Treading the Path of Higher Studies: Foreign Admits Part-2

Treading the Path of Higher Studies: Foreign Admits Part-2

NIT Rourkela has been an encamp for very adept and conscientious minds across the nation. It has been an agonizing ground for the achievers who aim for higher education across the globe to upgrade their range of abilities and payback to the community. 

MS, MBA admissions, and Ph.D. offer from the world's leading universities among the most competent candidates have traditionally been distinguished achievements. For many, getting affirmation into the particular field of expertise is a dream that only a few great achievers can achieve. From acing exams like GRE, GMAT, and IELTS/TOEFL to cracking interviews alongside good project work has consistently been a burdensome errand. Nonetheless, with the introduction of several research programs, students of NIT Rourkela never miss out on possibilities to pursue higher education at prestigious universities.

Continuing with the adventure of achievers from the past article "Treading the path of higher studies: Foreign Admit(Part-1)", bounce on to find out about the achievers:

ASHWIN SEKHARI, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS, USA 

From being a student of the Department of Computer Science Engineering at NIT Rourkela to getting an MS to admit to the elite University of California, Ashwin Sekhari has carved his success trail through sheer patience and tenacity. Given below is the story of the achiever.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

I decided that I will be going for higher studies after my first-year summer break when I interned at IIT Kanpur. After which, I got opportunities to work/visit Israel, the Univerisity of Waterloo, and Stanford University. All of these experiences consolidated my belief in pursuing higher education. I feel that during my undergraduate I was exposed to many areas and subjects, but something was missing, and that something was depth. This depth is what I am looking for in my higher education. 

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM 

I applied to universities that had strong systems/networks groups and professors I wanted to work with. To name some, I applied to Cornell University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Massachusetts, the University of California, Purdue University, and a few more. Ultimately I decided to go to the University of California, Davis, because of its location and my advisor. Admissions for US universities is more of a holistic process; they want to judge and see if you'd be compatible with their research group and if you'd be able to perform in the universities program. If you compare successful applicants in all the top universities, they have near-perfect grades and scores. So what matters more is your past research, zeal, passion, and ability to make connections. 

The Application Process is relatively simple. You have to register on their website, fill in your undergrad/nationality details, CV, Statement of Purpose (SOP), Letter of Recommendations (LOR), and then pay the fees. You get invited for interviews if you applied for research programs. The best tip which I can give you is to apply early. Probably 6-7 months in advance, start making a shortlist. Expect your SOP and CV to undergo thousands of revisions and take 3-4 months. Another benefit of applying early is sometimes you get a priority in admission/funding, especially if the university has rolling admissions. 

MAIN CRITERIA FOR YOUR DESIRED UNIVERSITY

Admissions for MS are relatively more straightforward than a PhD program because PhD is a big commitment. You need to have complete trust that the candidate will be successful, and PhD candidates are admitted directly into the research groups by the recommendations from current faculty. Apart from that, in both cases, they look at your CV, SOP, GPA, LORs. LORs play a vital role, and most of the time, is a deciding factor.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

So think of it as your GPA, GRE, and TOEFL/IELTS are more of a rejection criterion than an acceptance criterion, i.e., you may or may not be accepted based on your scores, but you'll get rejected if they are on the lower side. To summarise, keep these points in mind:

  1. Coming from an engineering background, you won't face much difficulty in the quant section of the GRE; you just have to read the questions very carefully (details matter). On the other hand, Verbal is a bit challenging for non-native speakers as you have to learn 1000s of new words.
  2. Give early, you are relatively chill in your second/third year, and the GRE scores are valid for five years. Try to give early so that you have time left for re-attempts. 
  3. Give as many mock tests as possible and in an exam setting.  
  4. You can do Manhattan 8 series, Manhattan 5 lb, ETS official books (must), Youtube (Greg Mat) for preparation.

DEALING WITH ACADEMICS

I had amazing friends who always helped me in all situations. The pandemic came with a lot of its challenges. Switching to online mode from offline was a bit harsh, both mentally and physically. You have a lot of responsibilities at home, and sitting in front of a computer for 6-7 hours takes a toll. Nevertheless, it had its benefits and drawbacks. In the end, it all worked out, and I am happy that it did. 

In short, it's not a one-day thing or a week-long thing; you have to continuously work on improving your profile, finding universities, and shortlisting them, and ultimately applying to them.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

A resume for a job and a one for higher education are very different. Having international research experiences helps a lot, but it's okay even if you don't have them. Your CV should be aligned and directed towards a research area that you want to pursue research programs. You can always reach out to seniors for any help/advice. Even some subreddits catered towards graduate admissions and CV roasts. Don't ever lie on your CV, and everything on it should be justified and relevant to the position you are applying for. Someone has to judge your entire work experience, research experience, and character using your SOP and CV. Make sure they are worth reading.  

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FUTURE GOALS

At Davis, there are no fixed courses you have to take; every quarter, you are free to choose whatever you like; you have to complete area requirements to graduate. During my MS, I want to find an area of computer science that I enjoy and later go for a PhD in that area. 

MESSAGE FOR ASPIRANTS

Be decisive, and don't lie to yourself. If you want to go for higher studies then it's cool, if you want to go for a job then also it's cool. You'll always find opportunities in life, whichever path you take. Always ask the why?, "Why do I wanna go for a job?", "Why should I pursue higher education?" because sometimes it comes down to, "Am I enjoying this opportunity?". Don't lie to yourself and get stuck somewhere which you know that you will never enjoy. All the answers are already inside you, just ask the questions and let them rise. Don't keep dumping your feelings into a chaotic pit. 

 

AVINASH KUMAR, KTH ROYAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SWEDEN

Avinash Kumar, a graduate from the Department of Industrial Design, marked his way towards the prestigious KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

I'm from Industrial Design and have a specification in product design. The primary reason behind me pursuing higher education abroad is it's not so well developed in India. I wanted to test my skills in a broader platform that would give me more exposure, which was my primary reason to opt for higher studies. I needed the exposure and extra knowledge of it. I started preparing for it, thinking about it in my final year in July and applied in October. It was not exactly a final year decision but a decision that came out gradually.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

I applied to 11 universities. I majorly concentrated on a few that includes. I majorly concentrated on a few that includes KTH Royal Institute of Technology, University of Jyväskylä Finland, Loughborough University of England, and the Glasgow School of Art. I got both KTH and Loughborough University. Until February 2021, I was having my mind in Loughborough University as the other results of KTH were announced in late February, then I switched back to KTH.

The general application process is quite simple—the usual general application procedure for those seeking higher studies. You need to give a language test, and then your primary concern will be SOP, CV, and some LOR from Professor. Since I was in design, I had to give my Portfolio.

If you want to go into a specific design arena, then a portfolio is a must-have thing. In the case of Integrated Product Design, KTH, you have two tracks of study; one is the industrial design engineering track which is what I'm part of, that is more concentrated on the design and engineering part, whereas the other part is innovation management which is kind of management, business study. If you are going for the latter, a portfolio is not necessary or but recommended. Even in India, if you do UI/UX and make products like apps, which we call visual design, they need a portfolio. 

MAIN CRITERIA FOR YOUR DESIRED UNIVERSITY

It is usually the same in every university; my primary selection criteria were my Portfolio and SOP. They have listed considerations; they care about SOP, CV, and Projects. They partially care about your IELTS score and your grades. If your grades are not that great, you've to compensate them with something else. That's precisely what happened to me; my grades weren't that great, but then I compensated with my Portfolio and SOP. It's like a balance which you need to adjust accordingly to meet the criteria. If you lose out on something, then you have to compensate it with something else. 

Sweden functions quite similarly to India's admission system. They have a common portal; the portal has a listing of all the colleges of Sweden, you have a choice to make, you can give three priorities of colleges, it can range from three different courses from the same college or three different courses from three different colleges.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I started my preparation on October 1st and gave my examination on October 18th. I just took a 17day preparation period. The only challenging task or hint of cracking IELTS to do well in the exam is to study the examination pattern well. It's kind of tricky, but once you get the pattern, it's easy. I only gave IELTS, and my selection criteria are Portfolio, not exam scores. Exam scores are for engineers, and Portfolio is for designers. Even in Europe, they don't ask GRE scores for engineers. GRE is majorly asked for US/Australian University. Once you apply for IELTS, they provide you with study materials, sample papers, and few lecture videos, which was majorly sufficient for me. 

MANAGING WORK AND PREPARATION SIMULTANEOUSLY

I was a final-year student, so the major workload was academics. Apart from that, I also did Freelancing, starting from February  2020 till December. Time management is a thing; since I did everything within a month, I strongly recommend not doing that. In that month, I used to work from 8 in the morning to 10 in the night, and it was a continuous work period. I did everything, starting from preparation for IELTS to making CV, SOPs, LORs, polished Portfolio, and everything within a month. It was tough, but then I wanted to do it, and I did it. 

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING A GOOD PORTFOLIO

In my case, a Portfolio is more important than a CV; for others, CV does matter. A point to be noted is that even if a designer doesn't have a great portfolio, they can also balance it with the CV. CV here refers to research projects; for example if someone gets a research intern at IIT Guwahati or IIT BHU, that can make their CV stand out or make a balance. The only crucial thing is SOP. Other things (CG, Portfolio, cv, etc.) can make a balance. In my case, I believe my admission was possible only for the Portfolio, which did make me stand out. I did work for around five months on my Portfolio.       

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FUTURE GOALS

My field of study is Integrated product design in the Industrial Engineering branch, which means I'll be doing physical product design, anything at all ranging from a pot to designing a flight. I'll make the products, design the product, design the feasibility, and design the manufacturing process for it. My plan, for now, is to find a job over here in Scandinavian countries because I'm very impressed with Scandinavian influence and design. The reason for this is the competition and exposure here are massive. 

MESSAGE FOR ASPIRANTS

There is nothing that called impossible.  If you love something, have a passion for it, then you got to feel it. So it's all about feel and passion. If you have that, you gonna work for it, and it's definitely possible. Like I did in One Month, WHY NOT YOU?   

MIRZA KHALID BAIG, DELFT UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, NETHERLANDS

With practice and perseverance, Mirza Khalid Baig, a graduate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has paved his path into the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. We bring to you, hIs success story in his words.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

When I joined NIT Rourkela, I didn't have concrete plans about what I would do after four years. I was open to any opportunities that came knocking during these four years. With a lot of interest in automobiles and also a Formula One fanboy, I ended up joining the Formula Student team of NIT Rourkela at the end of my first year. I had a lot of interest in automobiles and wanted to work in the automobile industry at the end of four years. 

I had approached one of our professors, Dr S. Murugan asking him for a project to work on engines or biofuels or something in that arena. That particular meeting was defining moment in my engineering career because things took a turn after that. My Professor knew that I hadn't worked in any of these fields, but I want to. He suggested looking into renewable energy and see if that interests me because the world is shifting towards just sustainability, and there's a lot of future in it. I spent months reading about renewable energy: wind energy, solar energy, and all those stuff and technologies. I also collaborated with Professor on the low-cost solar dryer project; from manufacturing it to comparing its performance and efficiency with regular drying, the process was pretty fun. 

Meanwhile, I became the team manager of the formula student team. During my tenure, we decided to shift from gasoline-driven formula one to electric-driven formula one; this was also a key decision that ended up shaping my engineering career. We were one of the first among the NITs to implement the electric concept. With this, we also participated in Formula Student Electric Concept Challenge, where we did really well and bagged 5th position overall, beating more experienced teams.

By this time, I was developing a lot of interest in green mobility. While the pandemic struck, I worked on certain projects with one of my alumni working in this energy field during the summer break. At this point, I was clear about pursuing renewable energy technology, implementing energy technologies in different countries, learning about how the government and other countries' policies work in accordance with renewable energy. I knew that I wanted to work, not only to try to improve the tech but also to work on policies and regulation (the economics part.) So I was looking at programs that offered a combination of these two fields together. This is how I developed an interest in renewable energy. 

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

I had shortlisted and applied to 11 universities: 4 in the US, 3 in Canada, and 4 in Europe. I got admits from 8 of them. The notable ones were the Delft University of Technology, KTH Sweden, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Waterloo. I went with the Delft University of Technology; the reason was purely academic, which entirely relates to what I want to pursue and work for. Additionally, the course structure was more well defined, had more in-depth structure, and offered a thesis option. Also, Europe is kind of ahead of the US when it comes to electric mobility. 

I had to apply/create an account in one of the study portals of the Netherlands, which is called study link. After that, I was directed to the portal of the Udelft, where I had to upload the letter of motivation, some recommendation letters, my transcript, and other stuff; that's it. 

MAIN CRITERIA FOR YOUR DESIRED UNIVERSITY

The requirements consist of a letter of motivation which has to be strictly within 1500 words, two recommendation letters (required if you wanted to take up the scholarship), transcripts unofficial~ signed by the academic registrar would be sufficient, passport copy. These are the essential documents information, other than that your basic information.  

PREPARATION STRATEGY

I gave GRE as well as  IELTS, and for GRE, I had done some extensive preparation. It took me around two months to prepare; 80% of that time was spent making my vocabulary stronger and working on the verbal part of the GRE. I would say that when it comes to GRE, it is not the main criteria that the university considers for selection. It is not worth spending more than three months just preparing for GRE. If you have a decent score, above 320 or close to that particular range, there won't be any problem, considering that you have a good CV, projects, and educational background. For IELTS, I didn't prepare much for that particular exam because I gave the exam only a week or two after my GRE, so I was already well prepared. I just did two to three practice papers to get familiar with the paper pattern.

For GRE preparation, I had the used Manhattan 5LB book for my quantitative purpose, and for verbal, I used Magoosh Vocabulary Flashcards(app). I solved the problem through the official GRE Verbal book. For IELTS, they have the official IELTS book, and that book has 4 sample papers.

DEALING WITH ACADEMICS

I started my preparation for GRE and writing the letter of motivation and stuff around April or May. When the pandemic struck, it was around March, and then we didn't have any class and were judged solely based on our mid-semester marks. I was lucky enough to get a lot of sufficient time to prepare for GRE and some projects and internships. During the summer break, I worked with one of the alumni and worked at NTPC. I utilized my time to the fullest, and once the college reopened, I gave the test. There was hardly any academic pressure while I was preparing. While the college reponed, I was only shortlisting the universities and applying to universities that were pretty manageable. The online mode of the semester made things a little easier.

MANAGING WORK AND PREPARATION SIMULTANEOUSLY

I was working in a start-up called See Green Tech, managed by one of NITR's alumni, Mr Ashutosh. I used to work in the morning as they gave us tasks and a deadline of 3-4 days to do it. We didn't have particular working hours, and hence there was a lot of flexibility that way. Usually, in the morning, I used to do the work for the start-up, and in the evening, I had a fixed timetable where I would spend at least an hour trying to improve my vocabulary, practice problems. 

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING A GOOD CV

CV is very, very important. The letter of motivation and your curriculum are more important than your GRE scores or any other score because any admission committee goes through these two things in detail. It would be best to spend time developing your CV to impress the people who are selecting the candidates. CV cannot be made in a day. You need to work on projects, take up internships or do some online courses. You need to put things in your CV that will help you stand out from the other candidates. This is something that you have to start working on beforehand, probably a year before.  

I had taken a bunch of projects during my four years and had almost a page in my CV devoted to it~different projects under different processors. Additionally, I had extracurricular and personal projects like having a blog, working for the formula student team, and having few internships in the same area where I wanted to do my masters. With that, I've also done many courses related to this particular domain that was not in my curriculum. These are the more three most essential things. Other than that, I had extracurricular activities that said that I'm a team player, sportsman, helped others, and stuff like that, which adds a bit of cream to your cake.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FUTURE GOALS

I'm enrolled in a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Technology, which comprises quite a few tracks. I'm interested in the solar track and the electric mobility track, so I'll be doing either of the two, for which I've few months to decide. Most probably, it will be electric mobility only. After two years of graduation, I would like to work in the electric mobility industry.

MESSAGE FOR ASPIRANTS

For people who will be applying, you that you have to do a very honest self-evaluation of yourself, your accomplishments, and whatever the university you're applying to matches your self-evaluation. You have to be ambitious, but you don't have to be overly ambitious. You also don't have to be extra safe, you have to take that risk of getting into the best university you can. Evaluate your profile well and then apply to the universities, the program you think is best suited for you. Make sure you give sufficient time to think about and decide which universities you want to apply. Be optimistic and ambitious while applying to colleges, but you also need to be a little practical.

SOHAM ACHARYA, THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, CHICAGO, USA

A 2014 pass out of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Soham Acharya has successfully paved his way to The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  We bring you his success story.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Last year, my 2nd-year at Ericsson was when I decided to pursue higher education. I had this lock-in as a part of the deal of Ericsson buying my last company. After two years, I could leave the company and go somewhere if I had to. One option was staying at Ericsson and carrying on; it's a great company, but I was so used to startup’s hectic work and the adrenaline rush around it that this happy serotonin life didn't suit me. I wanted more of a faction around, which I was contemplating, going back to startups. Higher Education was just another option; I needed to learn a few more skills and pick up few more things before starting another startup again. I always wanted to work in a startup more than a corporate, so that was one of my biggest motivations for applying.

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

Initially, my wife was giving the GMAT; I had no exact plan of any college right then. I just went with her and had passed the exam and scored 700+. Applying to universities is a long process, so I was not confident that I could write and get all these documents and put them together. There were two options, one which augmented my skillsets, i.e., I have stayed in tech for quite some time and colleges that are more tech-oriented like MIT, Stanford, or the second was which will augment the things I don't know. Finance and business schools inclined towards the latter are mainly Chicago Booth School of Business, Wharton School, NCR, ISDE, INSEAD, which gives it in one year. That's one modulus of MBA where B schools give you the degree in one year rather than two years.

Chicago Booth or Wharton has a unique arrangement to get your degree in two years, but the classes will be for 14 days per month rather than an entire month. In those rest 16 days, you can pursue whatever you want, so that system looked more palatable to me than one year rushing through the course. If you're going to start up something, you have around 15-16 days to work on your idea. You will get to know a lot about business, like how to approach it as a business problem, how do you look at it, what do the questions that need to be answered, some accounting around it, some more casting, and some more process-oriented things which I didn't know and that did cost me heavily for the first time. I could learn those in a setup like this that will help me start up again. All these colleges have a very nice program of having their accelerators that do decent. They allow covering some of your coursework credits by starting and getting selected in Chicago Booth's new venture challenge. You might drop some courses and get some credits from this direction, so that looked promising to me as I have the liberty to do fewer classes.

You have to give some exams like GRE, GMAT. Then there's an application, and you have to write your Statement Of Purposewhy do you want to join this college, why not some other college. You have to write essays on why you are the right fit for the college, put across your journey, your resume, what you have learned, what you will learn, and then there will be an interview if you are shortlisted for the next round. Post that interview, you shall get your results in some time, whether you are selected or not. 

MAIN CRITERIA FOR YOUR DESIRED UNIVERSITY

The average age for the Chicago booth Executive MBA was completely against me; it's 37-38 years, and I was a bit on the younger side as I was in the age bracket of 28-29. Apart from that, in GMAT, you need to score above 700 if you are from India because the average was around 720. I had my GPA around 6, but in my career, I had achieved many things like founding my startup and others that might balance that out, so I thought why not just apply and see because that's the only way you can find out. I had put in my essay that Chicago Booth will make me more complete because these colleges are more focused or more philosophically out of technical product management. They look more into the non-tech and the business side, and that’s was what I was looking for.  

PREPARATION STRATEGY

The biggest problem for me was, I was 7-8 years out of college, and I am not used to sitting for an exam and concentrating for 3 hours. In an exam like GMAT, GRE, concentration is the major constraint; otherwise, the questions are not that difficult, especially from NITian’s reference; most people won't find it difficult as they mostly know all these. I used to read many books and novels, and as I was from ICSE school, we had a lot of English courses. I would suggest reading more and more books as you get familiar with the language, and a lot of stuff intuitively comes to you like a neural network, or you write your algorithms for grammar and approach these problems. This was my strategy for the Verbal part. I had contacted many people, mostly my batchmates like Kenny,  Rohan Patra, who was in ISDE, Pritam Nanda, who was in the US, Sourav Kar, who was in IIM Bangalore. 

From them, I got a perspective of what different schools are, how they look at things, what they try to do, and how they prepared for the tests. You might get stuck in the verbal part because of our inherent approach to English. We speak a lot of hybrid English with superlatives which are very typical of Hindi and Odia. Still, in normal sentences, we use them a lot, which is not how written English works, so getting back that groove is very important, and that can be done by learning grammar, reading a lot of books, watching a lot of movies, etc. This is the way you can pick up.

Once you register for GMAT, you get two mock tests for free, and apart from that, mostly it is this GMAT club where they post a lot of questions, and from there, you can find a lot of links and other free tests. Register for one test series; that will be most beneficial, I would say. I realised the foremost hurdle to overcome is solving the questions quickly without making careless mistakes; otherwise, most questions will be solvable. The problem is with accuracy. That's the central bottleneck that people will have to overcome while sitting in a competitive test that works in this manner, and another is the habit of getting stuck in a single question for a long time, and it will be tough for you to recover from there. Build your test strategies more than just spending a lot of time preparing.

EXECUTIVE MBA OVER CAT

I had two options, having 14 days of class and another 16 days to do something rather than having your entire month spent or getting an MBA in one year. I gave the GMAT because, in CAT, the only options are IIMs, and I wasn't looking for two years full-time MBA. The second purpose was to experience different cultures, how people think, how people approach problems, what their major issues are, etc. I have already studied a lot in Indian Schools in my career, so I thought let me try and see, at least learn, a different culture, people, their problems, which will give me a better perspective. I was thinking more of something outside India to do my higher studies.    

MANAGING WORK AND PREPARATION SIMULTANEOUSLY

Work from home helped me a lot during this time. From the start, I came from a startup background all through post my graduation, and Ericsson have a colossal amount of work-life balance and being a European Company, they stress a lot on having a good work balanced environment where people have time to look into their personal lives and all those things. I was used to overworking in a startup for 16-17 hours, so it didn't seem any extra burden for me. Working from home helped a lot because I saved a lot of time in transit and other things, which further reduced my time on office work.

For GMAT, you need 3-4 hours per day for preparation for a month, and that's more than enough. You will need to manage your stress more than difficulty, and It's not like a JEE exam where there's a lot of syllabi, many things to remember, and very tough questions; it's more on being objective and not getting anxious during the exam.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

My startup experience has helped me a lot here; my GPA was low, a significant disadvantage. My career trajectory has been a bit unique in terms of work because I just moved from a startup I started on my own, sold my company to Ericsson, so all those things helped me in my CV. I just stressed a lot on that side of work, and in terms of my job stages and other things, I am already in positions where most peaceful graduates are.

PLANNING THE FINANCES

It depends upon where you are looking. If you are looking from college, the only best way you can look at is loans; that's how you can sponsor, but if you have spent some time outside college you might have some savings, then you can look at optimising between loans, savings, and your earnings if you have something else where your tax is also involved. Hence, if you can optimise on that, then the excellent approach is partly on loan, partly on your saving, and partly on some work or consultancy or whatever if you can have some earning. So in this 14-day program, this option also stays as you have another 16 days, and you can utilise this time for earning something.

My objective has been very different, and it has been starting up again, so I wasn't purely looking at my return on investment. That was one of the biggest motivators for selecting a program like this because either I can take a break for one year or I can not take a break but slow down and spend some 14 days in class and the next 14 days doing something else that's why Booth looked suitable.

INTO YOUR NEW VARSITY AND FUTURE GOALS

Wharton and Chicago Booth are the only two colleges that have had the program for over two years, but you have half of the classes every month rather than the entire month. It made more sense to me if I wanted to start up. I can really use my learnings at B school and start my company simultaneously, at least for one year; I can slowly bootstrap, add things, concretise my plans. It's not entirely full-blown work, but at least I shall get one year to plan for it. Chicago Booth can give you a Launchpad if you have some idea. If you are working on something, you will get good access, good exposure, and many resources that the University of Chicago inherently has. These all looked promising to me.  

MESSAGE FOR ASPIRANTS

I will recommend a Master's or a Ph.D. I thought I am not that great, so maybe I can help some brilliant people and facilitate them by taking care of these finance, business, and other aspects, letting them focus on their work. When I was out, I didn't have the maturity to exactly know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. So I will say that take your time. From college, if you're going to make a decision, it's great to take a Master's decision as 4 years you have spent doing something, and you know you want to read further on that. Business is an entirely new domain, so whether you want to study business is something that many people might not be able to figure out directly from college. Still, some people are always ahead and much matured; so they can take that decision.  

Sravan Potnuru, Tuck School of Business, USA

Sravan Potnuru, a 2018 graduate from the Department of Mechanical engineering, has managed to bag a seat at Tuck School of Business, USA, and has scored 780/800 in GMAT with his continuous hard work and tenacity. Given below is an excerpt from the interview.

DECIDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

I had always planned on getting my MBA. Even when I was still in NIT Rourkela, I had always felt that I had an aptitude for business. My father was working in the financial sector and would teach me business concepts, even when I was a child. These early lessons were instrumental in imbibing a desire for higher education to the point where pursuing an MBA was taken as a given. However, the need for an MBA became increasingly urgent over the course of my professional career due to the business-facing nature of my role and my growing desire to pivot to a career in the field of management consulting. 

FIRST STEP TOWARDS THE DREAM

I knew that I would be a preferred candidate at many top-tier schools due to my unique work experience background in a cross-functional, intrapreneurial role at a Fortune 500 company and my strong GMAT score of 780/800 (99.99x percentile). The universities I applied to were Columbia, Chicago Booth, University of Pennsylvania Wharton and Dartmouth Tuck. I shortlisted these universities based on campus culture, curriculum structure, and checked if they aligned with my professional goals,

The application process is relatively uniform across most global business schools. You have to apply with your essays, test scores (GMAT/GRE), letters of recommendation, and professional resume.The admissions team will review your application and invite you to interview with either an admissions team member or a current student. Basis these interactions, the final decision will be rendered on the candidature. 

MAIN CRITERIA FOR YOUR DESIRED UNIVERSITY

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth is a top-10 global business school, the oldest graduate school of management, and one of the most selective universities in the world. With an admit class of just 280 from thousands of applicants, the key selection criteria are alignment with Tuck's values, the strength of work experience/volunteering experience, test scores and quality of recommendations/essays.

PREPARATION STRATEGY

After a few weeks of researching, my GMAT journey finally started in the last week of January 2020 and ended in the middle of March 2020, spanning just under two months(6 weeks in total).

I took a free mock from MBA.com to establish my baseline score, scoring a 740 on the same, with a high Q50 score and a lower Verbal score. I set my target as 800 and decided to start preparing. Every day at work was a constant reminder of the need to get an MBA, as enjoyable as my work was. I worked six days a week at the HQ of the Indian division of a building materials conglomerate, going to the office at 9 am and returning at 8 or 9 pm. I would rush through dinner, hit the books at 12 on the dot, and study till 2 or 3 am. I rarely missed a day of preparation, finishing the preparation season with only 3 or 4 odd days of missed preparation.

Somedays, I would be too tired, and my accuracy would start dipping, forcing me to stall my preparation after an hour or so. Sundays often had spill-over office work – not to mention housekeeping and other personal work – and I didn't study any more on Sundays than usual. After a month of this, I took another mock towards the middle of February and scored a 770, with a far improved Verbal Score. I booked the test slot for March 18th and purchased the official mocks papers. I also applied for leaves for the test day and the day before to ensure a clear, untired mind. With a clear goal of 800/800, I intensified preparation around this time, completing all the questions from the guides. 

I only used the Official Study Guides for preparation over a 6-week window. I personally believed that they are more than adequate when used in conjunction with the official mocks. 

Towards the last few days, I started taking the mocks I had bought, scoring 780, 790 and 800, with perfect Quant scores. I took the last two mocks in the same time slot as that of the GMAT appointment to minimize post-lunch lethargy-induced inaccuracy. I was still keen on the 800. I just had to make sure that I wouldn't make any single question error, not even in the Verbal section. I visited the test centre the day before to familiarize myself with the location and accessibility. On the exam day, I walked in with a composed mindset and scored a total of 780, with V47, Q50, and a perfect IR 8/8. I was satisfied with my performance until I noticed the Q50. I had been scoring well in Q51 consistently and was a tad disappointed. I was also apprehensive about my AWA performance. After a few days, I received the Official Test Report with a perfect AWA score of 6/6, bringing my GMAT Journey to an end.

FOREIGN MBA OVER CAT

I did consider CAT as my aim towards the early part of my career, where my length of work experience was too little to gain admission to a top-tier global business school. After a 99.4 percentile CAT attempt in 2020 that did not result in an admit from IIM A/B, the only two Indian schools which are in the top-50 business schools globally, I decided to switch gears and attempt to secure an admit from the world's best business schools. The diversity of backgrounds, the wealth of professional and personal experience in the class, and the global leadership opportunities available at the top global B-schools made it an easy choice to consider.

PUTTING UP SKILLS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: DEVELOPING THE CV

Self-awareness, impact quantification, proper career goals alignment are the key contributory factors towards drafting a competent resume. I had ample support from Dartmouth as well.

FUTURE GOALS

I intend to pivot myself to management consulting post-MBA. 

MESSAGE FOR ASPIRANTS

Dream big. The only limitations that matter is the ones that you set for yourself. I would never have made it to where I did if I wasn't brave to take the first step or believe that I was worthy of a world-class education. Take that leap of faith to broaden your horizons, and do it today. You are  good enough.

 

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

Designs by – Piyush Sahoo

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