As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s the summer before my senior year in college and I am just as worried as I was in the summer of my senior year in high school. You can say some things never change. As a student, there’s always something to worry about, whether it is applications, finances or academics. In short, the only thing that remains constant is the ride on the struggle bus.
In May, when the schools first got out, my plan was to study for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), start working on my graduate school applications by writing my SOP (Statement of Purpose) and start on my senior thesis/research project. Summer has gone by so quickly and guess who hasn’t been able to do any of these things!? Yup! You guessed it right. Me.
However, unlike my senior year in high school, I have a much better idea and understanding of the graduate school process. Through my own research and conversations with current graduate students, I feel much more confident going into this mess called the higher education process once again. And unlike my senior year in high school, I have begun my university and program search much earlier.
As I have learned from experience and working for International Programs Office at Dakota State University, one of the biggest and most common mistakes international students make while applying to the U.S. universities is that they start their application process much later than most Americans. This puts them in a huge disadvantage for many reasons. Universities need all the documents, especially test scores (like TOEFL/IELTs, GRE/GMAT) and transcripts in order to make their final decision regarding acceptance into the university, offering assistantships and any scholarships that the students may be eligible for. (I sound like a college counselor!!)
The point is, I am much more aware of the aspects of the application that I didn’t even think about four years ago. Having seen what goes on behind the scenes, I can sympathize with graduate offices but that really doesn’t mean my experiences guarantee me a spot in a graduate school. I am still pretty nervous about the future. I still have to go through the whole application process, I still have to invest a lot of my energy, resources and time into it. From finding the perfect program, to studying for the GRE, to taking it to balancing everything else that comes with being a senior at a university, it’s all STRESSFUL!
Now I sound like I am whining. I hope not.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for learning and knowing all of these. And I hope I can help some of you too. I also know that as soon as the summer’s over and universities start again, days and months will fly by so quickly, that there will be no time to worry about all of these. That I can hope for.
As these months go by, if you are planning to apply to graduate schools in the U.S., just be mindful of your deadlines. Every university and every program has its own deadline. Now is the best time to find out these deadlines. The easiest way to find them out is either going through your prospective university’s website or just giving them a call. It is that simple. Thank me later when you getting into your desired program.
As for me, my next step is to write my Statement of Purpose and take the GRE test and get my applications ready to be sent to my desired universities. Tune in for that in my future blogs.
Nelofar Sultan from Pakistan is a senior studying English for New Media at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota.