From Dreams To Reality: Studying Abroad (Part-1)

From Dreams To Reality: Studying Abroad (Part-1)

National Institute of Technology, Rourkela has always been a place of enigmatic and hardworking students. While most of the students are enthusiastic under the canopy of the institute for placements and jobs, few go beyond this for higher education seeking to quench their thirst for knowledge and by doing so, not only do they tend to satisfy this thirst but also bring about a change or contribute something vested in the larger interests of mankind and future generations.

Getting an MS (Master’s) admit or a PhD offer in the best universities in the world, among the brightest students across the globe, has always been a prestigious achievement. Getting admission in one’s preferred field of specialization is a dream for many, which only a few can accomplish. From acing examinations like GRE and IELTS/TOEFL to cracking interviews along with good project work, bagging such admits have always been arduous but with the onset of various research programmes, the students of NIT Rourkela never fail to grab opportunities in such prestigious universities. 

Hop on to listen directly from the achievers of the last session:

ANWESHA BARIK (NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, BOSTON)

Anwesha_Barik

Anwesha Barik, a graduate from the Department of Biotechnology, has paved her path into Northeastern University with practice and perseverance. We bring to you, her success story in her words.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

I (Anwesha) was always interested in pursuing Master’s abroad since high school, but I wasn’t ready to move out to a different country other than India. For me, it was to get the best of both worlds, to study in NIT for undergraduate, and then opt for Masters. Since biotechnology (my branch) is heavily research-oriented, it was better for me to seek opportunities abroad and a Master’s degree from another country could help me achieve all that.

Initially, I knew about MS, but in brief. I would search up in Google about information regarding the Master’s programmes from various universities and how to go about it. Usually, a lot of companies (e.g. GREdge, Byju’s) assist in admissions for students who don’t have any clue about the MS program. I remember one of the companies had come to our institute for orientations. They also briefly explained how to deal with GRE and TOEFL preparation.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

Universities’ websites are always the best place for getting information. Check if the programme that you are interested in is available in that university (undergraduate programmes) and if there is a section called “Admission requirements”. That column will ask for the requirements you need to meet to qualify for their admission. These generally include your current GPA (which is taken on a 5-point scale, you can search it up on Google to convert from 10 points to 5 points scale), GRE scores (optional in my case when I applied), TOEFL scores, 2 Recommendation letters, a personal statement or statement of purpose and your CV. Once you have fulfilled those requirements, you can start applying for the program. They will ask your basic details, and you will upload documents as your application proceeds. Each university has its deadline for submitting the documents. They ask for an application fee for submitting your application. Also, keep in touch with the admissions office of the university via email; they always offer help regarding applications. The best time to apply for early applicants is around October-November, but you can apply under general application also, which starts around January-March. I shortlisted based on the courses they offer. To be on the safe side, I opted for a few universities where I knew I was going to get in. Keep in track of the deadlines as you may never know you might miss the early call and you will have to enrol yourself at the last minute. It did take me longer to shortlist because I missed some deadlines for some universities, which was an issue for me.

My dream university was Northeastern University in Boston because of its well-known co-op program. In this, we can study our courses and apply for internships or get industrial work experience. Also, Boston is known to be a hub for various biotechnology companies which made me interested in their programme. Other backup options I kept were Rutgers in New Jersey and Wageningen University in the Netherlands. There are many universities where anyone can get a Masters. The first thing to keep in mind is which country you want to study. I narrowed down to the Netherlands and US, both are best known for Biotechnology. The next thing is to shortlist the university you want to study in that provides you with a good programme in your field of interest. Also, one thing to note is what you want to do after a master’s degree, do you want to be an employee or pursue a PhD? Many universities are heavily based on research work, and many have courses based on working in the industry. Choose the universities which you think are easy for you to enter. For example, Ivy leagues and UCs are amazing, and you should give it a try, but other universities have equally good courses. Another critical factor is the Tuition fee. MS is expensive, but one should see whether the program is worth the money or not. Check for scholarships as well because not many universities grant them.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I started around May for both GRE and TOEFL preparation during my internship. And I continued till July and gave my exams around August.  

I focused primarily on the RC and VA section, initially a little more than Quantitative Aptitude (Quants). Quants were all school level, so all I needed was to practice in getting them right in a short time. GRE usually gives around 40 minutes for quants and 35 minutes for verbal and RC each. To crack verbal, one needs to learn a lot of vocabulary. Every day, I would brush up the words that I learned with their meaning and example and keep a note of that. RC in GRE has a pattern or trend which once you notice, you can figure that out. AWA has two categories: analyze the given issue and analyze an argument. The former is where you give your opinion either for or against, but the latter is where you have to support the statement. So accordingly, the situation was given, and I jotted out points and wrote the full essay in the given time limit. I used to give 3 hours a day for overall preparation.

I used the official guide for GRE by ETS and Prepscholar to do everyday practice tests. I used Apps such as Magoosh and software such as Membean for vocabulary. I went through YouTube for tutorials. It’s not that difficult once you practice. ETS has its mock tests where we can practice at the given time set. I practised two on their platform and several others on the prep scholar website.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

When going for masters in research, try to get exposure for research. Take up a project under a professor and publish any form of a research article (like a conference paper, research paper, or a book chapter), just get exposure. If you didn’t start in the second year, it’s not an issue! You can start slow and work your way up. You can get most work done in your final year as well, but again it all depends on your professor. Internships and Product Development Laboratory projects are bonuses.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FURTHER 

My program is MS in Biotechnology in ‘Pharmaceutical Technologies’ concentration. As of now, I want to get industrial experience in this field by working under reputed pharmaceutical companies. I haven’t thought of getting a PhD yet, but if there is any field of research that piques my interest, I will give it a try.

WORDS TO THE WISE

MS isn’t as tough as I thought it would be. I would suggest anyone give MS a try. It’s like an investment, you get exposure to a new place, get to connect with new people, and network with them. It’s like exploring a new world filled with opportunities while contributing to society.

SRIJA MUKHOPADHYAY (COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK)

srija

From being a student of the department of Ceramic Engineering at NIT Rourkela to getting an MS to admit in the elite Columbia University, Srija Mukhopadhyay has carved her success trail through sheer patience and tenacity. Given below is the story of the achiever.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Honestly, I (Srija) wasn’t always inclined towards pursuing MS after graduation. I had very little idea about what my branch had to offer in my first and second years. Given the fact that there are very few colleges in India that have Ceramic Engineering as a separate branch, my knowledge of its scope was limited. Towards the end of the second year, I decided to apply for a research internship at IIT BHU, during which I gained a little more experience and awareness than what I had when I started. The work was based on ceramic-based dielectrics which were an entirely new topic for me at the time. Eventually, in my third year after completing my SIRE internship from the University of Alberta, Canada, through MITACS, my interest had grown manifold, and I decided, I wanted to explore this domain. 

In the beginning, I was all over the place, unsure of how to go about the entire process. It helped that a few of my friends were also planning to apply, and that gave me some clarity on the subject. Other than that, I got some of the information from the university websites, various articles about the same, and articles about our college alumni pursuing masters. As the application process progressed, it gradually paved the way for more clarity.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM 

The application procedure for Columbia mainly involved two stages. The first stage was completing the application form. The application required a Statement of Purpose, a minimum of three recommendations, a research CV, official scores of GRE and TOEFL, and the college transcript. Once it was submitted, after a month or so, a digital one-way interview was conducted. 

The application deadline for most of the colleges that I applied to was between November end and February. Therefore it is better to start a few major steps of the process like preparing the SOP and getting the scores of GRE and TOEFL ready at least a month before the deadline, depending on the university.

The shortlisting of colleges is a very lengthy and cumbersome process and needs extensive research based on several criteria such as the ongoing research on the field you are interested in and its scope, facilities, cost of the program, the provision of RA/TAship, etc. Narrowing down to an ideal number of colleges to apply to was a difficult task given the lack of guarantee at the time. 

While applying, it is crucial to keep in mind that every college has different requirements when it comes to the application. Some colleges do not require GRE scores while some may ask for a personal statement along with the SOP. One of the colleges that I applied to required a copy of the official transcript along with several other documents to be sent by post before the deadline which I barely managed to do. In addition to that, the professors should be intimated about the recommendation letters well in advance to ensure their submission on time.

Some of the other universities that I applied to were Johns Hopkins University, Purdue University, ETH Zurich, Georgia Tech, and UWM (MS in all). The main reason why I chose them would be the immense scope they have for my programme, the potential of the ongoing research, their rankings in that field, and the job options available after completion.

The primary criteria while shortlisting is based on the selection of the programme that a candidate wants to pursue, along with facilities, job opportunities, the provision of RA/TAship, etc. Apart from the availability of resources and scope, it is also essential to look into the courses being offered and the flexibility of the program.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I started preparing for GRE 1-1.5 months before the exam date. Because my TOEFL exam was scheduled for a day after GRE, I concentrated entirely on GRE and just gave one mock test for TOEFL to get familiar with the question pattern.

The VARC is the most difficult section in the entire exam, in my opinion. I practised questions related to this section from different books and also took the help of apps such as Magoosh GRE Vocabulary Flashcards, Manhattan Prep. I tackled Quant mainly by solving questions and learning the new topics from the book. For AWA I learned about the different kinds of approaches for different questions through video lectures and made sure to practice at least once before appearing for the main exam.

I did not assign an equal number of hours to each section every day. I made it a point to devote some time to Verbal daily, but for the other two sections, this varied a lot. The books I followed were- ETS Official Guide to GRE and Barron.

I did not practice anything specifically for the TOEFL. I appeared for one mock exam to become familiar with the pattern. In both these sections, it is important to make sure you don’t run out of points before the stipulated time elapses or vice versa.

I appeared for the 2 ETS official mock tests that are available once you apply for the exam. I gave one before starting my preparation to know where I stand and the second one a little later during preparation. I practised a few other mock tests of Magoosh and the ones that came with the books as well.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

I think the most important thing needed in a CV is a straightforward objective mentioning exactly what one is aspiring for. Apart from that, I believe having a paper or publication gives an edge, especially if you are applying for MS/PhD.  In addition to that, a good number of extra-curricular activities and instances of taking the initiative to play a major role in shaping your CV along with research experience in any capacity and other achievements.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FURTHER 

My field of study at the university will be Materials Science and Engineering. After completion of MS as of now, I wish to work in the Research and Development sector, specific to ceramics or polymers. I aim to work for 2-3 years to gain more knowledge and hands-on experience in the industry before deciding if I want to apply for a PhD.

WORD TO THE WISE

Take advantage of every opportunity available to you and embrace them as learning experiences and stepping stones towards your future. In the current situation with the availability of a plethora of certified courses, take time, identify and explore your interests, and develop your skills. The application process is tedious and the waiting period will get discouraging at times but keep in mind that ultimately your dedication will pay off.

SIDDHESH BORKAR (TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, TEXAS, USA)

siddhesh

Siddhesh Borkar, a graduate from the Department of Chemical Engineering, marked his way towards the prestigious Texas A&M University. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

When I (Siddhesh Borkar) first joined engineering, I had no clear plans for what I wanted to do after BTech, whether it would be masters, MBA, or a job. In my 2nd and 3rd years, I started enjoying some of my core subjects, and I thought that higher studies were a good prospect for me rather than simply landing myself a job or changing my stream to management. The primary catalyst, however, was my internship at the end of the third year at IIT Gandhinagar. I had a great time as a research intern there. It then became clear that to enter proper R&D; masters is an absolute minimum requirement. It was also partially because, in BTech, we don’t get that much exposure to our fields and interests. So when I entered my 4th year, it was clear in my head that I wanted to do masters. I would certainly suggest that one should ideally make up their mind before the 5th-semester ends-such that they can have those additional six months to prepare everything, right from GRE preparation to university shortlisting.

I would say that there are three primary sources of information for higher studies. The first and most obvious source is the internet. Several different websites, such as Yocket and CollegePond, provide consulting services about masters, PhD, and higher studies. But most of this information is generalized.

The second and most critical source is alumni. Students from your institute who have gone for masters or PhD can give you the perfect guidance. In my case, I have a friend who recently graduated from the University of Michigan in chemical engineering. Also, I have another friend who is currently studying at Georgia Tech. They both, among others, helped me throughout the initial stages of the process. People who have graduated from your college can give you the best perspective of your prospects and can provide you with the first-hand experience for NIT Rourkela graduates as a master’s or PhD student.

The third source is your batchmates who are also in the same boat of applying for higher studies. Luckily for me, many of my close friends are going for higher studies too. It helps one get a fresh perspective as well as the opportunity to discuss among one’s peers.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

The application procedure for almost all the universities is more or less the same. The only different thing is the timeline. Some universities close their applications in late November while some in March-April. You usually require a statement of purpose(SOP), 2-3 recommendation letters, documents like mark sheets, provisional certificates, degree certification with the year of graduation, etc., and your GRE, TOEFL/IELTS scores. Some universities don’t require a GRE score. It is always better to apply early as some universities have rolling admission while some have a batch evaluation system, and it entirely depends on the university. So considering everything, one should start ideally in the middle of September.

The shortlisting procedure differs from person to person. I would recommend applying for at least 6-8 universities. Out of which 2-3 (dream), 2-3 (moderate), and 1-2 in the safe category. 

I will be joining Texas A&M University (TAMU) for MS in Chemical Engineering. I must admit, however, that I had indeed applied to a few other universities in the ‘dream’ category as well. They were the University of Michigan, the University of Delaware, and TU. Delft. Unfortunately, I did not get into them, probably because they require quite a high undergrad CGPA. In my opinion, universities have specific admission criteria and are generally very strict about them. Unless one has an exceptional profile, it is usually difficult to get around those benchmarks. Amongst admits, I chose TAMU as it has a top-notch chemical engineering department, a very suitable Masters program (for me) and also a dedicated group working in reaction engineering and catalysis, which will be my fields of study. Also, Texas is located in the southern region of the US, and a lot of chemical manufacturing and petroleum industries are concentrated there. And these industries could yield me prospective job opportunities later after completion of masters.

The most crucial aspect of selecting your potential universities for grad study is that it must have a program that is suitable to your plans and that it must have ongoing research that you’d like to contribute to. You may then move on to looking at the university rankings, costs, location, etc. Then the region you wish to study in can also play a huge role; it can be Asia, North America, Europe, or any other. Accordingly, you can eliminate universities. Once you have a nascent list ready, you need to check individual university profiles and check whether the department is working in your field of interest. After identifying this, you can get the admission requirements and evaluate whether you can make the cut or not. Often the websites mention the duration of the program and about thesis or non-thesis options. One needs to target the programs according to his convenience and planning.

A significant part of the application process is obtaining transcripts and recommendation letters. You need to request the professors to give you a good recommendation letter and submit those within time. At times, this could get a little tedious. Some universities require transcripts or entire application packages to be sent to them in hard copy through the mail. One must be aware of that and make proper arrangements. Some students may require financial assistance and may apply for waivers, and that may require some extra processing time.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I had answered GRE and TOEFL. TOEFL and IELTS check whether you are efficient in English or not. They are not competitive exams. The university will not judge you based on your score. So there is no need to stress a lot on these exams. One needs to work on basics and understand the different sections it has and develop approaches accordingly. GRE is different, and it requires preparation, particularly in the verbal and reasoning sections.

I started preparation precisely three months before GRE; around July. I used to prepare for GRE for almost 2 ½ hours every day. I answered GRE in October 1st week.

Quants: It is quite an easy section and is based on one’s concentration. It consists of basic math. One needs to be aware of all the concepts and must take care not to commit silly mistakes or assumptions. The only way to master this is by practising and giving mock tests. It is very much possible to get a perfect score in this section.

Verbal Reasoning: For the reasoning part, one should be able to analyze the given comprehension properly and arrive at inferences and judgments. This can be mastered by practising questions, reading comprehension, and once you practice enough questions, you get mechanical about it.

For vocabulary, one’s vocabulary needs to be on point. There are two ways to achieve that. One is that due to very good reading habits, you already have a competent vocabulary that just needs a bit of polishing. The alternative strategy for vocabulary is you need to by heart the lists of words that certain trainers or websites provide. You can be assured that if you learn those words, then some of them may come in the exam.

AWA: In the AWA section, one needs to analyze some given arguments and write descriptive answers based on them. The best way to do so is by reading sample answers, examining the common elements, and practising writing answers accordingly. Also, one needs to be familiar with sentence construction, case, and opinion building. These can be excelled by reading articles based on opinions and discussions.

TOEFL: For speaking and listening sections, they are youtube videos available. They are like mock speaking and listening sessions. They give you the prompt, which is followed by a 20-second window for your answer and then give their version of the answer. Following those videos and practising alongside them is more than enough.

I primarily followed the books Manhattan Prep and the ETS material.

When you purchase the GRE, one gets two free mock tests from ETS. And those mock tests are pretty similar and accurate in terms of what you score in the main exam. It would be best if one gives them towards the end of their preparation. Also, there are some books like Manhattan Prep, Barron’s GRE Prep, and Magoosh GRE Prep, which have good mock tests. I think giving 7-8 mock tests in addition to the two provided by ETS is well enough. The more important part is the analysis of the mock tests and correcting the mistakes.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING A GOOD CV

The first and foremost thing is your undergraduate performance. To pursue masters in the same field as your undergraduate, I believe that at least in the core subjects, you ought to have a good grade. 

The second most important thing is whatever you have done in your past related to academics or non-academics, must be leading towards the area you are targeting. You need to present them in such a way that they must all be connected with links between them.

As for chemical engineering students are concerned, I can say basic coding skills are required, especially in the area of mathematical and numerical analysis. So if any student is familiar with Python or MATLAB programming, then it is very beneficial. Also, if you can demonstrate that you are accustomed to other designing or simulation software like Aspen, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, then that might also prove as valuable.

Additionally, one can do courses on Coursera, Udemy, Edx related to fields of their interest. But just make sure that whatever is written in your CV is heading in one direction.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FURTHER

My field of study is catalysis and reaction engineering. As of now, my ultimate ambition is to get into the research and development field as a chemical engineer, probably along the lines of the chemical synthesis. Depending on how my masters go, I will either go for a PhD or look for a job that has some R&D aspects.

WORDS TO THE WISE

It was advised to me, and I would like to pass it on to juniors that one must be going to masters with an open mind. At TAMU, at the beginning of the semester, all the faculty members discuss their work and projects with the students. Students can individually go to the professors, interact with them, and then decide to join them. Your area or field of study is not pre-decided. Different universities have different policies regarding this. And in some cases, your research or sub research is pre-decided. In most cases, it would be helpful if you go with an open mind and are willing to explore different areas unless you are resolute towards a field.

My advice is that you must aim for the best universities possible, and the only way to go about this is by not having any second thoughts in your application process. If you feel like some universities are way above your profile, it is okay, but you should not be afraid of applying to those universities. It is fine to get a few rejections. You should never feel that you could have got into something better, and you were too afraid to apply for it. Whatever your ambitions are, just make an effort towards it.

Another advice I would like to give is that before all else, try to have a good hold on your academics. You can have all your extracurricular things to supplement your profile. But your primary profile is going to be reliant entirely on your CGPA and grade card. I feel that even if you don’t have that many successful projects or papers and if you have a good CGPA, then you can mould your SOP in such a way that it shows a promise to the graduate committee that because you have a very good academic understanding, you will be able to perform well in that area. The final thing to do would be to give a good shape to your profile and have it heading in one specific direction, your long term goal and how you plan to achieve it. 

RASHMITA CHATTERJEE (UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, CANADA)

Rashmita_Chatterjee

After grabbing a graduate degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering, Rashmita Chatterjee is all set on her next expedition for a Masters degree from the reputed University of Manitoba. Given below is an excerpt from the interview.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

I (Rashmita) had always made up my mind to go for higher education rather than joining a job just after graduation, as suggested by my father. During the completion of my first year, I started looking for avenues that are possible at my department, and eventually, I found the area of Neuroscience interesting! Electrical Engineering has an immense role to play in the field of Neuroscience.

Being a Sophomore, I devoted my time to look for various research kinds of stuff and ended up undergoing a research internship. That was the time when I decided to pursue research as a career option!

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

I had been to the University of Manitoba for a research internship at the end of my pre-final year. It was a Mitacs research internship under a professor from the Psychology department. There the trade was related to proprioceptive, visual feedback, and the electrical signal input to the nervous system. I consulted my professor to gain knowledge about other professors who were from the Electrical Engineering department with a Biomedical background. Henceforth, I came in contact with a professor named Zahra Moussavi, and she guided me to get through the application procedure.

Unlike the other Universities, one needs to contact the professor before applying to the program at the University of Manitoba. At the end of July, I gave my GRE and TOEFL and then applied to 9-10 colleges. At this point, 

I also mailed Prof. Zahra Moussavi, and fortuitously, she gave me a green signal. The whole application process will start when you are preparing for exams, so exams should be given before mid-September as all the University’s portal opens by September. All the USA-based applications end by December, whereas Canada-based lasts until February, which will be around 6-7 months.

Just like other candidates, I too applied to various universities. It was clear for me to go for a PhD in the USA or Masters in Canada. If I talked about the USA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Georgia Tech, and the University of Washington were on my priority list.

Coming to Canada, I wanted a Masters at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, or the University of Manitoba!

Before shortlisting the universities, students should have a clear vision of their area of study, not pinpointed, but a rough one will also do. Don’t just search for Universities rather professors of the same field, maintaining a good track record and h-index. Aspirants should go through background research on professors, check their website, read articles, and check if they get some funding because funding is an issue for foreign universities.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I appeared for TOEFL on 24th August and marked 2nd September for GRE. I started my preparation for GRE around mid-June, which was during the pre-final year internship. Before starting my GRE preparation, I gave a mock test to have a rough idea about its pattern.

One needs to get well-acquainted with various sections like the Quant, VARC, and AWA. Quant or Quantitative Analysis deals with the mathematics of intermediate level, which engineering students have a good grasp on! After the first mock test, I realized topics like probability, permutation, and combination bothered me, so I paid particular attention to them. The Quant part is quite easy; the students only need to brush up on their basics and be consistent with their practices.

Next, comes the VARC, which demands a good vocabulary. I showed my sincerity for this section from mid-June from the Magoosh Flashcard app, just picking up 1 set every day is more than enough. Manhattan prep and ETS GRE official guide books also proved worthy.

For AWA, I started preparing only two weeks ago. But it is my genuine advice to all aspirants to write at least one essay a week. Neither more nor less devote 8-9 hours every week, and don’t forget to appear for mock tests. Start giving mock tests three weeks before, and 9-10 mock tests are sufficient.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

When it comes to CV, content is a must! I would advise the students to have an idea by the 2nd year and opt for internships that are streamlined to their area of interest. In the Masters, the professor’s expectations are far beyond the academic curriculum. Run for projects, even a small project is like icing on the cake, and hands-on experiences are valuable. Just check for the prospects from your particular branch to get a brief idea of the things you may do later. 

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FURTHER

My Master’s project is the study of the effect of age on navigational properties using Virtual Reality. Ideally, after this, I have the ambition to work in a Biomedical device company or some device implementation which will help with elevating any disease or illness.

WORDS TO THE WISE

I would like to advise the students, especially in the case of Canada that they need to contact professors before applying to a lot of universities. There is a rush between August-September. So, the process of drafting emails should be started by the summer of 3rd year, as hardly any professor responds to emails. The entire process may be very demanding and gruelling. Don't lose heart and be patient. Things usually work out in the most unexpected way!"

MRINAL CHAUDHURY (GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSITY, GEORGIA, US)

Mrinal

Mrinal Chaudhury, a graduate from the Department of Industrial Design, has always been an inspiration with her achievements and further, as she is ready to pursue her masters at the prestigious Georgia Tech university, Atlanta. Given below is an excerpt from the interview

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Preparing for higher education majorly depends on which branch one is in. When I entered my branch, it was still developing, and my career in designing is highly competitive as a company requires only two to three in that field. That made me inclined towards the higher studies from the start. It got cemented more and more in the next three years, as I realized to be a professional in my field, I haven’t gathered enough knowledge or experience yet. 

To gather information regarding MS its always advisable to contact your seniors. Unfortunately, I didn’t have seniors to contact. But, for basic information like the exams required and shortlisting universities, I contacted the seniors of other branches. Other important things were that I followed the universities from the websites and social media, read about the universities and their rankings from the journals, finding out the university you want to join. Another efficient way is to contact the current students in the program you want to join through LinkedIn and get the information.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

For application procedure first, you have to go to the website of the university and the course you want to apply to. One needs to take the required examinations, which are:

  • English proficiency test (IELTS/TOEFL)

  • Graduate Record Examination (USA)

  • CEED 

  • Direct PhD entrance exams/interview 

Documents which are required to be made are:

  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)

  • Letter of recommendation (2-3)

  • Portfolio for design students 

It’s always to apply in early applications for financial aid which is generally from September to January, though the application process remains open till April. This might not be the case this year due to the global pandemic. After uploading all the documents, they shortlist students across the globe and let you know. The whole process of collecting information, checking important factors like financial aid, making documents and preparing for exams took around one and a half years.

Problems I faced while applying for colleges were very specific and important. Specialization courses have different names for same courses due to which finding relevant interests is difficult. For example, Industrial design here was named as innovation design engineering and product design engineering. This is an important point to consider since one can miss out on important colleges.  

Bucket list: I missed many universities due to change of specialization names, but I had applied to very few colleges in the first attempt which were Aalto University, Finland, Delft university of technology Netherlands, Georgia tech and RISD  

For shortlisting universities, these important points need to be considered:

  • Your specialization 

  • Students project and curriculum

  • Research works 

  • Post-study opportunities 

  • Financial constraints 

  • Teaching quality and reputation in your area of specialization 

  • Ranking 

  • Your chances to get the college 

PREPARATION STRATEGY

GRE: I didn’t prepare for GRE much as it is not a very tough course. I used a few preparation resources which are enough for the preparation. Those are ETS GRE prep, Magoosh premium apk and GRE Manhattan apk. It has 3-4 practice tests and books which are enough.

IELTS\TOEFL: For its preparation, I used the official website and Cambridge English.

I took around 9-10 mock tests for IELTS and 3 for GRE.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

I followed the standard CV advice given by communication strategists and the TnP cell. One needs to modify their CV for everything different they apply for, as for jobs, it’s different from colleges. Most importantly, you need to build your skills to a great extent. As for designing, they usually require knowledge of 4-5 software. Another important thing is a good internship as they add to your value and help you with mentors and recommenders. One more important factor is not to put irrelevant things in your CV as the quality of your CV matters more than the quantity.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FURTHER

My field of study will be the same as B.Tech, which is Industrial design at Georgia Tech University. It is a professional course rather than a thesis-based course, so I will have a year of the project followed by specialization of the course. After my masters, I aim at joining the design department of a proper product-based company. 

WORDS TO THE WISE

I have two pieces of advice for the juniors which are: explore things and learn about yourself. Know the specialization you want to work in, know where and how you want to do it. It's not always like if you don’t get a job you have to go for higher studies. And take your time before rushing into applications as there is no expiry date for applying for masters. So always go for one when you’re ready enough.

Team MM wishes all the achievers the best of luck for their future endeavours!

Stay tuned to Part-2 of this article, as we bring another set of admits in our next issue!

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