Should you send supplementary materials like additional recommendation letters, portfolios, etc., to US colleges?

As the application process gathers steam, there are daily questions from students as to what they could add to make their application stand out. Please note that most Admissions Committee give greatest weight to the required documents. Hence, we recommend that you focus your energy primarily on those elements of the application that are so important. Most of you are taking your half-yearly or mid-term examinations in India. It is critical to do well in these exams as most schools use the results to indicate predicted grades as they send your reports and recommendations to colleges. US colleges would have made their final decisions on your application (except for waitlist cases) before the results of your school leaving examination are declared next summer. Hence, the predicted grades play a critical role. And for those in grades 9, 10 & 11, please focus on doing well in the final examinations. Please think very carefully before starting work on that additional recommendation or the portfolio. Will it matter?Complete the necessary parts of the application – focus your energy on ensuring that your essays help you stand out and your application is carefully crafted. And, while Stanford would that additional recommendation, getting one from your father’s best friend’s wife’s brother’s company’s CEO is NOT useful! Send additional information which is pertinent to what you wish to study, presents new and important facts, about your application and, is credible. Most importantly, work on it only after you are convinced that you have put in your best effort in the entire application and required materials to create the best application you can!   Author: Mrinalini...

One-year MBA programs versus two-year MBA programs

The traditional two-year MBA program generally comprises two academic periods of nine-months each with a summer break between them. The summer is generally spent in an internship. The one-year MBA basically is one long academic period – the duration varies from 10-months to a year. Since the introduction of the one-year MBA in Europe, it has been gaining popularity slowly but steadily across the world. Understandably, the cost is lower. Also, many students do not want to (or cannot afford to) be away from the workforce for two years. The one-year MBA offers many of the advantages of the two-year programs – a great education, networking opportunities and the considerable resources of a good business school. What is missing is the opportunity to seek an internship: this is an important decision-making factor for many students who leverage on the internship to get a full-time offer. The one-year MBA is quite the norm in Europe with the INSEAD MBA in lead. While two-year MBA programs remain popular in the US, there are a few business schools offering the 1-year option along with the traditional two-year program. Students who have the benefit of an undergraduate education in business or have built a strong foundation of skill through experience are increasing looking at one-year programs to maximize the returns on their investment of time and money. The two programs cater to different audiences. If you are an entrepreneur and wish to learn yet be able to return to your business at the earliest, clearly the one-year MBA works well for you. On the other hand, you are a non-business major who is...

What supplementary materials can undergraduate students send in with their applications?

  Apart from the application, scores from standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT, and required documents, many colleges often allow students to send materials which they believe will better reflect their potential for success in college. Apart from the often allowed visual arts and performing arts supplement, it is possible to submit alternative materials which demonstrate a high level of motivation, problem-solving ability or achievement. These could include research papers written independently or for a school project, description of science projects, the extended essay for IB students, summary of inventions, patents, designs and computer/ robotics programs, essays written for competitions, projects which indicate entrepreneurship, social commitment and leadership skills, etc. Please keep in mind that submissions must be of exceptional quality; average does not qualify! This is not a place to just add more information about you. It is an opportunity to tell the admissions committee about something which is outstanding and has not found a place in your application. Before sending your materials, do check to see if the school is open to receiving additional materials!   Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational opportunities....

How does Brexit impact Indian students who want to study abroad?

  In recent years, the rising value of the GB Pound and the tightening of UK visa rules, had diminished the popularity of UK as a viable study destination for Indian students. However, The day after the Brexit referendum, a parent asked us to add UK colleges to their son’s college list (for applying abroad)! With the GB Pound falling instantaneously, the tuition cost has fallen by 10% for Indian students and that does make it attractive to many. A lot depends on how things shape up in future. A large number of students heading to the UK are graduate students, keen on research. Brexit would probably impact research funds at universities as EU withdraws its support and this will adversely affect Indian students. Brexit may make the UK a less favoured destination for students who seek multicultural communities. On the other hand, the exit of EU students may create more positions to be filled which may go in the Indian students’ favour.   Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational...

Can international students apply to US colleges without taking the SAT or the ACT?

Yes. There are colleges and universities in the US which are test-optional or test-flexible. This should not be taken to mean that these colleges have lower admission standards. All it means is that these colleges realize the limitations of standardized exams in evaluating the potential of applicants and prefer to focus on other determinants of success such as GPA, excellence in extra-curricular activities, etc. Test-optional means that some students will have the flexibility to decide whether they want to submit ACT or SAT scores to the college along with their application. Test-flexible means that these colleges would allow the students to submit scores from SAT Subject tests, AP tests or the International Baccalaureate program, instead of SAT or ACT scores. A growing number of colleges and universities recognize that not all students excel on standardized tests. Some do not have the aptitude for the tests while others have test anxiety. Test optional colleges focus on other factors such as GPA, standing in class, exceptional talent in an area, etc., to make an informed decision. Art colleges have generally not required the applicants to take standardized exams – they focus instead on the applicant’s portfolio showcasing their talent in the discipline they wish to major in. So, if you have a good GPA and are, either terrified of taking the standardized tests or have done poorly in them, you could choose to look at test-optional schools. Some examples of test-optional colleges are American University, Wake Forest University, Bates College, Sarah Lawrence College and Bowdoin. New York University, Middlebury College and University of Rochester are test-flexible. Author: Mrinalini Batra. Mrinalini is...

Should you retake the SAT or the ACT test?

Is it worth investing the time, effort and money to do so? The question you must ask yourself is, “Would I be able to better my score?” But obvious, right? However, optimism often leads students to take the test multiple times without stopping to consider ‘why’ they would do better in the next test. If you had put in your 100% in the last test, then it is time to move on. There is no reason to believe that the next test would be easier than the one you took. If you were not serious the last time and would like to better your score, take the test only if you are convinced that you will work harder and in a more focused manner this time. Practicing for the tests is a time consuming process. And if you are just mindlessly taking tests to be able to say that you practiced so hard, stop! Use that time to do better in the school exams (the results matter in the admissions process) and in making your application the best it can be. And if you believe that the new SAT is easier to score, SAT, please go to the CollegeBoard site and use their score convertor – (https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/scores/understanding-scores/sat-score-converter) A score of 2030 from the old SAT score converts to 1430 in the new format; 2150 -> 1490! So, a jump of 120 points in the old SAT is equivalent to 60 points on the New SAT. Take the new Sat for improvement only if you are convinced that you can increase your score by 50 points or more! Else, use...