Friday, December 24, 2010

How to Choose the Best University from among the Acceptances

When to expect admission results to be out can be found here. Once the admission results are out, the selected candidates would normally be notified by email. Sometimes the applicants are notified about the admission and assistantship decisions simultaneously however sometimes you may be notified of admission decision while the assistantship decision might be on hold and has not been taken yet. In such a case it could probably be a good idea to write to graduate director of your department asking about the assistantship decision.

Once you get an assistantship decision in your favor, you may proceed to next step. And that is applying for a student visa. However, you may probably want to wait for the admission and assistantship decision of other universities you have applied to. If the acceptance that you have got from is from the most favorite university of yours, then you can proceed for the student visa otherwise wait. Once you have got the admission decisions from all the relevant universities you have applied to, it’s time to choose the best university for you; by best I mean the most suitable university for you.

How to choose the best university you have got acceptances from? There could be two important criteria, inter alia, to choose the best university among the various acceptances; one, the perceived quality of the program as indicated by the faculty and your area of interest and the second, the financial status. If you haven’t already done this, go and check the profiles of the professors working in your area of interest of all the universities you are considering getting in. Some university may have a better ranking but there are not very good professors in your area of interest so it would be better to finally get admitted to one which has probably a little lower ranking but professors working in your particular area of interest are better renowned. Remember though ranking matters, ranking isn’t everything!

The second important criterion obviously is the financial aid status. Say, you have got admission into your first choice but not the assistantship then probably it’s a better decision to enroll into one that has low rank but you have secured assistantship in. For international students this is particularly a very crucial decision as for them US education might be prohibitively costly and they are not allowed to work outside campus. If you are working inside campus, your earning wouldn’t be sufficient to pay for your fees, let alone the living expenditure. Though some students work illegally outside the campus but that is very risky and if caught you might be deported back to your country and hence not advised.

Once you are decided about the university you are going to join request them to have send admission letter and I-20 form to your address if they haven’t already sent them. But before they send the I-20 form you might be asked for financial affidavit which is to be discussed in next post.

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