All you need to know about applying outside …

by oBelIX

Do not write GRE on the 19th of September. It is a cursed day. -CeG <oBelIX>

The author of this post did not get any admits at all. He may have committed fundamental errors while applying. If you do not get in it is not my fault. Please contact the great ones – Amit Goyal, Gautam Singh etc for better advice

I have been planning to write this post for a long time. However, I have never been vella enough to write it. Anyway, the title is rather misleading. All you need to know should be found out from Gautam Singh aka Fauji aka Fuzzy who lives in OBH 2. This post does not cover the crucial question Should I even do all this? Do I even want to go abroad? You got to figure that out for yourself.

There are the following things.

1. The GRE exam
2. The TOEFL exam
3. The Letters of Recommendation
4. The SOP
5. The universities itself
6. Contacting professors.

Okay, so lets get started. The GRE exam pattern I believe has changed. Anyway, IMHO the ideal time to write GRE is June-July. Thataway you will be done with it early enough. Also, you would have time to write it again. As far as I have heard, the GRe score does not really matter as much. Its the SOP and the letters that count more.

TOEFL is a waste of time. It is a very easy exam. You don’t even need to study for it. Just do ONE sample paper before the exam and go.Give your TOEFL exam ASAP. Do not delay. This is one of the mistakes I made (THanks to T. Prashant).

Letters of Recommendation are one of the key components of your application. Get them from faculty members who know you well. One could be from your honours advisor. That will be the main one. If you have not done many projects in IIIT then do a few. Its best to get letters from faculty you have worked under. If you have not worked under many, do a project either in the 6th or the 7th sem. Also, doing TA ships helps. I will NOT list out who are the best faculty to get recos from. Send me a mail, or better still send it to GS. Remember, profs may tend to be very lazy while writing / uploading your recos. Make sure you tell them enough in advance.

The SOP – is a statement of purpose, kind of like an essay that describes why you want to go to that university. Do a lot of BS in it. Highlight all your accomplishments in a way that make you seem ideal for research. If you were a TA, or a batch topper or a deptt topper mention that. Get the people in your batch with fundoo english to edit your SOP. (People like Anirudh Mani, Arun Balakrishnan, Anand V).

The most crucial point is to decide the universities itself. No matter what your guide says, or how good your academic standing in the institute is, do not apply only in the top 10 – top 20 universities. That is just pure dumbness. Sadly, IIIT is not exactly a well known institute and that we rank very low abroad. People from even DCE can manage admits into MIT, we cant. In fact the best we have done (AFAIK) is Stanford and CMU (CMU was on Prof. Raj Reddy’s reco). IMHO, unless you have an EXCEPTIONAL academic record and recos from atleast one American prof (or excellent recos from the director or the ex-dean) do not consider applying to univs in the top 10. You would just end up wasting a lot of money (money equivakent to atleast 9000 paani-pooris).

What you have to do is find professors who are working on areas of your interest. Go to the website of universities, and look at the research areas of all professors in the comp. sci deptt. If any of them have research interests similar to yours then send them a mail like:

Respected Sir,

I am so and so in my final year from IIIT. I am interested in working on [describe core area here].

Describe who you worked under.

Describe your first project in the area

Describe your BTP

Describe what projects under him you are interested in

Describe your academic achivements – like you are a batch topper, dean’s list holder and what not

Put a concluding paragraph: I would be grateful to you if you could indicate if my profile suits the needs of your current/future projects and if I have a chance to be a part of the MAS group at Stanford.

your name

Do NOT hesitate in sending a mail like this. Send it to bloody damn everyone. Very few will reply. However, if someone replies with an affirmative thing you should definately apply to that university. However, it does not necessarily mean that you would get in there. Many people have applied (me being one of them) after getting excellent replies from faculty members at univerisites and then gotten rejects.

Also, you will have to courier transcripts etc to the universities. Make sure you send them to the correct address. Get transcripts well in advance because there can be stupid delays.

There is a huge luck factor involved in going abroad.

Best of Luck re …

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