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Monday, 23 January 2012

Higher Education Abroad - Role of Courses and Professors in Graduate Applications

Many students overlook the critical role the specific courses and professors play in helping the universities to select Graduate candidates. This is even more important for PhD candidates, but is also true for Masters level applicants. Students are seen to mention mostly their own strengths and what they want to do at a Graduate programme. 

But actually the Graduate application process requires a lot of research into going into the details of the courses being taught under a particular programme, how these courses help the applicants shape their future goals and also, what specific expertise some of the professors have that can be helpful and interesting to the students. All this needs to be mentioned in the SOP, often in the limited space specified by the admissions department. It is the mark of a successful application to be able to articulate all this effectively in the SOP. Students should no be under the impression that a good GPA or high GRE/GMAT scores will get them in a good programme of their choice. 

Universities look for students who fit into their course structure and also they want to know how their programme fits into the career and long-term intellectual ambitions and aspirations of the applicants. It is a reciprocal intellectual engagement, not a degree to make money in future, though financial benefits in career often come along with a well-planned education. 

Research level students are especially required to show how their research experience and future research plans fit well with the research expertise of a department where they are applying. They should be able to explain in a few paragraphs how their research experience and future plans are beneficial for the research going on in the department. It's a challenge and meeting this challenge is one of the keys to a successful application.

It must be kept in mind that even if you get into a department where you don't fit, you will not be able to do well in your Graduate programme there or will not be able to use your Graduate degree to your utmost advantage. Hence, getting into a programme anyhow should not be the strategy of an aspirant for a Western University Graduate education.    

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