Now that you have shortlisted five to six schools, start preparing for your respective GMAT, GRE, SAT, ACT,TOEFL/ IELTS/ PTEA exams as early as 10 to 12 months before university deadlines. To get admission in the university of your choice, aim for good scores. As you prepare for your exams, start putting your application together.
Crisp, insightful essays
Essays can be a make-or-break part of your application. They are a reflection of your personality, your intentions and future goals. So talk about why you have chosen the programme and the university. Explain a low score or a break in your academic or professional life. Don’t repeat information already mentioned in other documents. And please, no grammatical errors or bad prose. More advice later on essays or Statement of Purpose.
Letters of Recommendation are independent opinions of your potential and personality. Insipid recommendations can hamper your selection chances. So seek references from people already familiar with your work like your teachers or former/ current employers. Do not take letters of recommendation from a relative or a friend.
Your academic/ career history
Your résumé, in a page or two, should detail your scholastic and career history, special achievements, awards if any, philanthropy work if taken, extracurricular interests. Remember to keep the structure simple; sentences short and crisp, and do give website links to any published or praised work.
Submit that application
Most schools require an online application now. While your application can be submitted online, the rest of the documents such as statement of purpose (SOP) transcripts, letters of recommendation are to be sent through courier. A quick word on transcripts.
Transcripts are sealed academic records issued by your college or university bearing the signature of the registrar. Either the admission branch sends the transcripts directly to the universities of your choice or students can send it in sealed envelopes. Attested copies or notarized documents are not acceptable.
Okay, your GRE/ GMAT/ SAT/ ACT/ TOEFL/ IELTS scores are in, your résumé, essays, letters of recommendation and a filled in application form are all ready. So before we proceed, shall we do a quick check?
Your application package contains:
Cover letter (Optional)/ Application form/ Application fee/ Résumé/ Essays/ Transcripts/ Test scores/ Letters of recommendation/Proof of finance – Affidavit of support from sponsor and Bank Statement.
What are you waiting for? Submit your application. Sending your application early shows you are eager, organised and disciplined. So send by October/ November. Make note, if you are keen on financial aid, apply by April. It isn’t advisable to send your application by ordinary post, use a reliable courier and send the application at least a week before the deadline. Keep the receipt; so that you can track your application online.
Interviews are usually for Business-school applicants, and an interview call is a positive sign. Interviews assess communication and comprehension skills. Questions could be about your profession, your interests, even the weather. Interviews may be conducted by an admission officer, student or alumni. Often interviews are conducted over the telephone, but university representatives are now visiting countries to interview students. So if you can appear for the interview in person, go for it.
The visa office
The Letter of Acceptance is in your hands and now is the time to prepare for the visa application. You could either visit the embassy or download the visa form from the website. Arrange all visa-supporting documents, and in some cases like the USA, appear for a visa interview.
If you have got your visa, it’s time to pack your bags and say goodbye to your dear ones. But remember, there are rules on how much you can carry, so check with the consulate or go through its website.