To assist you in learning more about GradUS and higher education in the U.S., we have assembled below the following Q&A based on questions asked by students on a frequent basis.
How will GradUS help me pick the right university?
In order to help match you with the institution that best meets your needs, it's vital we understand your interests, goals, concerns, aptitude, financial means, and academic history. So the first thing we'll do is work with you to learn about you.
Next we'll take what we've learned and search for the best potential schools for you. When choosing the most promising matches, we'll consider each institution's admission requirements, tuition, fees, programs and reputation. Finally we'll present you with a list of institutions we feel are most appropriate and that give you the best chance of not just being admitted, but graduating.
Of course, while we provide valuable information, guidance, and counseling, the final selection is up to you.
How is GradUS different than other student placement services?
The counselors at many student placement services have never studied or lived in the United States. By contrast, the directors of GradUS, though Indian by lineage, have grown up, and completed their undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States. They speak fluent English and Hindi.
More importantly, our CEO, Dr. Onkar Sharma, has walked the path you hope to follow. After earning his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and teaching for six years in India, Dr. Sharma traveled to the United States to study computer science. He earned his M.S. at Berkeley, and then his PhD at New York University. He was later awarded the prestigious positions of Fulbright Scholar and Senior Specialist.
Dr. Sharma has taught at the college level in the US for over 40 years and in India for six. He's held senior level college administrative positions, including that of Divisional Chairperson, Graduate Director, and Dean. Frankly, very few people can match Dr. Sharma's extensive experience or understanding of American universities.
But that's not all -- during the last 20 years, Dr. Sharma also started and ran the graduate student placement program exclusively for The School of Computer Science and Mathematics at Marist College (NY). He personally managed every step of the process from recruitment to enrollment: he traveled to SE Asia twice annually to recruit applicants; he reviewed and verified their credentials; and he was the sole authority on their admissions.
Dr. Sharma has experienced the challenges of traveling from India to study in the U.S. and he knows the value of doing so. He has an intimate experience with every step of the process. He understands what U.S. universities look for in international students, and what types of students will succeed.
So while we realize there are other student placement services for you to chose from, for many of them your recruitment is simply a means to an end. We founded GradUS, however, because this is our passion. Our founder has been through every aspect of this journey and when he came to the United States years ago, he had very little assistance. There wasn't a student placement service like GradUS he could rely on. But he eventually succeeded, earned his Ph.D, and it changed his life. So he now finds it extremely fulfilling to be able to help students achieve their own academic success in the United States.
How can you help me with the application process?
Our goal is to lessen your load by providing assistance and guidance at every step of the process. We'll also provide an online facility for you to complete your applications. It will allow you to upload all of your required documents, and then we will screen your application to make sure you haven't missed or forgotten anything and that your application is filled out correctly.
We suggest you start the application process at least 10 months in advance.
What happens after I apply? Am I just on my own?
Absolutely not! As a part of our role, we feel it necessary to keep the doors of communication open to our students as they adjust to living conditions in the United States. And, should you need our assistance, we're based in New York, so we will never be far away.
After you apply we will be in communication with you until you receive a decision from the institutions you've applied to. After that we'll advise you on securing bank loans and go over pre-arrival orientation.
In addition, Dr. Sharma has over 40 years of experience as an academic advisor. He can offer you knowledgeable advice on a broad range of curricular topics.
Will you also help me secure a visa?
Of course. We'll go through all of the steps of the visa process. Not only will we help you prepare the visa application, we'll help you prepare for the visa interview. This will include holding a mock-interview.
What is a community college?
Community colleges offer two-year academic programs attended after high school and are operated by local, regional, or state governments. Tuition is very reasonable and significantly lower than that of four-year institutions. However, to earn a recognized four-year degree, one must transfer to either a college or university after completing their two-year community college program.
One should also note that community colleges do not offer any type of on-campus housing or dormitory.
In the United States, how is a "college" different from a "university?"
In the U.S. there is very little substantive difference between a "college" and a "university," particularly for undergraduate studies. It's mostly just a difference of name. In the United States the real difference is between two-year and four-year institutions. Community colleges are two-year institutions. All colleges and universities, however, offer four-year undergraduate programs, which could be liberal arts, professional, or comprehensive. The majority of privately-funded, four-year colleges are liberal arts. A liberal arts college aims to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. Professional colleges prepare students for more specialized fields of study such as engineering, business administration, and education (teaching). Comprehensive colleges, as the name suggests, offer both types of programs.
In general, universities will often have more students. Colleges and universities both offer a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral academic programs. At a university, however, these programs are offered through various units within the institution called "divisions," "schools," or "colleges," such as, The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. Universities can also be privately managed or publicly supported. Each state supports a major university and this university is primarily funded and started by the state government to support students from within the state.
Nevertheless, in the US there are no hard, clear distinctions between colleges and universities. The words are frequently used interchangeably and whether a four-year institution calls itself a college or a university is often just a matter of tradition. For example, Dartmouth College is an Ivy League institution that offers the same types of undergraduate and graduate programs and degrees as other Ivy League "universities" like Yale and Harvard. Dartmouth College also has a medical school. The difference is only the use of word "college," instead of "university."
And remember, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) doesn't use the name "college" or "university," but obviously it's one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the world. It also has five "schools," such as the "Sloan School of Management," and more than 30 "departments."
Thus, when selecting an American institution, you should not make any distinction between a "college" and "university." They're just names. You should only consider the institution's ranking, programs, faculty, cost, infrastructure, student services, and geographic location.
Do colleges and universities provide housing/dormitory living?
Almost all provide dormitory housing. Nevertheless, international students often stay together in apartments rather than a college dormitory to cut costs.
Are colleges all private or are there public colleges as well?
Like universities, colleges can be either private or public (city or state supported). All state institutions (public) have a two-tier tuition structure -- a lower tuition for students living in the same state called "resident tuition," and a higher tuition for students from other states (or countries) called "non-resident tuition."
In contrast, private colleges and universities tend to charge the same rate for all students, and the rates are usually higher than those of state colleges.
What are important factors in an admission decision?
Your grades are the most important factor. Most institutions require a student's class-rank to be the equivalent of "first division," with a minimum of 60%. If your grades were awarded as a grade point average (GPA), you usually need a GPA of at least 3.00 on a scale of 4, or 7.00 on a scale of 10. Backlogs/failed courses are another important academic factor considered, the lower, the better.
The second most important factor is your score on a test of English proficiency. You can use a score from any of the three standardized tests (TOEFL, EILTS, or PTE). For most institutions you will need to score at least 80 on the TOEFL, at least 6.5 on the EILTS, and at least 55 on the PTE.
The third most important factor is your score on the standardized tests. Undergrads will need to score at least 450 on the relevant SAT test(s). Graduate level applicants will need to score at least 300 on the GRE, or at least 550 on the GMAT. Nevertheless, some schools may not require or set a lower minimum value, as these scores are not considered a good predictor of success by many institutions.
Finally, applicants are required to submit a "Statement of Purpose" (SOP), and two or three letters of recommendation. These documents are also carefully reviewed.
Should I only apply to the top universities?
The acceptance rate of the top ten U.S. universities is only 1-4%. Thus, GradUS recommends applying to a range of universities based not only on overall ranking, but their ranking in your chosen field of study.
How can an international student obtain a scholarship from an institution and what are the requirements?
Your focus should be on the same things as American students: a strong college preparatory curriculum, good college grades over time, and high scores on the required U.S. college admissions tests (the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, TOEFL/IELTS/PTE, GRE/GMAT). Each school will list its scholarship requirements on its website and in its admissions application.
Nevertheless, one issue you will face is the lack of substantial financial aid for international students. Most need-based financial aid in America is funded by the federal and state governments, and is provided to U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens. However, there are still two types of scholarships available to students like you: graduate and research assistantships.
Graduate assistantships are awarded by the relevant department and involve working under a professor and assisting with lower-level jobs, such as grading papers or handling tutorial classes. Such positions are usually only available at institutions with large class sizes where it would be difficult for a professor to manage a class of several hundred students or more without an assistant.
Research assistantships are awarded by professors whose research is funded, usually by a grant. Therefore these research positions are only available at institutions where professors are doing research. Often the best way to earn one of these assistantships is to research them at home (before you head to the U.S.), locate any departments and/or professors that might interest you, and then write to them, inquiring about available assistantships.
Here are some links to scholarship and financial resources for international students:
Education USA -http://www.educationusa.info/pages/students/finance.php
EduPass Scholarships for International Students - http://www.edupass.org/finaid/databases.phtml
International Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search - http://www.iefa.org/
InternationalScholarships.com - http://www.internationalscholarships.com/
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