy.com and usgraduatesblog.com serve as forums for discussion as well as contain the latest news articles. Linkedin.com also has several informational articles, written by students and professionals that help you understand the life students lead there.
Doing your research is extremely important. Getting in touch with the right people will help you gain a clear perspective on colleges. Devote some time to this process, and it will enable you to make a well-informed decision.