March 14, 2012

Planning The Time Line For Foregin Education

Flexible curricula, diverse classrooms fend student-campuses make the US one of the favorite academic destinations for Indian students. The US undergraduate admissions policy is based on a multifaceted assessment of student capabilities—academic record extracurricular activities, leadership potential, standardized tests, letters of recommendation and application essays. 


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However together an application portfolio for admission to one of the American universities at the UG level can be daunting. But these applications can be successfully tackled with careful planning, and interested students should design a strategy centered on the time they have at hand.
If you have another year to go until your class XII board examinations, now is the time to start researching colleges based on the undergraduate experience you seek. Mull over what it is you want to study, and how much financial assistance you need. Also consider factors such as a liberal arts and sciences programmes, campus size and location, student population and diversity, and student to faculty ratio. In the final analysis, all of these details will colour and define your experience of studying abroad. Compile a preliminary shortlist of about 15 colleges, which you can later pare down to seven or eight after receiving your tests scores.

TEST SCORES

Most universities will require you to submit scores from the SAT1 or ACT2 standardized test, and the TOEFL3, which measures English language proficiency. Depending on the test requirements of your shortlisted colleges, you may also need to write subject specific SAT II tests. These tests should ideally be taken between May and October, which will allow you ample margin to retake a test if you wish to improve your score.
From August to November you will have to request letters of recommendation, get transcripts attested, work on application essays, and obtain financial statements, to name a few. The earlier you start getting acquainted with the various aspects of your applications (including the logistical), the better equipped you will be to meet your mid-December to early-January deadlines. Ultimately, an early finish will translate into a well-deserved holiday before your examinations and admission offers roll in.
You may want to drive the early start to maximum advantage—attend college fairs, connect with admissions officers, and most importantly, get familiar with the application process. You can even start an application on www.commonapp.org just to get a feel of the application process. If your family can afford it, you could go college shopping in the summer, or even attend a summer program at a US university.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS
If you are in class XII right now, then too the basic admission requirements and procedures remain unchanged. But options as to your immediate course of action vary. Check the following websites for more information (www.collegeboard.com; www.act.org; www.ets.org/toefl).

SPRING ADMISSIONS
You can apply to a few universities that have rolling admissions policies. These are institutions which accept applications all year round, subject to availability of seats. Most US universities also have a spring intake of students, though this number is substantially smaller than their corresponding fall intake.
When admitted, students start their college career in the semester starting January or February, as opposed to their classmates who began the previous September. If you wish to apply for the spring session, deadlines will be around May and June.

GAP YEAR
Another option is the gap year, which gives you a chance to take a break from formal education, and explore other avenues through which you may gain both knowledge and perspective. During their gap year, students have been known to teach, take up social service, travel, learn a new language, complete a diploma programme, intern with an organization, or take the AP tests to enhance their knowledge of a subject. Students attending college after a gap year often return to their studies rejuvenated, with a better idea of what they wish to study and why, and this focus is reflected in higher achievement levels as well.
No matter where you find yourself on the timeline, remember US undergraduate admissions are rigorous because they are holistic. This means that the time between now and when you send in your applications does matter. If spent gainfully, it will certainly boost your profile and chances of admission.

Source - TOI
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