On Saturday, 20th August 2016, MEET ALUMNI 2016” was conducted by #Galvanize Test Prep in association with the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago at the T.Nagar Social Club,T.Nagar, Chennai.
The heavily attended event provided a platform for students and their parents to interact with alumni from top U.S universities. Students from engineering colleges in and around Chennai, and from other parts of Tamil Nadu used this opportunity to interact with the panelists – successful professionals who had obtained their Masters Degrees from universities such as Stanford, Harvard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Penn State University, Arizona State University, Tufts University, George Washington University, University of North Texas, and more.
The panelists spoke about their experience while studying in the US and shared valuable advice for young students aspiring to study abroad. They stressed that in addition to undergraduate GPA and marksheets, one’s GRE test scores, co-curricular activities (internships, projects, paper presentations, workshops), student essay, and letters of recommendation play a vital role in being selected for admission by a US university. Among these, the GRE score is crucial because the GRE is conducted in the same manner in over 1000 test centers in more than 180 countries and thus forms the most objective and trusted metric for an American university. Moreover, since GRE scores are valid for five years, it is better to take the test in one’s 1st year or 2nd year of college, thereby utilizing the remaining years to do meaningful internships and projects in the student’s area of interest, thereby building a strong application profile.
Ms.Pavithra Srinivasan, Co-Founder & Product Director of Galvanize Test Prep and an alumni of Stanford University, stated that no other country has as many world famous universities as the US, giving students an unparalleled opportunity to interact and connect with reputed faculty, fellow students, and colleagues. She also pointed out that while most parents are rightly concerned about the cultural challenges of studying abroad, the bigger challenge faced by students is that many of them may be unprepared for graduate study in the US after being accustomed in India to 4 years of studying once in 6 months and answering questions that test one’s knowledge as opposed to one’s ability to apply knowledge. In the US university system for example, it is common to have “open book final exams” where students can bring their textbooks and notes to the exam, but would still find it impossible to answer questions without a solid understanding of the underlying concepts. Doing well in such a system requires 100% focus and attention during classes and regular homework and doubt-clearing sessions, therefore, developing a good study ethic should be the primary concern for students and parents.
Mr Sivakumar Dandapani, the Chennai Director of Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago (www.IITChicagoinIndia.com), spoke about how work experience plays an important role in getting admission in the U.S. He emphasized that US universities are strict in their criteria for admitting students and therefore students have to work on understanding what universities want and then building their profile to meet those needs. Moreover, the USA is keen to attract STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students to boost the American economy and has recently passed laws to allow STEM majors to stay back in the US and work in their field of interest for up to 3 yearswithout requiring H1-B sponsorship. This enables students to easily pay back their education loan and hence makes it more affordable for Indian students to pursue their graduate studies in the US.
Most faculty members at Galvanize Test Prep have studied and worked in the US, yet they can relate to challenges faced by Indian students and parents, having gone through the process themselves. The typical Indian student requires 3-6 months of preparation before writing the GRE exam. In particular, the Verbal ability of Indians tend to lag behind that of Americans whose native language is English, hence the Galvanize GRE course incorporates a Verbal Strengthening track specially developed for Indian Students. However, students who have already written their GRE once but want to rewrite it to improve their scores can do so with a 30-45 day Crash Course with focused effort on specific topics. For more details about Galvanize, please visit www.GalvanizeTestPrep.com