Monday, 12 December 2016

Being proactive while awaiting your MBA Round 1 results

This is a stressful time. You have submitted your application materials, completed your interviews and are now awaiting that much desired “You have been accepted” to your dream business school.  Yet at the back of your mind there is a niggling doubt that the decision might be ‘Rejected’ or ‘Waitlisted’. Your head is swirling with thoughts that maybe you could have written an essay differently, maybe your supervisor could have written a stronger letter of recommendation, or maybe you should have taken the GMAT again and got a higher score.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Applying to US colleges? Read & review before you submit!

It is almost the middle of December and many of you in grade 12 are now down to the last stretch before submitting your US college applications as the January 1 deadline looms near.
The last couple of months have been tough: juggling school, research and exams with seemingly endless application work – choosing colleges, filling forms, verifying academic requirements, writing and editing essays, coordinating reference letters and transcripts. As you finalise your applications don’t forget that the presentation of your application and attention to detail counts. 
Consider these 10 simple, yet critical finishing touches before you click ‘submit’.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Treat Oxbridge interviews like discussions

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

Oxbridge Interviews and Pooling system

There are numerous myths around the interview system at Oxbridge. Do not fret, you will not be asked to peel an orange thrown at you or anything of that sort. These interviews are only to help the university staff decipher if you will be able to thrive in the rigorous academic atmosphere at Oxbridge. They are often styled to be a mini tutorial or supervision, which you will be having several of if you are accepted at these universities. So, the interviews are just to see if you can cope with the supervision/tutorial style of teaching. No matter how brilliant you are on paper, if you cannot discuss your subject, you won’t be able to contribute to the supervisions/tutorials. Therefore, you will not get an offer. Here are a few things to keep in mind for these interviews: 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

How to crack the MBA interview

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

Recently my colleague, Vrinda Jalan, wrote some helpful pointers on using the MBA interview as an opportunity to reinforce your personal brand. Since the first round of interview invitations for global MBA programs is upon us, I thought it would be relevant to share some of her tips.

Applicants often underestimate the interview, a crucial step in the MBA admissions process. A powerful component, the interview brings to life all the written application materials and helps admissions committees – 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Crossing the big hurdle - the Oxbridge interview process

As December draws closer, perhaps your anxiety levels are skyrocketing in anticipation of your interview with Oxbridge university tutors. Being invited for an interview is a huge achievement and an amazing opportunity!  Here are a few tips to help you prepare and get the most out of your experience.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Boarding school, a great option for parents seeking a holistic education for their children

Have you ever considered sending your child to boarding school? Historically and even today, children are enrolled in boarding schools because:
  1. Local schooling options are not of high quality
  2. Families feel that the experience of boarding school builds character and makes their children more independent
  3. Because family circumstances (health, work, etc.) are such that children’s care and education is better executed in a residential schooling environment than at home
However, recently other reasons are becoming equally compelling and often mean that families are considering boarding schools abroad as well as international boarding schools within India.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Community colleges can be a good alternative for higher education abroad

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

The top names in foreign education have become familiar to all of us. Lately, however, when it comes to educaation in the US, another term is becoming well known: community college. As someone growing up in middle-class American the community colleges were far more known to me than the Ivy League. In fact 40% of bachelor’s degree students in the USA began at community college.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Don't dismiss a single-sex college

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

As more and more students become interested in liberal arts colleges abroad, many discover that some of best options in the US are single-sex colleges for women only. Often the mere suggestion of such a learning environment evokes a strong “no” response from parents and students alike. “The real world is co-ed,” some parents assert. Or “it doesn’t seem normal to study without boys around,” female applicants will argue. Oftentimes, however these reactions are rooted in an outdated understanding of single-sex education, which implies that women will not be challenged enough for the “real-world” at a women’s college. Within this reasoning the fallacies are obvious – 1. Women cannot challenge each other 2. Women need to be ‘protected’ from learning environments that are infused with male aggression. 3. Women-only education is not as good as co-ed education.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pathway programmes: What you need to know

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

Many students are celebrating happy news of college admissions and planning their journey abroad for August. However others, who have not received positive results or did not apply in time, are now wondering how to plan their future. Some students have landed in this situation because, for one reason or another, their educational qualifications are inadequate to pursue an undergraduate degree abroad. But such students still have the option to consider a ‘foundation course’ in the UK or the US.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Rankings: Choose your college wisely

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

This time of year students start receiving admissions results. Many applicants have already received their UK University offers and conditions and all US colleges will announce admissions results by March 31. Once a results are out the question of which college to choose weighs on the minds of applicants and their families. You may be wondering how do I leverage my best option given all the considerations of cost, course and college. Most applicants take advice of older students, teachers, counselors and alumni, but at some point, everyone will invariably turn to published rankings as one resource to guide their decision.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

SAT vs ACT: How to spot the differences

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

On Saturday the new SAT test will be administered in the US for the first time. This change is generating a lot of anxiety for students. In past years the SAT and ACT each had their own distinctive qualities that catered to different test taking styles and types of students. However, the College Board’s redesigned somewhat mimics the ACT in style and emphasis. However, there are a number of comparison points still worth noting. Below is a more detailed description of each test. 

New SAT:  
The New SAT is 3 hours long with an optional, 50 minute, essay question section. The three main sections are evidence based reading (65 min, 52 questions), writing and language (35 min, 44 questions) and math (80 min, 58 questions). Both reading/writing and math sections are scored on a scale of 200-800, equaling to a total score of 400-1600. The essay is scored from 2-8 and reportedly separately. Tests are offered seven times a year and registration deadlines are four weeks before the date.

As far as overall subject knowledge, a majority of the content is similar to the ACT, however the emphasis and style of questions differ somewhat. The reading section has a total of five passages spanning literature, history and sciences. Questions emphasize analysis and understanding the arguments presented. The writing and language section presents 4 passages and puts more focus on the meaning of words and their use in different contexts than in the ACT. This can be a great asset if you are confident your reading and language skills. The math section is broken up into two parts, one with a calculator and one without. Content emphasizes algebra and data analysis as opposed to geometry and trigonometry. For the essay question on the SAT, students are given a small text and asked to analyze the author’s argument in an academic manner. 

The ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes with an optional essay question for 30 minutes. The test has four other sections that always appear in the same order:  English (45 min, 75 questions), Math (60 min, 60 questions), Reading (35 min, 40 questions), and Science (35 min, 40 questions. Each section is individually scored on a scale of 1-36 and then averaged for a composite score (the writing score is not part of the average). The test is offered six times a year and the registration deadline is five to six weeks prior to the test date.  

The English section presents four passages always in the same style and order. One prose fiction, one social sciences, one humanities, and one natural sciences. While the SAT is more about analysis, the ACT is more about reading comprehension. The math section has a wider range of material and students are allowed to use calculators throughout. There is far more geometry and trigonometry on the test (average one fourth of the section). ACT writing has a lot more questions than the SAT and is slightly more focused on grammar and conventions. The obvious difference in the ACT is that it has a science section, which tests reasoning skills more than actual science knowledge. The writing section on the ACT requires students to argue their own opinion on an issue. It gives three perspectives and asks students to evaluate one using specific examples. 

For many students, timing can be a challenge when taking the ACT. Most say their biggest difficulty is in finishing the section. The ACT questions generally are more straightforward and content based with no “trick questions.” If you are a student who is confident in your content knowledge and can work at a faster pace, the ACT may be a better option for you. 

The best way to decide which test to take is to sit down for yourself and assess the different parts of each test. See the format, see what the test taking rules are, see how it is graded, and more importantly sample multiple questions in each section. After which, you should be able to gauge, on your own, which test feels more comfortable. If you still feel confused, take the time one weekend and do the full tests. You can then compare your score on the concordance table and see where your strengths are. These few steps are generally enough for you to feel confident about which test you should focus on. 

Test-Optional Colleges
According to Fairtest, a non-profit organization that works to make sure standardized testing is not misused and biased, 850 universities have announced a test-optional policy. Top-tier colleges such as Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and George Washington University are among the many. Within this group, some colleges don’t require any student to submit scores, other colleges exempt only those with a specific GPA, and others require test scores but for non-admissions procedures. If you feel standardized testing is a challenge for you and that the other parts of your application are better telling of who you are as a student, you have the option to not submit scores. However, one thing to note is that one less factor presented to the admissions board means the other parts of your application are given more weight. Many college counselors would generally advise you to still try and take the test and then decide after whether to submit it. More likely than not, some of the colleges on your list will still require test scores, so you will have to take the test regardless. 

For more information:
4. (for sample SAT tests)
5. (great detailed comparison of both tests)

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Read all you can, write every day

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

Typically Indian students who want to study abroad tend to be focused on STEM subjects (a common acronym for subjects including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Even business requires strength in math, which puts the majority of student interests in STEM fields. However, the application process, especially to US colleges, rewards students who can write well, introspect, and think critically about unstructured topics.  As a result, what often happens is that students who can clearly handle the technical and quantitative aspects of a course may not be admitted because they cannot demonstrate, nor articulate the significance of their skills and experience.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Maximise your chances at financial aid, but be realistic

Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

Financial aid is a popular topic for students who are considering foreign education. 
And for good reasons; the cost of fees and living expenses can exceed one crore 
rupees, depending on the college and destination. Efforts to defray these costs are 
understandable, however the amount of aid available is extremely limited. 
If you are worried about funding your education here are some things you need to