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Q1. When did you realize that you wanted to go for further research in your field rather than do a job? What attracted you towards this field?
Answer: I came to NSIT with the plan of doing Masters later on, so job was never really my aim. I realized that B.Tech would allow me to explore many different fields, while Masters would actually hone these skills. According to me, Masters is essential if you really want to work on practical aspects of things.
Q2. What is the procedure of selection in
I. Carnegie Mellon University
II. Boston University
III. University of Maryland?
Answer: The procedure is same for almost all the universities in US. Every year, during Sept-Oct, online applications become available and are open till Dec-Jan. They generally ask for your GRE, TOEFL scores, undergrad transcripts (marksheets), Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation and resume, everything online. They usually take 2-3 months after the deadline to evaluate candidate’s profile and give a decision.
Q3. How did you prepare for the exams? When did you start preparing?
Answer: For GRE, I started preparing 4 months before my exam date. I joined Princeton for initial preparation (2 months). Their Verbal manuals really helped me a lot. As far as quant is concerned, it’s quite easy and we might feel that being engineers, there’s no need to prepare. Still, it’s tricky to score perfect 170 because many questions are there which require no beforehand assumptions, so people tend to make mistakes. It’s important to think like an examiner, and for that, practice is required. After finishing my manuals and online material, I practiced from Manhattan and Vocabulary from Magoosh. It would be beneficial if you give mock tests from time to time and not just towards the end. It helps in assessing performance and rectifying weak areas. I gave GRE 1 year before I had to apply. It helps in a way because the year you have to apply is quite stressful. It’s usually filled with academics, arranging LORs, making your SOP, shortlisting universities and most importantly, converging on your area of interest. TOEFL doesn’t require much preparation. It takes usually around a week to 10 days to get accustomed to their format and give 3-4 mocks.
Q4. What were the major challenges faced by you and how did you tackle them?
Answer: Trying to zero in on a field and shortlisting universities. One has to be dead specific on his/her area of specialization. Only then it’s possible to shortlist the universities accordingly. Because, each university has several departments, their research is interdisciplinary, and each department has many groups. Each of them has a dedicated website. It’s quite easy to lose track. That took up most of my time. Also, I think there needs to be a balance between the number of safe and dream universities you choose, though its entirely upto the individual to judge his/her level and make the best decision.
Q5. Did you have any difficulty in getting letters of recommendation? How did you overcome them?
Answer: No, I didn’t have much difficulty because all the Profs who taught me or under whom I had worked gave me a LOR.
Q6. How have these 4 years in NSIT helped you?
Answer: They helped me a lot. I got an opportunity to conduct research under some of the best professors. Moreover, there is ample of time in NSIT to try out different things. It just needs to be used wisely.
Q7. Would you like to share some tips with your juniors?
Answer: Starting from the 1st semester, it’s important that you try to get good percentage at least upto 6th sem. 7th semester becomes super hectic as I mentioned earlier, so you need to have a cushion of good percentage upto that point in order to concentrate on other things. Besides, work in the area you are planning to specialize is a must, as most universities would look specifically for that in SOP. If possible, try publishing 1-2 research papers. It shows your ability to conduct research in an oriented manner. Finally, be patient as universities take up their own sweet time to give out decisions and be prepared. Luck plays a big role and it’s easy to lose heart on rejects. But if one has worked hard, ultimately, he/she would go through.
Cheers and good luck!
Q8. How does it feel to be enrolled in such a prestigious university?
Answer: CMU was in my ambitious category while applying, so it certainly feels special. It offers many courses, and the research work is elaborate too. In this sense, I feel quite lucky to have got this opportunity.
A huge congrats from the team of NSITonline and all the best for your future endeavors!