Parents are the key stakeholders when a student plans to study abroad. This plan to study abroad may have been initiated by your child or by you. Once you are convinced that studying abroad at a reputed college is the right step for your child, then please follow the checklist below. Parents, who have successfully been through this experience, have contributed to the development of this checklist.
- Initiate by getting an overview of the entire college research process. This website can be a good source, though we will want you to check the other recommended sources as well. We will also like to meet you and your ward to understand your needs and provide you with more informed advice.
- Synchronize – The whole process is pretty complicated with various components, some of which require you to stick to their timelines. So insist that your son or daughter follow the timelines given. This timeline is broken down into specific things that should be done 18 months before your ward applies an MS program in the US.
- Help your son or daughter in the college research process by:
- Examining the college /university catalogs and websites.
- Going through university ranking on US News, Times Higher Education or Petersons. And always find out about the university’s credentials from its website. Sourcing information from reliable sources is crucial, as both money and life can be at stake.
- Also check certain reliable search engines for university search such as Grad Schools, FREE GRE® Search Service When you add your unique profile to the GRE® Search Service database. Graduate and business school recruiters around the world use this database to find prospective students like you. If you match their recruitment profile, you could receive information about their programs, admission requirements — even scholarships and fellowships to help pay tuition. Check rankings of universities and the reasons for a higher or lower rank.
- SEE TO IT that your son or daughter takes the necessary admission tests. READ the following topics in this website:
“How to score high on GRE;”
“Understanding Scores on GRE;”
“Schedule the GRE;”
“Ideal preparation for GRE”
“GRE Subject Tests;”
“Creating an effective Profile to ensure admission”
- OPENLY discuss your family financial situation with your child in terms of funds, which will be available to finance an MS program. Check the link “Financing MS programs” in this website.
- HELP your ward make realistic choices during the university selection process, emphasizing:
Past and present academic performance,
Rank in class,
Special abilities and talents [art, music, athletics, research, etc.], and
- READ the chapter, “Suggestions and Recommendations for Making the MS Application” in this website. SEE TO IT that your son or daughter sends for applications early. When time comes to complete the application, make sure that he or she reads all directions carefully and follows the directions to the letter. Before the application is mailed, check it for accuracy and appearance.
- INSIST that your son or daughter schedule an appointment with his or her counselor to review each application. MS applications are too important to be handled during a casual “drop in” meeting.
- If your son or daughter plans to use special credentials for admission such as art, music, writing, athletic achievement, or if he or she plans to attend a service academy, help assemble the necessary supporting data for consideration of admission [activity record, statistics, films, publications, publicity releases, letters of recommendation, et cetera].
- Read “Helping the Recommender Write a Good Letter of Recommendation” in this website.
Role of School & College Grades (X, Xll, Graduation)
Every student is uniquely different, but the experience of tenth grade through graduation grade is the common denominator among all MS applications. The good news is that this portion of the MS application process is familiar to you already. As a parent, you have guided your child through school and college since kindergarten, so you no doubt have plenty of experience helping your child make decisions about which courses, classes and activities he should sign up for. Now it’s time to approach those same types of decisions from the perspective of a university admissions officer. What are university admissions officers looking for when it comes to a student’s high school experience? They want to see a young adult with some understanding of what he’s good at, how he applies himself, what he is dedicated to, and how others perceive him. To determine these answers, they assess academics, extracurricular activities, and a student’s reputation. In this section we will share specific success strategies to help you and your child make the best choices in each of these three areas.
- Report cards matter most. Academics are the most important factor to admissions officers. Admissions officers believe that past performance is an indicator of future performance. Pay close attention to your child’s course selection and grades through every year of high school to graduation.
- Colleges like students with passion and commitment. The best applicants demonstrate unique extracurricular pursuits that involve leadership, personal growth, and genuine enjoyment and enthusiasm.
- Reputation counts. Colleges seek out the opinions of teachers and administrators when assessing a student. Having a reputation as a good school and college citizen can tip the scales in favor of your child’s application.
- GRE scores and Academics are the most important factors to admissions officers when making a final admissions decision. Despite all the tips and strategies you’re likely to hear about SOPs, essays, interviews, teacher recommendations, and other parts of the university application, GRE scores and academics are, bar none, the most important piece of a student’s profile. If admissions officers believe that an applicant cannot meet the academic challenge at a particular college, that child will not be admitted. After all, we are talking about a student at one university applying to become a student at another university. All other aspects of the application process are certainly important, but none influences the yes or no decision as much as the admissions officer’s complete academic analysis. The components of that analysis, which will be explored in detail in this section, include:
Academic Picture. What is the “at-a-glance” view of the student’s academic track record? What are the exact, “un-weighted” grades (number of As, Bs, Cs, et cetera) each year? What level of courses ( honours, advanced placement, un-mandatory courses, et cetera ) has the student taken? What curriculum choices has the student made? What is the yearly GPA (grade point average) and the combined GPA of all these years?
GRE Scores. The academic picture of your child needs a final polish with good GRE scores, as GRE scores provide a single platform to compare students coming from different academic backgrounds and schooling systems.
- Context. In looking at a student’s transcript, what courses does the particular university offer and how did this student fare within the given academic environment? Also, are there any extenuating circumstances in the student’s life to consider—such as a divorce, death of a family member, or a learning disability—that may have affected academic performance?
- Profile. When the admissions officer evaluates the above factors, what is the overall impression of the student? For instance, “This is a smart, ambitious scientist who struggles with English composition,” or “This is a girl with great fluency in foreign languages who continues to plug away in increasingly difficult math classes even though it hurts her GPA,” or “This is a boy who struggled his freshman year but really applied himself and improved his grades over time.” The profile is a more complex—and forgiving—academic representation of a student rather than the straight numbers of a GPA. The better you understand what admissions officers are looking for in your child’s academic record, the better you can help your child make decisions about what courses to take, what grades to strive for, and what trade-offs might be beneficial.
Academic Course Selection
It is essential to become familiar with the academic options at your child’s targeted university as soon as possible. Conscientious course selection is vital preparation for the MS admissions process. Using the strategies below, you should review the course catalogue with your child before each school year to help plan what classes he would like to take and how that fits into his college—and life—aspirations. It is never too early to be planning for each year’s slate of classes, so get a copy of the course catalogue as soon as possible. If your child is in penultimate, you can follow all of the guidelines below. If your child is in the final year, don’t agonize about choices your child has already made, but do your best to help maximize remaining course selections. Helping choose the best courses each semester requires an ongoing conversation with your child, one that may develop and change dramatically throughout. Your overall goal should be to have a child who is happy, challenged, and achieving the best grades possible. To help guide you, here are my answers to parents’ most frequently asked questions about course selection and, its soul mate, GPA: