5 Common Application Mistakes you should avoid while applying to colleges in the US

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If studying in the states is your goal, here are some common application mistakes you should watch out for.

The USA has been the preferred country for higher education for many students for decades. The access to the best faculty from the world across domains, a culturally diverse student set, academic flexibility, research and training opportunities are some of the factors pushing the needle towards the Land of Liberty.

However, owing to the pandemic and the administrative decisions by the US Government in the past few years which were perceived to be immigrant unfriendly, there’s been a drop in the number of Indian students in the States. In the past year, 193,124 students went to the USA to complete their education, a 4 % drop from the previous year.

With the vaccine rollout picking speed and the change in administration, the scenario is again looking hopeful. Students are now gearing up for their applications. While this is a welcome move, it means increased competition for seats in the US colleges as many students from 2020 have deferred their plans to 2021 leading to greater competition.

 

As the number of qualified applicants increases, universities will get more selective in their candidate choices and it’s important to work on strengthening your application as much as possible, not leaving things to chance. Avoiding these common application mistakes can help save a lot of time and money.

1. Not choosing the right mix of universities

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Based on your academic credentials, financial requirements and location you would have chosen a few universities and marked them safe, ambitious or moderate depending on your chances of admission to each. 5 ambitious, 3 medium and 2 safe schools is what students usually go for while applying.  

However, given the current competitive scenario, be sure to revisit your shortlist with due research on past GRE scores, your academics, and if required, go for more safe universities to ensure some admits. 

If applying to multiple universities is proving heavy on your wallet, then make sure to complete safe and moderate ones first.

2. Writing SOP without a purpose

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Your SOP is much more than just a summary of your academics and extracurriculars. It is your passport to stand out among the crowd of applicants. Before you send it across, make sure it clearly states a compelling reason for you to be selected. 

It could be prior projects you have done in the area of study or your unique reason for applying such as the faculty members or the university’s past record in your subject. Make sure to include details of your career goals and aspirations post completion of the course. 

Help the university see how you’re uniquely qualified for the seat and the chances of your selection are bound to increase. 

3. Following the last minute strategy

The US Education system involves multiple steps and needs thorough research, planning and grit to complete each step. Starting at the last minute, will only add more stress to an already strenuous journey. 

So begin well in advance, especially if you need to do financial planning for your degree. This will give you time to pause and relook at every opportunity and lead to additional savings of both money and time. 

Alumni of the university you aspire to attend are the best source of information apart from college websites. Make sure to reach out to them for advice. Visa applications should also be vetted carefully and be sure to check the latest guidelines.

4. Choosing ROI over your interest

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Given the amount of investment required to pursue your Master’s, it is imperative that the first instinct of any applicant would be to go for the course with the highest returns. 

While it is definitely important to analyse your course based on potential job prospects, making it the sole reason for choosing and applying could cost you in the longer run as you might lose interest. 

Markets are ever changing and there is enough requirement for every field as long as you do your due diligence and work towards your goal. 

5. Not thinking about finances

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On an average a Master’s student in the USA shells out Rs 40 Lakhs for a 2 year course including tuition, living and other expenses. Based on the university, this figure could be even more than that. 

There are several scholarships available and many universities offer financial aid. Apart from scholarships your personal savings could come in handy to cover as much expense as possible before going for the student loan. If you want to check out your funding options from multiple lenders, you will find FundRight very useful.

College applications are a significant milestone in a students’ life and making the best application using all available means will help you get the education you dreamt of, cementing your future.

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