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Study abroad: How to get into your dream school

By Rohan Ganeriwala
June 21, 2016 09:58 IST
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If you are looking at studying abroad, make sure that you have a flawless college application.

Photograph*: CollegeDegrees360/Creative Commons

Preparation of a strong application is crucial for getting selected into a good college.

It is an elaborate and complex process and therefore, most students have limited and/or incomplete understanding of what it entails: choosing the right college, filling out forms, choosing the right programme, work experience requirement, community service involvement, and of course, writing the college admission essay.

Students often take the application process lightly and miss deadlines, fail to prepare sufficiently and effectively for standardised tests, and scribble off an incoherent application essay and by doing so, throw away the life changing opportunity of an international college experience.

To put together a flawless college application, one must follow a structured process. 

Here are some key tips to help you prepare that 'perfect' application:

  • Remember that 30 per cent of your chance of getting into a good college/dream college depends on your university application.
  • Make the extra effort to ensure that your application is organised and that the minutest details are taken care of.
  • Analyse your options for your majors, and minors, and make sure you choose a subject that matches your aptitude.

The Application Procedure

At the oust, it is important to narrow down on the colleges that interests you and decide on prospective majors and degrees.

Ideally, apply to between five to eight colleges. This will ensure a higher probability of admission/acceptance.

The cost of application can vary from $30 to $100 (Rs 2002 to 6741 INR approx)

While some colleges do not charge at all, the average application fee is $50 (Rs 3370 INR approximately)

When you find a college that you like, consider applying early. This allows you to have everything in place well in advance.

Early decision and action allows one to apply early (usually in November) and get an admissions decision from the college well in advance.

Of utmost importance is to get all application materials/requirements in place, which includes, but may not be limited to:

  • Application forms for each college. The Common Application form is also an application procedure that numerous colleges subscribe to.
  • High school transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers and school counsellors
  • SAT-I scores, which most colleges require as a common standard for measuring a student's ability to do college-level work. SAT-2, depends on the university's one is applying to.
  • Essays and/or statement of purpose -- this can be the deciding factor for acceptance/admission. These offer you an opportunity to express your uniqueness.
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores, which most colleges require of an international applicant.

Statement of purpose

According to a recent study -- while grades, admission tests, and class rank remain important factors in the college admission decision -- a majority of colleges and universities consider 'Essays and Statement of Purpose' to be a key factor in determining which academically qualified students they would choose.

In other words, when all else is equal between competing applicants, compelling essays and/or statement of purpose can make the difference.

Powerful, well-written essays can tip the balance for a marginal applicant and college admission officers look to the essay for evidence that a student can write well and support ideas with logical arguments. They also want gauge the personality and leadership potential of a student. 

For essays, remember these tips:

  • Selection of essay topic is important.
  • Structure your thoughts well and explain what you intend to achieve through the programme.
  • Check for grammatical, spelling and stylistic errors.
  • Proofread and edit your essays before finalising/submitting.

Recommendations

All colleges require recommendation letters. Some specify the recommenders, such as teachers, employers, or personal acquaintances; while others simply indicate the number of recommendations required.

Selection committees want to know as much as possible about you through your referee’s appraisal, such as what they think about you and your academic potential.

You can avail the ideal format for recommendation letters to meet the admission requirement from college consulting firms, so that the letters cover all the important topics and has all the necessary details.

Transcripts

Transcripts are records of a student’s academic performance in high school, such as class results and board (National) examination results.

Note: If the application is not prepared carefully -- that is without procedural and other errors -- immediate rejection can take place from the colleges, even if the student is academically strong.

Lead image used for representational purposes only.

The author Rohan Ganeriwala is co-founder of Collegify, a college consulting firm for study abroad.

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Rohan Ganeriwala Mumbai