Monthly Archives: May 2011

Ten Commandments for a Good College Essay

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Vector image of the Nobel prize medal, annotatedImage via Wikipedia

How to write a good college essay:

Writing  a college essay is hard work. In fact, it is probably one of the most difficult assignments that students will encounter in their educational career. Staring at a blank page with nothing to say or not knowing what to say is a sinking feeling. Essays require many iterations; they should be reviewed by people from different backgrounds and age groups. Getting your friend to review your essay is not a great idea! First, the Admission Officer in all likelihood is older than your friend and second, most of your friends will not want to hurt your feelings. There are extensive resources on how to write a good essay. A few are listed at the end of this article. Just as how it is important to know how to write a good essay, it is equally important to know what not to do.

Ten Commandments for Writing a Good College Essay:

  1. Thou shall not lie by passing off someone else’s work as yours. You can always ask someone to review your essay and give you ideas. But if someone else is writing your essay for you, well then, that is a bad idea.
  2. Thou shall not use words that would require the reader to use a dictionary.
  3. Thou shall not tell stories that are not true simply because they sound impressive.
  4. Thou shall adhere to the length recommended by the university. If the university requests a two page essay, writing five will not put you on top of the heap.
  5. Thou shall not list every award you won since you were in elementary school.
  6. Thou shall not elaborate on how you are 100% confident about winning the Nobel Prize.
  7. Thou shall not whine about what a tough life you have had.
  8. Thou shall be truthful about your goals and accomplishments.
  9. Thou shall not cut and paste.
  10. Thou shall not commit spelling and grammatical errors.

Below are some great resources for how to write a good college essay:

http://www.depauw.edu/admission/documents/college-essay.pdf

http://www.figarospeech.com/college-essay/

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/apply/essay-skills/

http://www.virginia.edu/undergradadmission/writingtheessay.html

 It is hard work, but if you do the work, you will be proud of yourself and you would have an important skill!

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the CEO and Founder of PlanetGPA.com

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Myths about applying for F1 visa

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Seal of the United States Department of State....Image via Wikipedia

Applying for visa is often stressful for students who plan to study abroad. You have to get a number of documents ready and the chances of being rejected is always in the back of your mind. However, the worst thing you can do is to rely on rumors and myths. Here are ten popular myths about FI visa:

Misconceptions abound about the difficulty of obtaining a visa. Let’s take a look at some of the realities.  

Myth 1: The United States sets a quota on visas to limit the number of foreign students entering the country.

Reality: There is no limit to the number of student visas issued by U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. If you are a qualified student visa applicant who has gained admission to a U.S. institution, the State Department wants you to pursue that opportunity.

Myth 2: I can improve my chances of getting a visa if I hire an education agent.

Reality: Don’t believe anyone who tells you they can help you get a visa. Do not pay money or enter into an agreement with such a person. Self-proclaimed visa “fixers” have no special access to the U.S. government.

Myth 3: A visa applicant needs to document a minimum income level.

Reality: A student visa applicant should be able to provide financial evidence that shows you, your parents, or your sponsor have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study.

Myth 4: Only the academic superstars get visas.

Reality: Visas are not reserved for the very best students, but getting a visa depends on first having gained acceptance to a college or university in the United States. When you have been academically admitted to the institution or accepted as a participant in an exchange program, the academic institution will provide you with the appropriate form required by SEVIS. You will be required to submit this form when you apply for a visa. You will need to demonstrate to the consular officer who conducts your interview that you are a serious student who is well-informed about the admitting institution. You also need to show that you have a well-developed plan of study and are knowledgeable about the subject you are studying.

Myth 5: During your visa interview, the consular officer will be waiting to hear the “right” answers.

Reality: The consular officer will want to hear your own answers and an honest description of your personal circumstances.

Myth 6: You’ll get a visa only if you are proficient in English.

Reality: If you are planning to study English in the United States, you do not need to show proficiency in the language. Command of the English language is one factor that consular officers will use in evaluating the overall competence of a student applying for a visa.  Sufficient English proficiency, however, is a pre-requisite for J1 exchange visitor visa applicants.

Myth 7: You’ll get a visa only if you have relatives in the United States.

Reality: This is not true. The interviewing consular officer may ask about relatives in the United States during the visa interview, just as he or she may ask about your family situation in your home country.

Myth 8: International students are not permitted to work while visiting the United States on a student visa.

Reality: Some job opportunities are possible, especially in on-campus work-study programs with limited hours.

Myth 9: You must have your entire future planned out to get a visa.

Reality: You need to be able to discuss a realistic study plan, but not a detailed plan for your entire career.

Myth 10: You must return to your home country immediately upon completion of your degree.

Reality: You may apply for Optional Practical Training to work for up to one year in your field in the United States to gain practical experience.

Source: www.america.gov

Dr. Uma Gupta is the Founder and CEO of PlanetGPA.com

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A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsb...Image via Wikipedia

Selecting universities is complex, time-consuming, and tiring. The mistake that most students and families make is that they treat college selection as an intellectual decision. It is. But it is also a highly emotional decision. If you apply a set of criteria, you will arrive at a long list of universities, all of which meet your criteria. But some universities inherently will have greater appeal to you. It will feel right to you. And like all decisions of the heart, you may second guess yourself and worry about your decision. This is natural. Be confident that the dust will settle. The anxiety will go away. Listen to your head and to your heart. You will never go wrong!

Dr. Uma G. Gupta, CEO and Founder, PlanetGPA.com

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Selecting universities is complex, time-consuming, and tiring. The mistake that most students and families make is that they treat college selection as an intellectual decision. It is. But it is also a highly emotional decision. If you apply a set of criteria, you will arrive at a long list of universities, all of which meet your criteria. But some universities inherently will have greater appeal to you. It will feel right to you. And like all decisions of the heart, you may second guess yourself and worry about your decision. This is natural. Be confident that the dust will settle. The anxiety will go away. You will make the right decision if you listen to your head and to your heart.

Scholarships for graduate study in US

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Many colleges and universities in the US that offer graduae programs also offer scholarships to good students. Scholarships and financial aid help students from all over the world earn a great education in the US. In order to get a scholarship, you must apply early and your application must be complete. While many students want to know if they will get a scholarship even before they apply, most universities will not guarantee a scholarship till the student applies to the university. Here is one resource that offers some information on graduate scholarships

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Why is tuition at US colleges and universities impossible to find?

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While the cost of attending college is steadily increasing, the challenge of finding what it will cost to attend on an institutional website is getting even more challenging. Why? I wish we knew, but I don't. Buried deep where it cannot be found or if found one will need an interpreter to understand the English and compute the math, finding the exact cost of attending a given institution is ridiculously difficult at most institutions. It should not be this way, but it is and it has been this way for years. It makes no sense that one of the most critical pieces of information for a parent or a student is simply not readily available on a university website. Add to this frustration that when you find this treasure of information, it is not what you think it is. There are additional fees and charges that you can never find out or that will be buried in some other part of the website and whola! when you are in line to pay your fees, you will realize that there is a deeper hole in your pocket. And so today I want to salute those institutions that don't hide the tuition six layers deep, write in clear and understandable language, provide contact details should a visitor have questions, and are committed to helping parents making sensible decisions. Thank you.

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Masters in the USA

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The Graduate School LibraryImage via Wikipedia

There are many graduate schools in the US. Students have plenty of choices in terms of what they want to study. The other good thing about US graduate programs is that some amount of funding or scholarships are usually available to good students. A great website for information about graduate programs is the Council of Graduate Schools at http://www.cgsnet.org/Default.aspx?tabid=359

Best wishes!

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the CEO and Founder of PlanetGPA

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