With their flexible curricula, diverse courses and student-friendly universities, the US continues to be the favourite education destination for Indian students who still chant: “Go East, go West, but US is the Best”. Hence we bring to you the nuances of the “Admissions Policy” and “Visa Issues” before you are ready to board the flight to the USA.
The US undergraduate admissions policy is based on a spectrum of students’ capabilities: academic record, extracurricular activities and standard procedure (Tests like TOEFL, SAT, GRE/GMAT, etc, Recommendation letters and Application essays). Thus while you are busy putting your application portfolio in place, here’s a quick review of the points you should keep in mind before you finalise the course and college in the US:
- Extensive research on the Colleges and short listing of them
- Financial Aspects
- Employment opportunities (during and post education)
- Other factors like: details of courses, campus infrastructure, student population and diversity.
- Attending college fairs, engaging with admissions officers, connecting with seniors/ peers who are pursuing education in the US.
- Check out websites like: www.commonapp.org, www.collegeboard.com, www.act.org, www.ets.org, etc to name a few.
Following factors will give you an insight to the Admissions in the US:
- Standard Tests: For undergraduate levels, you will be required to take and submit scores of SAT1 or ACT2 along with TOEFL(proficiency in English). Depending on the courses and colleges, one may need to take SAT2 tests for specific subjects. These should be taken between May-October, allowing one a time margin for a retest, if so required. Subsequently, one needs to arrange Recommendation letters, get transcripts attested, prepare application essays and arrange financial statements.
- Timeline: There are a few universities in the US that accept admissions round the year depending upon the availability of seats. The Spring intake in many US universities though much lesser than Fall intake, is still significant. Hence students enrolled in spring shall start their college in Jan/Feb semester (unlike those who began in Fall ie previous Aug/Sept).
- Taking a Gap: Some students take a gap of a year or 6 months after their XIIth or graduation. During this time, students prepare for entrance/standard exams, take up teaching, interning with an organization, researching about colleges & courses, or even attending a summer program at a US university. If spent judiciously, this gap can make you a better prepared person ito portfolio, selecting the right university and courses, financial aspects well-planned, other logistics well thought for.
- Visa Proceedings: After getting admission into a good college, the next crucial step is to get a student visa, the process for which begins in May-June for the US. Most students believe this is the toughest part of the whole process and have preconceived notions about the expectations of the Us Embassy.
Following are the things that a Visa officer will look for in a potential candidate:
- Genunity: A bona fide student who intends to complete a full-time course at a recognised university/ college and has done adequate efforts to identify the right institute and knows how it will help him in building his/ her career. In short a candidate should know the “Why”, “What” and “how” of the course/ programme which should make sense for him.
- Financial Capability: One must be able to afford the entire education and other expenses or must be able to show a viable financial plan.
- Home calling: The candidate must have a strong intent to return to his home country.
- Overall Performance: While it is true that the US universities look for genuine, high quality Indian students who have performed well both in their academics as well as the standardised tests, scores are not the only qualifying criteria. The Visa officials understand that many courses and universities call for skills other than just scores.
- Admission Letter or I-20
- Original Passport, photographs and fees
- SEVIS fee receipt
- Visa application forms duly filled
- Funding proof and Income Tax papers
- Previous Mark sheets and or Degrees
- Standardised test scores
- Any other document showing financial stability
Students shall have to first submit their papers through the visa facilitation centres. The Us Consulate is the only one that insists on a personal interview with the applicant, for which they open special days and appointment slots. Also, it is important to know that visa processing for a highly technical field at the Master’s or Doctorate level takes longer. Hence candidates should apply well in time for the same. Candidate can visit the website: www.vfsusa.co.in.
Thus, with adequate research about the course & university, managing one’s portfolio & documents, and applying for admissions and Visa in time, a cumbersome-looking process will actually turn out to be quite straightforward and should land you in your career defining setup.