The Guide to MS in US by a UC Boulder Student

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Animesh Sahu

Updated on Apr 30, 2021

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To get admitted to Master of Science in any domain in United States is a complex process. Generally people have the superstitious belief that GRE plays the most important part of Graduate School Admissions but to tell the truth it is not. So in this article I have tried to break down the important points in a simple way that might help you all.

  • CGPA:

A lot students ignore this thinking that it is not that important. But to say the truth if you do not have a good CGPA you cannot get a top college like GATECH or PURDUE. You may check that in Yocket. Again a lot of people will contradict this saying that he/she have seen admits with a low GPA. But try to figure out yourself if you want to take a risk and go with it thinking that you will be definitely the one or two who got admitted to a big college with a low GPA or you will be careful from the start. Try not to keep any standing arrears in the sixth semester or so on. Cover up your backlogs before 5th semester. At last I would suggest you keeping a gpa 8.00 or greater if you do not want to risk big colleges.
 

  • GRE:

This portion of the article you might be quite familiar with but I would suggest you to just skim through it at least even if you are not interested in reading. Getting a 310 or greater might be a cake walk for some and might be difficult for some. I scored a 309 within 14 days of preparation. Because of lack of time I was unable to prepare sufficiently but I would suggest you all to give at least 2 months of preparation time.

So here is the list of materials I referred.

  • For vocabulary please refer to application from the Play Store “Simplified GRE Vocabulary by Jamboree”. The advantage of the application is that it enlists all the GRE words having similar meaning within a cluster For eg: Happy: Jest, Jocular, Jocund, Jollity.. which reduces our effort to categorize the words with similar meanings together. There are all total 14 Vocabulary Lists and even if you pick 2 vocab lists per day it will be over within a week. I faced all the vocab words enlisted here in my actual GRE.
  • For model practice questions Magoosh online Practice Portal is the best both for quants and verbal.
  • For AWA refer to Manhattan 5Lb. It provides ample number of sample AWA questions with solutions which would provide you an idea about the AWA section.
  • But no matter how much you have prepared the last 2 weeks should be dedicated to Manhattan 6 mocks where you will get to know your standing in the actual GRE. I used to get in the range of 308-311 during the tests but in the real GRE I got 309.
     
  • TOEFL/IELTS:

You may give either TOEFL or IELTS depending on your suitability. I chose TOEFL. So I would discuss a few tips regarding TOEFL.

  • Practice writing, speaking, listening and reading from TOEFL KMF TESTS. The language is Korean but you can change it using Google Translator.
  • To get familiar with patterns refer Notefull Videos.

Using the above references I prepared for about 2 weeks and got a 100/120. TOEFL is pretty easy if you have prepared for GRE thoroughly.
 

  • SOP:

This is the crucial section of the article. The Statement of Purpose should be your own. You shouldn’t copy or write any others achievements. This generally sums you up in front of the admission committee. Remember try to avoid bombastic words that you do not understand and even the admission committee. It will give an impression to the admission committee that you are hiding few facts or you are not confident enough to express yourself or your achievements. Remember simplicity is the key to a good personality that you will represent via your SOP.

Basically your SOP should consist of the following:

  • Your long term goals
  • How will you achieve your long term goals via your short term goals that you will achieve in due course of MS?
  • Summarize your achievements and your qualifications within two paragraphs.
  • One para should describe the reason that made you to choose the particular domain of the particular graduate school.
  • One para should describe your research or internship or about your work experience.
  • At last a befitting conclusion.

While few colleges like UPitt and ASU require you to write an SOP within 500 words or a page others allow a more elaborate SOP. So its up to you which portion you need to include or exclude in those short SOPs. As a rule of thumb prepare a General SOP and mend your SOPs as per the given word limit by the Graduate School.
 

  • LOR:

Getting a LOR in India is pretty easy as you are the one who will do all the hardwork and only challenge in this is getting in touch with at least three faculties and convincing them to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf to the university. You need to prepare three different LORs with different matter which was a tough task for me.

Now the faculty can send the LOR to the university in 3 different ways:

  • Official Mail id + Official Letter Head
  • Unofficial Mail Id + Official Letter Head
  • Official Mail Id + No Letter Head

I would recommend to carefully go through the ways in which you can send a LOR to any University as some may have their own set of instructions to do this. If nothing is mentioned any of the above method will do good.
 

  • RESUME

As all of you will be familiar with this part I would not discuss much about this. One thing should be kept in mind that a resume should never exceed more than 2 pages.
 

  • RESEARCH PAPERS

Publishing your research work is not a mandatory requirement for MS but having it in hand is a plus point as it will drastically boost your profile. Generally publishing a research paper isn’t that difficult. You need to understand and explain your innovation as may required as per the pattern of the publishing agency. There are a number of IEEE conferences being held in India now and then to which you can send and get your work published. There are a number of journal indexing agencies but the Scopus Indexed Journals and Conferences are the most reputed and popular. So before publishing a paper in a conference or journal check if your Conference or Journal is Scopus Indexed or not.
 

  • ADDITIONAL ESSAYS:

Few Universities will demand additional essays related to your Research Work or Work Experience; Leadership Quality or Volunteering for an NGO. So you will need to take care of these and plan your SOP in such a way that your SOP in no way should match with these additional essays.

Hence as you all may notice I have tried to break down these complex processes in a simple way so that all of you may benefit.

Remember GRE isn’t the only thing that determines your profile. All the above sections mentioned will determine your entire profile for a Graduate School. GRE has only 15-20% weightage. There is nothing called as a strength of a SOP and LOR. Strength is determined based on your achievements and qualifications which varies from individual to individual. So you can’t really estimate the strength which is a relative term.
 

  • COLLEGE SHORTLISTING

After you have completed the above sections ; the next big thing and probably the most important one is College Shortlisting. From my experience I can guarantee you do not ever hire a Consultancy for the purpose of shortlisting. They try to play safe and provide you all with universities way more safe than your profile demands. I was even given the impression that I cannot get UMCP or UC Boulder which are way more ambitious for me. For me they provided me a list which included: SMU, CSU FRESHNO, CSU FULLERTON, DREXEL UNIVERSITY, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY which were damn safe for me. I didn’t even knew there were colleges like UC Boulder and UMCP that provided the same degree that I was dreaming for.

So the ideal way to go for the shortlisting is via LinkedIn. I have connected to nearly 50+ seniors in the same domain via the portal to arrive at my list of Universities based on job prospects and coursework strength. They are very responsive. After getting a list of colleges from the seniors I compared it with the Yocket app the trend of admits at the particular universities that are similar to my profile. After that I shortlisted 6 US universities that have intakes similar to my profile.

This is my experience and a guide for all the aspirants that are aiming for a US University for Fall 19 or afterwards. I hope this helps you all.

My domain of study will be MS in Telecommunications (Specialization: Network Engineering). I will be glad to help any Telecommunication (Wireless or Network Engineering) aspirants.

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