How to short-list your Universities?
Firstly, get the entire list of Universities that offer your subject from www.gradschools.com As pre-apps don’t cost, u could send a mail to each of these Universities telling them about your back-ground and request for an application packet to be mailed to you.
Most of them will oblige. U can then go through each individual brochure and short-list your Universities based on the rankings, areas of research, amount of aid on offer and other criteria.
– Alternatively, u can first obtain the rankings of Universities from www.usnews.com, check out the University home-pages for relevant info and send pre-app requests only to a short-listed few. This would help reduce clutter once the packets start pouring in.
– Another factor that students consider is the location of the university. Go to school in the area where you’d like to work. The more alumni in a given region, the better your chances of securing a plum position.
Also, consider the differences between urban and rural campuses. High rents in urban areas could mean heftier costs, but your studies may require proximity to major business, cultural, or research centers found mostly in or near cities. The placement scene is also generally better-off if your University is strategically placed in a major city or town. While it is a good idea to apply to places where u know somebody, it doesn’t however mean that u give up a good University just to be close to a long-lost relative.
You’ll find a fairly good number of Indians in every University and u can always make new friends, so ,don’t base your decision solely on that.
– You can also go down to your local USEFI center and go through the files of past students who made it to the various Universities in the U.S. in your subject. It will give u a precise idea of the profile of the admitted students in each University. Check out a profile that matches yours and use it to shortlist your Universities.
– Once you’ve received your GRE scores, you could do your final short listing based on how good or bad your scores are. In either case, its advisable to apply to a range of Universities. Speak to the Profs directly about any specific attribute that you’re looking for…like say if financial aid is an important criteria to u, then tell them so. Most of them let u know if their department is out of funds for the current academic year, making it easier for u to decide.
Also try and speak to a few Indian students in that University (u can get their e-mail i.d. from the University site) for the exact picture. If you’ve researched well, u can strike gold even by applying to just one or two Universities. In any case, u shouldn’t be applying to more than 5 Universities unless u are in a real desperate spot and have the money to spend ( each application will set u back by about Rs.3,000.)
Do not commit to even your top-choice school until you’ve received all offers of financial aid. You have a good chance of getting your aid increased if you have an offer in hand proving that another program is willing to give you five or seven grand a semester more.