MS / Post Grad admissions in the USA
Students – Role in MS Admission Process
Applying to MS can be stressful and demanding for students. Many students feel considerable pressure to perform well on standardized tests, participate in extracurricular activities and write authentic-sounding essays while maintaining high grades in rigorous courses at under-grad level. The outcome of the admission process may affect a student’s future career trajectory considerably, so a student has to remain committed and interested to clear each milestone in the process. Entrance into top MS programs is increasingly competitive.
Students need to juggle between 5 pretty unrelated activities and synchronize them:
- Improving undergraduate academic grades
- Work on GRE test
- Participate in extracurricular activities
- Research colleges to apply to
- Work on admission essays
Parents – Role in MS Admission Process
The MS applications process can be stressful for parents of students, since it exposes “our vanities, our social ambitions and class insecurities, and most profoundly our love and hopes for our children.” An MS can cost fifty to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars (Caltech) over a two-year period.
Parents have a lot on their plates too:
- Research and master the admission process
- Arranging the required finances
- Monitor your child’s progress
- Motivate your child to perfection, but no helicopter parenting
- Synchronize the whole complicated process
Caltech Annual Expense MS student
Admission Consultants – Role in College Admission Process
Generally fee-based consultant services are hired by affluent parents who place a high premium on education and who have a strong interest in helping their child gain entrance to the “right” MS program.
One admissions dean explained that she can “sniff out when there has been some admission professional involved in the process.” It can go to extremes, particularly with hard-to-check variables such as the admission essays; according to one view, plagiarism on admissions essays has been a “serious problem,” particularly on applications to private universities and colleges. Some college counseling services are being offered online. There is the possibility that hiring a professional admissions consultant can make an application appear artificial; for example, admissions personnel may suspect professional coaching when one part of an application is polished, while other parts aren’t, such as varying quality regarding writing samples. Another risk in hiring a consultant, which can happen if parents become too involved in the process: that the term “over-packaging”, meaning that the applicant appears so smooth, so perfect, that admissions officers suspect the person is not real but a marketing creation.
Generally, when hiring a college admissions counselor, parents and students should try to understand the counselor’s philosophy, learn what services are provided and whether any help will be offered regarding advice about financial aid or scholarships. It is generally suggested that it is improper for an admissions counselor to tamper with a student’s “authentic self.” According to their view, ideal counselors have experience with college admissions, meet regularly with college admissions officers, visit campuses regularly, and belong to professional affiliations. Independent counselors can help a student select schools to apply to, counsel on test taking strategies, review scores, help with essay preparation (but not actually writing), review applications, conduct mock interviews, provide logistical planning, and collaborate with others such as athletic coaches.
College admissions staff – Role in College Admission Process
Ivy League colleges and elite universities send their admissions officers to college fairs to encourage students to apply. While the chance of admission to highly selective program is typically under 10%, increased numbers of applications helps maintain and improve colleges’ rankings.
A typical admission staff at a college includes a dean or vice president for admission or enrollment management, middle-level managers or assistant directors, admission officers, and administrative support staff. The chief enrollment management officer is sometimes the highest-paid position in the department, earning $130,000 on average in 2014, while admissions officers average only $40,000. Admissions officers tend to be in the 30-to-40 age demographic. They are chosen for their experience in admissions, aptitude for statistics and data analysis, experience in administration and marketing and public relations. They serve dual roles as counselors and recruiters, and they don’t like to think of themselves as marketers, according to one view. They are evaluated on how well they “represent their college, manage their office, recruit staff members, and work with other administrators.” There are basically two types of officers: a first group of personable, sharp, people-oriented go-getter types who were often recent college grads; a second group was somewhat out-of-touch “lifers” who often did not graduate from a highly selective college. Officers are generally paid an annual salary, although there have been reports of some recruiters paid on the basis of how many students they bring to a college, such as recruiters/consultants working abroad to recruit foreign students to U.S. universities.
Many colleges and universities work hard to market themselves, trying to attract the best students and maintain the best reputation for overall academic quality. Colleges spend an average of $700 to recruit a single applicant, and these funds go to marketing brochures and hiring admissions staff. There are efforts to make increased use of social media sites such as Facebook to promote their colleges. Marketing brochures and other promotional mailings can arrive every day in the hope of persuading high school students to apply to a college.
Colleges actually send “view books” not because they intend to admit them, but “because they want multitudes of students to apply” to improve the college’s selectivity ranking and to make sure that they have as many well-qualified applicants as possible from whom to choose the strongest class. Colleges get access to names and addresses after students give permission to them after taking the GRE exam. One report suggested that college admissions officers were highly focused on how their rejection and yield rates appeared in rankings by US News.
Information sources – Role in College Admission Process
US News compiles a directory of colleges and universities and has made a ranking of them, although there was a report that guidance counselors had major problems with their rankings. Other sources rank colleges according to various measures, sell guidebooks, and use their rankings as an entry into college admissions consulting services.
Keep in mind that not all foreign universities are good. Go through university ranking on US News, Times Higher Education or The Guardian. And always find out about the university’s credentials from its website or the educational counsellor. Sourcing information from reliable sources is crucial, as both money and life can be at stake. Also check certain reliable search engines for MS program search such as FREE GRE® Search Service, etc
Test preparation firms – Role in College Admission Process
Companies such as the ETS have offered services to help students prepare for their tests and provide other services, usually web-based, to help students compare and choose schools. Some firms work with schools to provide test preparation advisors who teach students how to take the test.
Joining a good test prep organization means that the student does not have to reinvent the wheel again. Expert teachers and its trends design the GRE prep academic program, based on the GRE exam, to give a student complete exposure of various type of questions that appear on the GRE and teach the right strategy, which after practice, can ensure that the student does not make any mistakes on the real exam. The last part of test prep programs focuses on subjecting a student to numerous simulated GRE exams to give the final polishing for the real GRE.
Joining an GRE test prep course also ensures more discipline during preparation and setting measurable milestones for an effective preparation.