One of the things that I have noticed with international students is NOT planning ahead of time. Students decide to study MS in US in the eleventh hour and say I do not have time. They start googling “ How to prepare for GRE in 15 days ? One month or Two months”. You can see the screen shot as google suggests the most commonly asked questions. Lets face it, do you think you can prepare for GRE in 15 days ? You are not trying to cram a bunch of words and vomit in the GRE. I am just giving an instance of GRE, there are so many things. Let me share some of my thoughts.
Why Should you plan 2 years before graduating from B.S or B.tech ?
Many students are not sure what they want to do until final year of Graduation, they tend to rush at everything. The chances are some succeed and some fail…there is very less margin for error. Here are the top 10 reasons to plan before 2 years.
- Passport Name issues : Many students underestimate the issues of mistakes of names in Passport. Though it seems minor, it is important to apply ahead of time. If you do at last minute and you get mistakes, you cannot even book GRE date. It just creates more pressure on you. Read Apply for Passport, Issues
- Preparing for GRE / TOEFL : GRE is not about cramming bunch of words…It is about learning the language, complex vocabulary that hones your skills, and increasing your ability to read more and grasp the gist of it. The whole point of GRE is to make sure you have the abilities for Graduate school life and career. If you start late, you have no idea what to do and you just Google, some survive…but not the optimal choice. Same is the case with TOEFL, listening skills, language, etc. You need time. The sooner you realize, the more time you have to digest the things and learn good things.
- Preparing for Statement of Purpose(SOP): Significant number of students do not spend time on writing SOP. They do not realize the importance of SOP. You need to have a goal for MS or MBA. Take time to review your goals and then write SOP. If you do not have time, you write a bad SOP or copy it, which is NOT good. Read: What is SOP ? Importance and Why NOT to Copy SOP
- Research About Grad Schools in US : This is probably the most important part. If you do decide in the last minute, the chances are you do not have time to look up schools, their programs, life at school and interact with current students and ask their opinion, funding, etc. The chances are you either go to education consultants or seek advice from someone, which may or not may be the best…So, decision early and planning will give you sufficient time for researching schools and validating others opinion.
- Funding like TA, RA, GA or Scholarships: If you decide and apply in the last minute, you do not have time to communicate with professors for funding. You may miss the Scholarship deadlines…if you can plan ahead, you know whom to contact and when to apply to reap the benefits. Read : How to Email Professors for Funding and Scholarship Deadlines
- Recommendations, Transcripts, Bank Statement : Many of the students underestimate the time it takes to get transcripts, recommendations and Bank statements. You need to plan for these things ahead of time…You cannot do these things in last minute. If it is a small University and you have full knowledge of system, you may get away, but most of the times you need time for these things.
- Re-take GRE, TOFEL- NOT good scores : Sometimes, you may not do very well during first time, you may need to re-take the test GRE and TOEFL. You cannot do this if you do it at last minute…I have seen students waste one year just because they did not had time to re-take the test. Remember, this is very critical piece of your application for admission and funding decisions. You should give some buffer time to retake test if needed.
- 8. Unforeseen Issues : All of us hope to get everything done without having any issues….but unfortunately, in real world, it does not work that way…some things are unavoidable…your application process can be impacted by many things like issues in family, your health issues…anything that is unforeseen, you need some buffer time or backup time to deal with these.
Recommendations for Planning to Study MS in US :
- Take some time, when you are two years away from graduating from B.tech or B.S, and decide what direction you want to go in your life.
- Put everything on paper: your goals, vision, what you want to do.
- Seek a Mentor : ask your seniors, friends, family, cousins, and professors for advice. Talking to someone about your thoughts is the best idea.
- Formulate a rough plan and think through it, share it with family, friends and seek their advice
The reality is, everyone will support you if you tell then what you want to do in career. It is best for you to have a good plan rather than rushing in last minute and betting on something like lottery. In upcoming days, I will an article on how to create a sample plan for studying in US for MS or MBA.
Do you think planning 2 years ahead of time is important ? Should it be 3 years ?
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