Category Archives: Studying in the US

Is a PhD worth it?

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Is a PhD worth it? Well, simple answers are no longer popular and therefore a more detailed response is due. The detailed answer is: It depends! It depends on your attitude and aptitude to long hours of hard work, curiosity, frustration, and love for one’s discipline. A PhD in the US is definitely worth it is what most people who have earned a PhD in the US will tell you. Faculty (most) are passionate about their discipline and are great mentors. Lab facilities in the U.S. are usually top notch and research is often cutting-edge. US faculty are active in their disciplines and their reputation depends on the careers their PhD students pursue. So, all in all it is a great investment. But if you want to earn a PhD just to earn “more money” it may not be a good idea. The number one question to ask is: Do I love my major or discipline enough to dedicate my lifetime to it? If your answer is yes, you have crossed the first barrier. Here is a great website from Purdue (www.purdue.edu) that answers most questions students considering a PhD have:  http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/dec/essay.phd.html

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I haven’t taken the GRE yet – What do I do?

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Many students are confused about whether they should wait for their GRE scores before starting their admissions process.
GRE scores form an important part of the application bundle, but it is not the only deciding factor for university admissions. Universities are interested in looking at the overall profile of the student and not just academic scores.
If you plan to take your GRE in later stages of the application time-line, say around February or March, you can make sure that all other documents are in place for the application to be complete. Following few steps would help you speed up the application process in paucity of time.

  1. If you haven’t already taken your TOEFL, start by doing that. TOEFL is an English exam that is required by most US universities. It is a test of your knowledge of the English language. For anyone whose medium of education has been English, this should be a fairly easy exam requiring minimal preparation.
  2. Prepare a shortlist on the basis of your academic and non academic profile and use mock test score as a proxy for your GRE scores. Be realistic about your expected scores. If you expect you can increase your score from 1000 in mock tests to 1300 in the final test – you are wrong.
  3. Identify and approach your referrers for recommendation letters. It is often the case that students are not in regular contact with their referrers. It is a good idea to start interacting with them, to remind them of your strengths and contributions.
  4. Look at university requirements and start drafting the required essays for completing the application form.
  5. Obtain college transcripts for previous educational qualifications and get them attested if required. USEFI is the best source for such attestation for US university applications.

There is a lot of work that goes into making a successful application and delaying the process only because of unavailability of GRE scores is novice.
Starting the process late does not mean that you will not get admission – only the top 25-30 universities have their deadlines in December or January. If you organize your thoughts and make an action plan for your application, the confidence will reflect in your application and help you secure admission in good universities.