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Articles by students

Planning and preparing for GRE. Important points when applying for scholarships : By Tushar

Searching US universities, myths and facts about student life in USA : By Srikanth

Converting from F1 to H1 visa. Things I would suggest: By Harish

Planning and preparation for GRE. Important points when applying for scholarships: By Tushar

“Education is the manifestation of perfection”. Keeping this view in mind I decided to go for higher studies in US. Getting an admit from a University and that too with financial aid is every person’s dream who wants to got for higher studies in US. Unless you are financially very very sound it is not a joke to study in United States if you don’t have financial assistance from the university. So question now is what are the factors which help you in achieving this dream? Good academics during undergrad, SOP (Statement of purpose), GRE score, TOEFL score, and previous work experience are some of the important factors which will decide your chances of getting financial aid. Again the financial aid is defined differently in different universities. Some universities will just give you some stipend but most of the universities will not only give you stipend but also waive your complete tuition.

If you are exceptionally well in the above factors, and if you select the universities with proper research, getting aid should not be a problem. Some of the students who do not get aid from the very beginning, can still manage to get it if they keep their grades good during first semester of MS and keep on trying with the professors consistently.

Good score in GRE is one of the very important factors not only in getting financial aid but also admission in good universities. Anyone who wished to pursue GRE should start preparing from second or maximum third year of his undergraduation. Try to appear for GRE during your final year. In this way you need not waste a year in preparing for GRE after finishing B.E. Some of the best way to prepare for GRE is flash cards, Barons GRE, Princeton GRE and many other books. GRE is not like one subject that you can prepare in one or two months. But still you can improve your score a lot by going through some of these materials.

I will disclose some of the very important and practical tips of how to get financial aid.

Assume that you don’t have financial aid in the beginning but still you decide to take chances. The first thing you should do is do a proper research of all the expertise areas of the professor in your university. Get an idea of what research projects are going on the department and which one has got a good chunk of money allocated. Go through the IEEE and other periodicals written by those professors. Take courses under him and let him know that his research interests you a lot and ask him some smart questions about it. Let him know that you would love to work under him and also try to convince him that your work exp and your previous experience will make you the best candidate for that research.

Keep him approaching consistently but this does not mean to bug him every day. Go with some smart questions and judging a proper time again shows your interest. Its quite possible that there are very opportunities for Research assistantships or Teaching assistantships in your department. So try to approach other departments and see if they have any IT jobs or projects. You can try to get those opportunities and can become eligible for Graduate Assistantship. So it’s a good idea to learn some of the IT related stuff before you land a university. Its good if you already know Oracle, Web designing, Java, PHP because most of the time department around the universities will be using this stuff to accomplish their day to day IT related chores. So does not matter what background you belong to, learn those skills before you come to US specially when you don’t have assistantships.

Some more tips before you come to US for studies:

1)      Try to get a list of books for the subjects you think you will be taking during MS from India itself. It will save lot of money

2)      Don’t forget to bring all the IT training certificates you have.

3)      Try to get some basic Indian spices and medicines

4)      Visit Indian Student association website of the university for additional information.

5)      Do a proper research regarding the projects going on in your department.

6)      Try to get apartment near University, in that way you don’t have to wrry about car and other commutations.

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Searching US universities, myths and facts about student life in USA: By Shrikanth

Studying in United States can be a great experience in terms of the knowledge we gain, vivid experience and exposure, communication skills…etc. I would like to share my experience as a student in USA. The content below is strictly my experience, lessons I learnt from my mistakes or some information which were not passed on to me when I was in need of it the most.

Coming to USA for studies requires lot of planning, ground work, preparation, visa process all of which is explained below:

Planning: The ideal time to start planning for masters in USA would be from third (first sem of second year) semester of BE/B.Tech, as a start try to get in touch with your relatives who studied/studying abroad and gather as much information as you can about USA, studies, universities. Internet now is a rich source of information. Browse some websites like '' which has a list of all universities and university websites, visit their homepages and checkout their education system, requirements and see which universities suit you. You might want to consider cost of living, school standards, financial aid, and your relatives around the city where school is located as primary factors when deciding on a school.

Preparation: Preparing for GRE/GMAT/TOEFL should be started very soon after you begin planning, trust me, out of my experience…it is not possible to make good scores by cramming bunch of books before the exams, you will require lot of dedication, try to do things like watching English movies, sports channels, commentaries, reading newspapers…etc. Not everyone can have good vocabulary but everyone can try and speak good English in simple plain terms. If you cannot make good scores in vocabulary in GRE, do not be disheartened you can prove your skills by making good score in TOEFL which is a test of plain simple English. Join a good institution which gives training, the advantages being, some quality coaching and most importantly…you meet new people who always know something we do not from whom we learn new things about universities about GRE/TOEFL and what not? Ideal time to take GRE test would be late 6th (3-2) semester or early 7th (4-1) semester. As part of preparation keep making a list of universities for various score ranges and short list them, like (1000-1100 score x,y,z universities, 1100-1200 score a,b,c universities).

Please do not delay in executing these steps which might cost you a lot of time. Take some mock exams and keep track of the scores you are making and finalize the list of four schools that you want to send scores which you had planned during preparation and after taking mock exams.

Visa Process: After applying to schools and getting I-20’s join a reputed consultancy that will take care of all the paper work and set you up for visa interview.

During the visa interview, please do not give prepared answers for (why USA, why xyz university, why CS/electrical) – respond to the question naturally whatever is in your mind (let it not be crazy answers like, to make money, it is fun, for nightlife…etc), do not be tensed and project yourself as if you are desperate to get here.

Note: Prepared answers and desperation in your face will lead to denial of a US visa.


  1. Having arrears/backlogs in Bachelors will not affect coming to USA.

  2. Life is easy in USA; it is easy to make money.

  3. Join a consultancy which helps you choose schools and get I-20.


  1. Having arrears/backlogs can not only affect your admission, financial aid but your US visa is also at stake.

  2. Life is not so easy for a masters student in USA, you will have to live life the hard way, save every penny you earn, do all your work yourself...this makes us a better human being and we learn how to enjoy by knowing what hard work is.

  3. Consultancies which guarantee you admissions in schools are total rip off, they get you admissions to schools which do not have funding, which grant admission to anybody who applies.

After arriving in USA, try to find an on-campus job which makes your life easier, try to avoid off-campus work, take drivers license even though you do not have a car. Speak to seniors and make the most out of it because every university is unique in its own way in terms of the course availability, course difficulty and seniors are the best people to help us choose what is good for us.

Message for people who want an easy way to earn their masters degree:

This section is for people who want an easy way to earn masters degree, and whose motive is to get out of school and make money.

Masters in USA will be awarded to a candidate upon meeting certain requirements, which varies for every university. Some schools require 36 credit hours for graduation. Every course you take is awarded 3 credit hours (1 course =3 credit hours) which mean 12 courses will award masters degree. Some schools offer 33 credit hours for graduation, some offer 30, there are schools that offer 21 credit hours which you would want to look for (University of Illinois at Springfield). Some schools offer 30 credit hours with no project work, which will help you, graduate soon and enter the job market to make money.

For better understanding, generally a 36 credit hour program consists of 11courses + 1 project work = 33 credit hours + 3 credit hours.

I would like to conclude saying life in USA is very exciting and fun. It is a land of opportunities and the bottom-line is “Your development will directly lead to development of your family back in India.”

Please feel free to e-mail your questions at, we will be more than happy to assist/advise you.

Thank you,

Srikanth Akuthota

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Converting from F1 to H1 visa. Things I would suggest

By Harish

**The following information provided is based on purely personal views and experiences at Toronto Consulate. I would recommend you to go through the Brochure before filling any forms; I may have missed some important information to include in this document.

Day before the interview:

Make sure u have yr DS-156,157,158 Filled and a photograph with the specified   dimensions (2x2inches) glued to the DS-156.

There are many Scotia Bank branches in Toronto, so look for the one nearest to u in the net so that u can go there early in the morning. Make sure the opening time of the branch is not late.

Don’t drink a lot night before!!

Have these docs ready with you-

1. Letter from the employer.

2. Initial Offer letter from the employer.

3. Recent pay stubs.

4. W2 forms (If u have that’s good)

5. Bank statements (where it shows the direct deposits).

6. I-797

7. Yr H1 Documentation.

8. All yr Original Certificates.

9. Passport

On the day of the appointment:

Go to the SCOTIA BANK and deposit $100.

ØOn your appointment sheet u will have a TIME given. But at the consulate they follow a first-come-first-serve procedure. For Ex: If yr appointment is at 10:00am and if u stand in line at 9am its perfectly fine they will let u in. So its recommendable to reach the consulate as early as possible, or else u will end up waiting in the line for long time.

ØYou have to deposit $100(as of MARCH 2006) at SCOTIA BANK only in Toronto, and need to retain the 3 receipts with you, of which u would submit 1 receipt at the consulate.

ØCellular phones are not allowed inside the Consulate, LEAVE YR CELLPHONES AT THE HOTEL, or else you will end up going back to the hotel!!, that’s what happened to us, fortunately our hotel was at a walk-able distance.

Procedure at the Consulate:-

ØTypically u would stand in a line outside the consulate, at the BACK SIDE of the consulate. There would be screening and no electronic devices are allowed, so no laptops etc. I forgot to take the mouse frm my laptop bag and the beeper went off, and they created quite a scene for that!!

ØAfter entering you would go to a counter where u will submit yr PASSPORT,

DS 156,157,158, I-797 forms and the bank receipt. You would be told to wait.

ØThen you would be called at a counter probably after 1hr or so, yr finger prints would be taken, and then told to wait again.

ØThen after some time 30min-1hr yr name will be called and that would be  the interview with the counselor. He may ask abt yr company, yr position, yr pay stubs etc.

ØAfter that he will tell u to pay $50 visa issuance fee, which can be paid by Credit card or cash. You will be told to come next day between 3-4pm to collect yr Passport.

ØYou will get a token which u need to produce the next day to collect yr passport.

ØTake yr passport, check whether the details are correct and yr all set!!

ØStart early for return journey to the airport, coz there would be long line at customs declaration, and u would have to fill the I-94 too before boarding the flight.


ØStay in a hotel near to the consulate.

ØTake a book to read to the consulate if ur going alone, there would be nothing to do during wait.

ØTalk to other people like me who already went for a visa interview to get some new thoughts.


ØParking is pretty expensive in the downtown, 25$-40$ per day.

ØRenting a car at the Toronto Airport is pretty expensive. (my personal view)

ØCabs looked pretty reasonable.

ØUS dollar is accepted everywhere (probably u guys know that).


If u have a new experience, add info & update this doc after your interview, and pass it on.

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Last changed: 03/14/2007, 00:24:04