We know that Prevention is better than cure, rather than introspecting about why your application got rejected after spending hundreds of dollars on application fees, it’s better to know what mistakes to avoid, and that is why our today’s topic is “Avoid Common Mistakes While Applying for MS in the US”. So that you can have a smooth application process the first time around. Based on real stories, and student Experiences in this post we are going to discuss the top five mistakes to avoid when applying for a Ms in the US. So, Let’s jump into the topic.
Number – 1: University Selection.
Choosing universities incorrectly can be the first trouble in this mission. Shortlisting universities requires a holistic understanding of the university. It’s key strengths and your own profile Strengths and Weaknesses. many times I see students shortlisting universities simply based on rankings. Please remember, rankings do not automatically equal academic prestige and employability.
Yes, it’s a good starting point for you to start your selection process, but it’s more important for you to look at the university and the course you’re considering. Besides, it’s important to keep in mind that the criteria based on which the rankings are made may not necessarily match your own. It’s very similar to picking a partner based simply on popularity rather than looking at what’s right for you.
Another mistake that I see students make quite often is simply trusting their seniors, friends, or relatives and going by either their suggestions or their decisions.
Remember, your profile may be much better than that of your seniors or your friends, or your relatives, and you can actually make a compelling case. If you worked hard to get into universities much better than them, why are you limiting yourself?
Similarly, another related problem with shortlisting universities is that students typically tend to choose very few universities or very ambitious universities for their profile. In both cases, you’re more likely to end up with more rejects than admits. Just like mutual fund investments. It is important for you to diversify your risk when applying to universities abroad.
So always pick universities that are slightly better than your profile, which we like to call ambitious. Universities that are definitely within range, which is your target, and universities where you have a good chance of getting in that are safe for your profile.
Solution: So what can you do instead?
First, make a list of factors that are important for you and shortlist universities. Based on that, this initial list should have at least 15 to 20 universities for you. Now start bringing this list down to an ideal set of eight to ten universities that are diversified by admitting chances.
Ideally, you’d want to apply to three ambitious universities, five target universities, and two safe universities. This is of course just an example. You can vary your admit chances based on your own risk appetite.
Wondering how to easily get an ambitious target and safe university list for your profile? Then we recommend reading this article, Best Tips to Shortlist Universities.
Number – 2: Eligibility Criteria.
Not Meeting Eligibility Requirements this may seem really obvious on the surface, but there aren’t many nuances to your profile when you’re applying abroad. For example,-
- Are you changing majors?
- Do you have a three-year bachelor’s degree instead of four?
- Do you meet the GRE, and GPA requirements?
- Do you have a low GPA but no backlogs?
- Do you have a low GPA and backlog but a great GRE score?
These differences can make or break your application if you don’t understand the past admission data.
Solution: So what can you do instead?
Go through the admission eligibility requirements of your course in your chosen universities. Compare that with your current profile as it is, and remember, be very honest about it. Do your own SWOT analysis on your profile.
Look at your key strengths, your weaknesses, things that you may have to explain in your SOP, or things that you may need to do to boost your admission chances.
Remember, universities, where you need to do certain activities to boost your admission chances, should ideally be marked with a star, and you should be mindful of your admission chances in that particular university.
Number – 3: Tuition Fees Calculation.
making a Wrong Budget Most Indian universities calculate fees in a pretty straightforward manner. It’s either yearly or by semester. In the US. You have two main ways in which tuition fees are calculated. It is either by a credit hour or by semester.
Many students fail to estimate the credit hours required correctly and hence end up with the wrong total for their tuition fees. Or they don’t double check if the tuition fees mentioned are yearly or by semester and end up applying to the wrong universities, which are way out of budget for them.
On a related note, another expensive mistake here is not calculating living expenses. Take New York, for example, a typical student budget would be anywhere between 1000 and $1,200 for the present time. So for the duration of your course, which could be 18 to 20 months, you will end up spending $22000 to $25000.
Solution: So what can you do instead?
Make a realistic estimate of what it is like to actually live and study in the course and university of your choice. Add things like tuition fees, living expenses, books and supplies, transportation costs, and any other personal expenditure that you may have, for example, shopping, travel, etc.
To get a realistic picture of the ground, it’s always a good idea to connect with seniors or alumni from the university. Use LinkedIn as a free tool to speak to them and get a realistic picture of what the expenditure is like and how you can save costs as well.
Number – 4: Documentation.
Not Being Authentic while Creating Documents is another big mistake for us. Many students assume that writing documents is very similar to engineering drawings. Just like how they delegated these drawings to friends who had better skills, they tend to do the same with their SOPs, giving it off to friends who are good at English or who are better writers.
Copy-pasting an SOP from a senior or taking a document from the Internet or basing it off on a template can land you into trouble, because admission officers see thousands of applications every intake, and they can spot a template from a mile away.
Besides, only you can tell your story authentically. While experts can guide you on what to include or exclude, what to say has to come from you and from your heart.
Solution: What can you do instead?
First, reflect on your journey and jot down reasons why you felt compelled to pick a particular course or a particular university. Now, frame a story around it. Talk about your academic and social background. Share how it shaped your motivation to apply for this particular course. Share what you have done so far in terms of exploring this particular motivation, be it through academic opportunities, work opportunities, research opportunities, whatever they may be. And definitely share why you think a master’s is going to help further this motivation and your vision for how it’s going to help you in the future.
Remember, write plenty of rough drafts and experiment with different opening lines. You can always take help from experts who are at writing to correct your grammar, change your sentence structures, rearrange your essay, et cetera. But the core essence of the SOP has to come from you. So be brave and start with the first draft by yourself.
Number – 5: Timeline.
A big mistake for students in this mission is starting Too Late. Many students actually underestimate how much time it takes to put together a great application together. Whether it is getting the test scores that you want or writing rewriting your SOP, giving your recommenders enough time to write your LORs, or getting academic transcripts from colleges. All of these are in somebody else’s control and take time to come together as an experiment.
Ask anyone with an IVY League admin. Apart from their own profile, most students would have started the application process much earlier. Ideally, we recommend that you give yourself at least eight to twelve months to put together a great application.
If you’re wondering what an ideal timeline looks like, then recommend this article: Ideal Timeline to start Application for MS.
Of course, there are many more mistakes to avoid, which happen during the process, but these are the top five that you can protect yourself from at the beginning itself. To more effective results keep continuing your research.