What is the application process of US universities?

What is the application process of US universities?
Country Selection Schools and Universities

What is the application process of US universities?


Getting into a university for higher education is no longer a facile job. Cut throat competition has made it a prerequisite to distinguish oneself from the next applicant and validate the same.

Universities are becoming extremely meticulous about the admission granting norms and procedures as the students are going to be the torch bearers of the university. To truly decipher whether a candidate is veracious about his qualifications and capabilities, the admission committee has inculcated several preconditions in the application process. Earlier, the application process simply required students to provide transcripts, certificates and admission fees, which would suffice for securing admission at the university, but now with the changing times, the application process has evolved, only to become more labyrinthine. Today students need to submit and prepare an array of requirements like- resume, SOP, LOR, Skype interviews, case studies, group discussions, multiple mini interviews, and video essays. Students also need to be mindful of their tweets and social media profiles.

  1. Resume

A resume is a short, succinct summary of the student’s past achievements. It is akin to a personal marketing brochure with a goal of gaining the admission committee’s attention. The resume is often the first document that the admission committee would look at, so it serves as a first impression. The admission committee is interested to know about the student’s ability to excel in the academic environment. A resume must contain information about the marks, college, degree pursued, about projects, extracurricular activities, and any work experience gained by an internship or a job. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Every university instructs the aspiring candidates to write a statement of purpose. It is a statement or essay about the student’s main purpose of applying for admission to that particular university. The universities typically give all the guidelines for the SOP like, your goals, how are you going to achieve them, why do you want to achieve your goal, the word limits etc. Universities take SOPs very seriously. It is of paramount importance to write a good SOP that interweaves your goals, achievements, your roadmap to achieve these goals and what do you really want to accomplish in life. SOPs give the admission committee an opportunity to judge the student’s goals and ensure that they resonate with their institute’s ethics, capabilities and standards and how they can help to ensure that the student’s goals are met. It gives the admission committee a perspective of the student’s life, career, aspirations, aptitude, ethics and vision for life. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Letter of Recommendation (LOR)

Universities do not just rely on grades, test scores and resumes to determine a student’s credentials. What has even more weightage is the word of someone experienced like a professor, former employer, manager or supervisor who can judge their potential and supplement the student’s academic claims or responsibilities shouldered at work place. Universities always want to know a third person’s perspective and what they opine about the student’s work ethics, experience, personality, intelligence and capabilities. A graduate school will request the student to send 3 LORs. Ideally 2 should be academic LORs (from the professors) and 1 should be a professional LOR (from the employer or manager). Getting a LOR is of utmost importance because it will speak volumes about the student’s academic potential, character and reputation as a student. The LORs must be attached along with the graduate school applications and have the power to make or mar a student’s chance of gaining an admission to graduate school.

  1. Interviews

After submitting your applications, some universities may wish to conduct an interview. An interview is more like a structured conversation where interviewers ask questions to the applicant revolving around the student’s school, college, teachers, favorite subjects, projects, future career plans, extracurricular activities that the student excels in etc. An interview will give the admission panel a chance to get an insight about the student’s thought process, value system, confidence and personality. Face to face interviews are conducted for the local applicants but for the overseas applicants there are Skype interviews which are mandatory where the international student is interviewed by a panel. Skype interviews are a practical and an economical method to gauge the student’s credibility. They enable the admission committee to know more about the applicant. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Group Discussions (GDs)

GDs have become an integral part of the selection process for admission into many schools. GDs are held to gauge the student’s understanding of a particular subject, ability to think critically, solving problems, taking decisions, confidence about public speaking and listening skills. By holding GDs, an interviewer gets an understanding of the candidate’s interpersonal skills, attitude and capability to work in a team. The skills that are usually assessed in a GD are-

  1. Leadership skills
  2. Interpersonal skills
  3. Team building skills
  4. Divergent thinking
  5. Communication skills
  6. Presentation skills
  7. Aural skills
  8. Analytical/logical skills
  9. Tolerance to ambiguity
  10. Presentation skills

During the GD, the panel essentially evaluates the student’s potential to be a leader and ability to work in a team. All institutes look out for candidates who will inspire to lead and succeed. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Case studies

A case study is an account of any activity, event or problem which involves a detailed examination of a subject (the case). They may be real or hypothetical and include complexities. Admission committees gauge the student’s analytical and problem solving skills and require them to apply their thinking and reasoning skills to draw appropriate conclusions. Case studies are not necessarily intended to test the student’s knowledge of business terms or current events, and may not have a single correct answer. The solution given by the student needs to be workable and must be a mix of practicality and creativity. Case studies may be oral or written. The admission committee expects the candidate to identify the issue, break it into workable components and then identify one or more solutions. They may ask follow up questions to gain a better understanding of the student’s thought process. In a written case study, the only difference is that there is some written detail about a case which will be in context with the elected course and the candidate is allowed a few minutes to read the information and prepare answers to the questions. After this, the interviewer commences with the discussion. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI)

The MMI is an interview style that is used by a few universities as a part of their admission process. An MMI is a series of short, structured interviews which is used to assess non- cognitive qualities like- cultural sensitivity, maturity, team work, communication skills, reliability and empathy. Situational questions revolve around-

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Ethical decision making
  3. Social issues and communication skills

MMI is not intended to test specific knowledge in the field. There are no right or wrong answers to questions asked in an MMI. It is a method which helps the admission committee to evaluate the candidate’s ability to think individually and their thought process. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Video Essay

Some universities like Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College ask for video essays. They are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. Candidates are expected to prepare a one minute video that lets the admission committee know who the candidate is, what does the candidate want to achieve through his graduate study, what are the candidate’s forte etc. This video must be uploaded to an easily accessible website for e.g.:- YouTube. Students must provide the URL and any required access codes to the admission committee. Video essays provide applicants with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to the college community in an interactive manner. Student culture is very important and these video essays serve as additional information to the application. Though it is the last thing received when going through an application, video essay gives the admission committee a sense of the student’s personality and allows them to get to know the student in a more personal manner than they can while going through essays. The questions asked are very generic and have no right or wrong answer as it is not a test but a way to get additional information about the applicant and to get to know them in a more personal way. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

  1. Tweets and Social media

An increasing awareness about social media and its profound impact on today’s generation has made it a part of the application process. What a student tweets can actually increase or reduce their chances of being selected by a university. Shocked? Well, don’t be, because according to Kaplan’s 2013 survey- 29% of admission officers surveyed had used Google to search for an applicant, 31% visited an applicant’s Facebook page or any other social media profile. Of those, 30% reported finding something online that negatively impacted a student’s admission chances. This is done to know more about the applicant. There is no need to fret at this approach of the admission committee. Admission officers look up student’s tweets and social media profile only to learn more about the student. Therefore, students must use social media to highlight positive things about themselves and reinforce the activities and interests that they have written about in their application. Students must post videos of dramas, concerts, elocutions or piano recitals, sports competitions, share links to their blogs, upload photos of community service events and thus transform their social media profile in such a way that it advocates their extracurricular activities and internship experiences if any. This will make the application process hassle free. Though the complex process of admissions is arduous and agonizing for the students, it is imperative because it serves as a litmus test to verify their credentials and sets apart the exemplary from the mediocre students. At Collegepond, we help students to brush up their skills at writing effective resumes, eloquent SOPs and encourage them to be creative and innovative to broaden their horizon of thinking. We help them to put their best foot forward and breeze through their admission process. So pull up your socks and work hard to cross the hurdles of the admission process and get into your dream university. Masters Graduate Application Process | USA Universities

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