Okay, I did not get a 330+ score, neither do I have an admit from any university, nor do I have a stupendous academic record, I just want to share my experience with you guys if you are planning to apply for a MS degree after your 4th year.
First of all, are you really serious about this? MS seems cool to talk about, but it certainly isn’t easy when you get into it. It is a hell of a process, a journey that is exhausting, confusing, and irritating. Sure, the rewards will be cool, but the process will make you feel like giving it up many times. It is arduous, I repeat, yet again, so be prepared mentally about this.
I have gone through this and I do not want you all to be making the same mistake as I did. I want to share my experience with you guys, so you are in a slightly better position. No one was there to help me through this process, except for a few consultancy agencies, which I really wasn’t keen on! So, this is a guide, if you take it that way, to help you out, especially the people moving onto the 6th semester.
1) First things first, be clear about it.
This is one thing that is the most important and integral to your application process. decide beforehand, whether or not you are going for that Master’s degree. Be very very clear about it. Once you have made this decision, stick to it. Many times during the application process you will feel the urge to just give it up. To just go with the MBA or campus placement. DO NOT DO THAT.
2) The course.
Yet another thing to be clear of. You might have figured out by now your area of interest. If not, it is still not late. Master’s degree, if you are unaware of it, is a specialisation. An area where you want to focus within your field. You still have time to figure out that, given you are in 6th semester. Once you are sure on your area of interest, try and get your minor project, training and possibly your major project on that area so you have that to mention on your SOP.
3) The universities.
This, urrgghh, is the most difficult part in my opinion; SELECTING THE UNIVERSITIES. There are tons of ranking systems available, tons of review sites available and enough matter that will confuse you endlessly. A never ending puzzle, this is one thing you have to get on with right from the moment you have completed step number 1 and 2.
There are basically 2-3 rankings available on the net, often with contrasting data. Times Higher Education Rankings (THE), QS World Universities Rankings, the ARWU rankings, and of course, US NEWS and RANKINGS are some of these. My advice to you all would be to ignore these rankings. They do almost no good except to confuse you. There are differences in these ranking systems which I’ll tell you now.
THE rankings are made by Times, no one gives a damn about their rankings now, or at least I don’t! QS rankings are majorly based on peer review. This means that it takes into account what other people from academia and industry think about the university. So, if you are looking out for a job after your MS, these are probably good enough rankings to follow. ARWU rankings or the Academic Ranking of World Universities are compiled by Shanghai based university and is primarily based on the number of publications, research, citations etc. In layman’s terms, look into these rankings if you are interested in research.
QS generally tends to favor UK based universities which is evident by the number of UK universities in their list as compared to others. SO, thats that.
US NEWS is basically a local US based. This ranking is particularly useful if you are looking for a masters program from the US. US NEWS takes into account everything, from citations to research to peer review to reputation. It is quiet comprehensive in other words. Having said that, please refrain yourself from buying their $25 package or whatever its cost is, serves no purpose at all.
If you are looking for MS from a country other than US, it is probably better to not look into university rankings at all. I mean, dont completely ignore them, but then, dont be stringent about these at the same time.
I had a rather very very different approach to select my universities (which later turned out to be an absolute waste of time). I advice you all to not do it this way. What I did was, I looked at the university by its YOUTUBE channel. Yeah, that lame! I, with my fellow masters hopefuls, were busy searching terms like “XYZ University party”, “ABC university life” and others similar search terms. DO NOT DO THIS. We used to do this when we were in our 5th semester, so there was a room for a little slack.
What I recommend to you all is, after taking an initial view from different rankings and reviews, go to each university’s site and do the individual search for your course structure and other relevant information. All my third year, all I did was rake through different universities websites, the unknowns (Hanze,Groninghen, Utrecht, Mastricht etc) , the lesser knowns (TU Delft, TU Munich, Leeds, Denmark Technical etc), the good ones, bad ones. I have personally searched all of them for a relevant course structure. It helps. IT HELPS A LOT.
When it was down to final decision on universities, I knew which universities were offering good courses, what was their ranking, student life, fees, admission criterias etc. You have an entire semester to you for this, don’t loosen, start searching for your universities now.
Maintain that. Whosoever told you 65% was good enough, find that person and punch him/her hard. It is not, I know how major deterrent it is since I am a 65 percenter. Maintain that percentage above 70%. It is not hard, there is still some time. Try and avoid a back (I have that too!) It’s hard to explain that on your SOP, I have no excuse for it, dont be caught up in that situation. DONT EVER BE IN THE DELUSION “Third year me back nahi aati” Jab aati hai na, toh fatt ke 4 ho jaati hai! So avoid that. Having said that, it is not the end of the world if you get one. It’s okay to fail.
The Graduate Record Exam. Test of your english and 10th standard mathematics. There’s not much I can tell you that you already dont know about. You can look up on the ETS website for any information on GRE. Not the most important, but yes, it holds significant value on your profile. There are different ways to prepare for it. I’ll be taking that up next time. I’ll be continuing with many different aspects of this hectic process. So keep tabs if you want!