Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Post-grad at CMU, Pittsburgh for engineer from Bangalore

Master in Information System Management (MISM) is a branch of study which deals with the management of Information Systems of organisations. This is a popular course among students, since there is a rising need for individuals with precise knowledge on managing and maintaining information systems. This course would include topics like information systems modelling, databases, computer networks, to name a few.

Many universities abroad are sought-after for being pioneers in offering this course and it is certainly one of the few most opted choices of Indian students when they choose to go for Masters abroad. We had a chat with one such student, Ragav Ramakrishna from Bangalore, who plans to pursue the MISM course in Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Let us look at what he had to say.

a. Tell us something about your current university and why you choose to attend it?
 Carnegie Mellon University, situated in Pittsburgh, is a world-renowned university and has been a pioneer in the research field for long. The university profile as a whole, is top notch and it consistently hits the top 10 in most of the ranking charts, which clearly insinuates that it is one of the very best. There were many factors which prompted me to choose CMU over other universities like NYU, UPenn, VTech, Univ of Washington Seattle. The choice of subjects they provide, the reputation that comes along with CMU, the freedom they offer to their students and their inter-disciplinary activities, combined with hectic course work would give me an opportunity to learn both my major subjects and others that are of interest to me. There are also many esteemed professors conducting research on a wide spectrum of topics and there is little doubt that the faculty profile is the very best.

b. How was your overall experience during the admission process from India to US?
I was extremely nervous at first. The process seemed radically different from that in India. Ms Binita Parekh, head of Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting, explained the entire process in a very detailed manner, and I was convinced that with her guidance, the admission process would be very smooth. She gave me profound instructions which were instrumental in helping me apply to a large number of universities and secure admissions in prestigious ones. The visa process also went on very well, by following her meticulous planning and guidance.

c. Give us a brief idea about your background.
I am 21 year old Computer Science and Engineering graduate from Bangalore. I pursued my engineering from CMR Institute of Technology, Bangalore, affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University. I secured 82% in my engineering and also held a few leadership roles in college and I also have two publications under my belt.

d. What course/programme are you currently pursuing and what motivated you to get into it?
At CMU, I will be pursuing Master Of Information Systems Management course popularly abbreviated as MIS or MISM. I want to specialize in ‘IT strategy and Management' within the MISM umbrella. The data burst that is happening today is exponential and data is becoming an integral part of our life. A lot of promising and emerging fields of computer science have their roots embedded in data. So, I think information systems will open up a gazillion opportunities for me to work and explore.

e. What are your future plans after the programme?

 Post MS, I would like to kick-start my career, preferably as a Consultant or Strategic Associate. Later on, I aspire to head a company which can help develop and support entrepreneurs who want to make a larger impact in the society. I feel that by supporting them I would have indirectly made an impact in the society. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CMR Bangalore's graduate heads to UPenn for Biotechnology

The number of Indian students who opt for higher studies in the US, increase with every passing year. There are a wide array of courses and facilities in most of the universities in the US, which makes it an attractive destination for graduate and post-graduate studies.

Careerindia had a chat with Simran Kaur, one such student, who has recently gained admission to the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. She shared a lot of things about the different specializations available for courses and what made her choose the UPenn as her university for higher studies.

Let us look at what Simran had to share.

Give us a brief idea about your background.

I'm 21 years old and I'm from Bangalore, Karnataka. I did my BE in Biotechnology from CMR Institute of Technology which is affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University. I passed my Bachelor's with an aggregate of 87% and was always the topper at college level. I have also held University ranks in all semesters.

Tell us something about your university and what is the reason for choosing it for your higher education.

University of Pennsylvania is a prestigious Ivy League university in Philadelphia. It is ranked amongst the top 20 universities in the world. The esteemed faculty includes many Nobel laureates and many faculty members, who are also currently a part of ground-breaking research in all fields. There are many reasons why I chose the University of Pennsylvania over other distinguished universities such as John Hopkins University. It has a very high ranking, along with world-class teaching faculty and research opportunities. The course structure is very flexible and students can tailor the curriculum according to their dreams and aspirations. The course offers a unique mix of both biotechnological skills and business understanding, which was just what I was looking for.

What course are you planning to pursue in University of Pennsylvania?

I'm going to be pursuing Professional Science Masters in Biotechnology. Biotechnology has always been my passion. I plan to specialize in Biopharmaceuticals.

If there were any specific motivational factors in selecting Biopharmaceuticals as your specialization, could you please share it with us?

The idea of saving people from diseases, taking inspiration from nature and our own body's immune system has always been interesting to me. University of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of subjects that appealed to me such as Vaccines and Immune Therapeutics, and Engineering Biotechnology.

What really makes this degree at University of Pennsylvania special is that it also offers students management courses that are relevant to their stream. Moreover, I have always loved taking up leadership positions. At college, I was the placement coordinator and also the class representative. These roles gave me confidence and convinced me that I would love working at a managerial position.

This course therefore offered me a perfect concoction of my two passions - Biotechnology and Management, and this is the main reason that I took up this program.

How was your overall experience during the admission process from India to US?

When I first decided to pursue my masters abroad, I was very confused and didn't know much about my options. However, Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting, headed by Ms Binita Parekh, made this ride a smooth one. Ms. Binita gave me personal attention and opened up a world of opportunities for me. Everything from choosing universities according to my profile to simplifying the visa process was explained well and broken down into simple steps.

What are your future plans after the program?

After I finish my masters, I'm planning to take up an administrative job at a pharmaceutical or immune therapeutics company. In the later future, I see myself heading a company which provides life saving drugs to people around the world at nominal rates.

We at Careerindia wish Simran a successful academic journey and a bright career ahead.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Expert guidance to interpret GRE scores

The GRE or the Graduate Record Examination is an exam conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which aims to measure the candidate's verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills, that have been developed over a long period of time. The scores of this examination are mandatory to gain admission to most graduate schools in many countries around the world, mainly in the USA.

Generally it is said that GRE scores can make or break an application. An engineering student usually begins the application process in the sixth semester while students pursuing a three-year degree programmes like B.A, B.Com, B.Sc start the process after the completion of the degree. In both cases, since there is little or nothing to be done in terms of academic scores, the GRE assumes enormous importance is the only 'flexible' component in the process.

Typically, a student would take about three months to prepare for the GRE test. However, it is recommended that the student should begin preparations for taking the test even earlier if possible and put in every effort to obtain an excellent score in their first attempt itself. Special effort should be given to the Verbal section of the GRE test as Indian students generally fail to score well in this section. If the student feels that the GRE test score is too low, he/she can retake the test. If retaking the test is not possible, then the students can apply to Universities with their first attempt scores itself.

To better understand the category of Universities that a student can target with their GRE scores and good academic background, the GRE scores are divided into three categories/range:

a. 320 - 340: This score falls in the high range and on obtaining such a score, a student automatically has the option of applying to top universities. A student scoring 320 or above will most certainly have an excellent academic track record and this will allow him/her to apply for renowned and prestigious universities worldwide.

b. 300 - 319: Most students tend to score within this range. Students obtaining such a score can apply to several top universities but would have to balance the list with applications to other universities as well. Students who score in this range have an average to above average academic performance. However, there are instances where a top ranked student with a strong academic record may not be able to crack the GRE test.

c. 299 and below: Scores in this range are considered to be on the lower side and may not be adequate for getting an admission in a university abroad. Students are therefore advised to retake the GRE test or apply to those universities where low GRE scores are accepted or those where the GRE score is not mandatory or has been waived.

All queries regarding the GRE test and application process, particularly important questions like, when to take the test, or whether to retake it if the situation demands it or on issues such as guidance with interpreting test scores and selecting the appropriate universities can be sent to 

The author, Binita Parekh, leads a team of dedicated and highly qualified counselors and staff at Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting Services which offers advice and guidance to students for successful applications to prestigious academic institutions, enabling them to achieve and bring their dreams to fruition. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Financial documents required for procuring student visa

In order to obtain a student visa, financial documents are most important. Failure to submit the necessary documents will affect your chances of getting a student visa. In this article, we will discuss about the list of specific financial documents required for procuring a student's visa and why those documents are required.

While issuing a student visa, all the foreign embassies have one common objective. This is to understand if a student can afford the cost of the education, which would include the tuition fee, cost of living, travel expenses, etc. Or would there be a possibility of the student becoming a potential immigrant? In other words, the immigration officials would want to know if the student will stay back in their country to seek employment after the completion of his/her course or will they return back to their home country? If the officials feel there is a chance that the student would stay back in their country, that student's visa is immediately rejected. The financial documents of the applicant are required so that the immigration officials can discern the student's financial status and understand whether the student's family can afford an expensive education and if they will return back to their home country after its completion. Generally, investments, assets and salary statements are indicators proving the financial capacity of student's family. In addition, the visa officer will also be interested in understanding the occupation of the sponsor/family.

Given below is a list of the most important financial documents that will help the student in the visa application process: 

1. Savings Bank Account Statement - required for the past 12 to 24 months.

2. Bank Fixed Deposits Certificates

3. Income Tax Documents for the past two financial years

4. If the sponsor owns a company/firm: Balance Sheets, Profit & Loss Accounts and Income Tax Documents for last two financial years

5. If a loan is used as the method of sponsorship; then a loan sanction letter

Other necessary documents include evidences such as:

1. Proof of investment in equity/shares, bonds and mutual funds

2. Insurance policies or premium receipts

3. Provident funds and post office savings proof

4. Certificates of investments in NSC & KVP.
The financial documents required for obtaining a visa will be different and will be specified in the immigration rules of the respective country. All applicants must go through the documents carefully when preparing to apply for a student visa.

For instance, countries such as United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, among others will require photocopies of most of the documents as per their guidelines, where as for the US Student Visa, it is safer to carry the originals of the relevant documents, including income tax documents and bank statements when appearing for the personal interview.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What are the documents required to obtain student visa?

If a person decides to go to a foreign country to visit, work or study, he/she would need a visa issued by a competent authority of the foreign country. The rules to obtain a student visa maybe different for each country, but most of them require a set of standard documents to start the proceedings to obtain a visa. 

A passport, with at least six months of validity from the date of travel, is a mandatory document. To avoid any hassles and disappointments, the student should complete the formalities of either obtaining a new passport or renewing the old one if it is about to expire. 

The following academic documents should be kept ready before applying for a visa.  

·        Mark sheets: These are the bedrock of a student's visa process. The mark sheets and other academic documents should be obtained from the respective college / university. For obtaining admission to Bachelor's programme, mark sheets and passing certificates from the 9th grade onwards are required. For an MS/MBA/Ph. D programmes, all mark sheets, transcripts and degree certificates or a provisional passing certificate from the first year of the Bachelor's degree onwards is required. If a student has appeared recently for the final examination, and if the results have not been declared yet, then the student must possess the college ID card, examination fee receipt and examination hall ticket. This is especially important for obtaining a US Visa. 

·        Test Scores reports: GRE/GMAT/SAT/TOEFL/IELTS scores and any other official test score results. 

·        The original admission letter from the university. I20 for US visa applicants. 

·        The form I20, also called the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students is a document issued by SEVP-certified schools (colleges, universities, and vocational schools) that provides supporting information on a student's visa status. This would have a student-tracking number and the code of the school to which the student has applied. SEVIS Receipt for US visa applicants. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) is a program within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement which monitors students and exchange visitors in the United States. A receipt for the fee paid for this program is mandatory as proof before being granted a visa or admission. 

·        Admission and rejection letters of the Universities to which the student had applied. 

·        Financial aid or scholarship letters, if any. 

·        If the student is employed, then all documents related to the pertinent employment are required. 

Each student has to do a thorough research to be aware of the documents needed at the time of applying for a visa. These documents should be kept ready before beginning the process, to avoid any hassles, delays and disappointments. The author, Binita Parekh, leads a team of dedicated and highly qualified counselors and staff at Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting Services which offers advice and guidance to students for successful applications to prestigious academic institutions, enabling them to achieve and bring their dreams to fruition.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Common US Student Visa questions candidates should be prepared to face

For the most, if not all applicants for non-immigrant visas are generally viewed as intending immigrants, until they can really convince the immigration officer that they are not. For the US Student Visa (F1 visa), no matter how careful students could be in knowing certain visa processing procedures, they should definitely prepare for some of the frequently asked questions. With 15 years of research and experience, experts at Beyond Boundaries have prepared this list of questions for students who face visa process every year.

It is believed that most students are definitely asked either or all of the following questions:
1. Why do you want to study in the US?
2. Why do you want to pursue an MS/MBA/PhD program?
3. Why have you chosen XYZ university?
4. What is your GRE and TOEFL score?
5. What is your academic background?
6. Who will sponsor your education?
7. What is your sponsor's occupation?
8. What financial arrangement has been made to pay for your education?
9. What are your plans after completing this degree?

The above 9 questions are almost sure shot, however, students can be asked about the climatic conditions, trivia about the university such as the university's famous sport, lucky mascot, etc to test their knowledge about the university that they intend to study at, among other questions.

Other miscellaneous questions students should be ready to face are:

How many universities did you apply to?
How many admits and rejects?
How did you short-list the universities?
What research area are you interested in?
Do you know anyone in the USA?
Have you ever traveled abroad?
What is the cost of education per year?
Which companies can you work with after finishing your education?
Have you opted for any educational loan?

For students who graduated last year and have not worked: What were you doing after completing your education?

For students with work experience: What are you doing after completing your education? Where are you working? How did you get this job? What is your role? Does your organisation know you are going to study abroad? Why do you want to leave such a lucrative job and study?

For students who have changed their major/subject area: Why have you changed your subject area? How did you get interested in the new subject area?
This year the F1 student visas are relatively easy to obtain. However, Binita Parekh from Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting recommends to be well prepared for the interview to each and every candidate.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I see a lot of students seeking advice with only one admit in hand and yet waiting for some important decisions.My small piece of advice to the students who have not received decisions from all the universities they have applied to.

If you have not heard from any universities about the admit or reject, kindly wait till the universities revert back before deciding the 'final' university. It will facilitate you in making an informed decision rather than shooting in the dark and asking everyone for a feedback without having other decisions in hand. Once you get an admit, you must go through the website, check the tuition fees, total cost, check the courses, specializations, research, on-campus job opportunities, faculty profiles, post Masters job opportunities, companies in the state and in vicinity states, contact students there to get first hand feedback. I would encourage you to prepare an excel sheet with various parameters that are important to you and compare when you get all the decisions to arrive at a suitable decision. The only exception here would be if a university expects you to confirm your seat before decisions of the other universities arrive. In this case  evaluate judiciously and confirm the university in hand and wait for the others to reply.

All the best.