My answer to “How can I get into a good MBA College Abroad?”

I often feel a shiver the moment I come across emails from complete strangers asking questions like “How can I get into a good B-School Abroad?” or “I want to do a Global MBA from Abroad. Do I have a chance?”

I mean, come on, how do I know? I don’t know anything about YOU. Your mail doesn’t contain anything apart from your name, the question and some useless jargons describing your good-self. So how is it possible for me to tell how you can get into a good B-School Abroad? Give me a break!

So generally when I get these emails I take a deep breath and write a polite reply asking them to speak to me over phone or Skype for a detailed discussion.

But last evening when I received another such email from a guy called Sauvik Sinha (whom I don’t know at all as usual), may be out of frustration, I decided to write a long email to him.

And I thought of sharing this reply here on the blog so that next time I get a similar email without feeling the shiver I can comfortably share this link in response. Here goes my email response to Sauvik.

——————————–

Re: How can I get into a good MBA College abroad easily?

Hi Sauvik,

Thanks for your mail. It’s indeed interesting to know that you are considering a global MBA abroad. And as a part of Team DIKSHA I would be happy to help you on this. But unfortunately it’s a bit difficult for me to answer the question easily. If you have some time you can go through this long email that may give you some idea about Abroad MBA. But whether that’s helpful for you or not, I am not too sure.

Please note that without your detailed profile (education, work experience, scores) and your requirements (country, budget, career interests) it’s very difficult to say that how can you get into a good B-School abroad.

And moreover, you will also need to define the term “Good”. For some people INSEAD is a good B-School, for someone else SDA Bocconi might be a good MBA College and still for others it has to be a Harvard or an LBS. So what’s good for you?

Finally, let me also tell you that “good” things generally don’t come “easily”.

Without the background information, my response is not specific but rather it’s going to be generic – what the management gurus would term as the “rainfall approach”.

Assumptions:

  1. You are thoroughly convinced that you actually need an MBA from Abroad and you do have sufficient reasons for that
  2. You are sure that you will be able to afford that either through your own sources or through Education loan
  3. You do have some decent work experience (at least 2 years)

Note: In case your thoughts on the above points are “Not true” or “Not sure”, then STOP here and try to sort these out.

 

Definition of Good B-Schools in context of this response: Top 125 Global B-Schools in USA, Europe, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, China/ Hong Kong etc.

The Steps for getting into “Good” B-Schools Abroad:

  • Prepare for GMAT
  • Prepare for IELTS/ TOEFL
  • Take GMAT and IELTS/ TOEFL exams
  • Get good scores in these exams
  • Shortlist the “Good” B-Schools where you should apply
  • Get your documents in place
  • Research and Write MBA Essays for the shortlisted B-Schools
  • Complete your B-School application
  • Get Interview Calls from some of them
  • Prepare for your MBA Interview
  • Crack the Interview
  • Get admission offer from some of them
  • Select the best one
  • Pay & complete the Visa process
  • Prepare for Visa documentation & Visa Interview
  • Get your Visa
  • Complete your pre-flying chores
  • Fly to your MBA destination

While the steps listed above may look rudimentary, but actually you have to physically go through all these steps. And it takes time, patience, resource, guidance and motivation.

In general the entire process will take about 15 to 20 months time. So it’s better to be mentally prepared for this eventful, exciting & stressful journey right at the start.

And if you decide to go for it then to make this journey somewhat smoother, here are 5 specific guidelines on the first part of the journey.

  1. Decided your MBA Session: which session you would like to start your MBA. This is May 2016. So Fall 2016 (starting August this year) is out of question. Depending on your own planning the earliest could be Fall 2017
  2. GMAT Timeline: Start preparing for your GMAT now. Based on your Quantitative & Verbal skills it may take somewhere between 3 to 6 months for the preparation for most of the students (of course I am referring to the average students and NOT the genius or the dumbos). In your case, if you are applying for Fall 2017 then ideally you should be done with your GMAT by end of October 2017
  3. Your GMAT Preparation: As you must be knowing GMAT is Computer Adaptive Test for assessing the Academic Aptitude for potential MBA students. It consists of three parts: the first part consists of 2 sections (Argument Essay of 30 minutes and Integrated Reasoning of 30 minutes); next is Quantitative Aptitude (37 questions in 75 minutes) and finally it’s the Verbal Aptitude (41 questions in 75 minutes). It’s very difficult to write about how you should prepare for GMAT in a single write up, but in short let me tell you it’s a rigorous and disciplined approach (and may be some able guidance) that will be required for a good score in GMAT. Your mathematical concepts should be absolutely clear. You should be accurate with all the standard written English grammar rules. You should be an amazing “READER” (expert in reading and getting a “fairly good idea” about long, high-quality, complicated and boring passages in a short time). Generally I suggest my students to adhere to the rigorous study schedule as designed for you by the Diksha GMAT Transcend. Leave no stones unturned in your practice – memorizing rules, doing the assignments, studying the explanations of practice questions you answered (correctly or incorrectly), taking mock tests strictly under timed conditions and maintaining a good health throughout your preparation schedule etc. In short, be stubborn about improving your GMAT score on every single day leading up to the test.
  4. Ideal GMAT Score: The total GMAT score is 800 (except the first part, consisting of Argument Essay and IR, that is scored on a Scale of 6 separately). Now it’s very difficult to say what score would be ideal for you. Of course, higher the better! If you score a 740 plus – you’re OUTSTANDING. If you score 700 plus – you’re EXCELLENT. But please note that despite being outstanding you can be denied admission in a particular B-School. In general, if you are eyeing an admission in Top 25 B-Schools I would say aim for 720 plus. If you are targeting Top 100, then 700 plus is good. And if you can go one level below (i.e. Top 125) then 670 plus will be really fine.
  5. TOELF or IELTS: These are International English Proficiency Tests designed by ETS (USA) and Cambridge University (UK) respectively. Both measures the English Communication skill of a candidate in four Sections comprising Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. It is required by all candidates planning to study abroad (even those who are planning immigration) to take either of these tests and score more than a certain cut-off marks. Now a days, almost 75% of the Universities or Countries are quite flexible with either of the exams (that is, you can submit your IELTS score in USA and your TOEFL Score in Spain). If you are planning for Fall 2017 admission then ideally you should be through with your IELTS/ TOEFL exam by end of October. But since I have already suggested end of October as you GMAT exam date, hence you can take IELTS/ TOEFL either 45 days before that. Depending on your grasp on English communication (again considering you are not in the extremities), the preparation should take somewhere between 1.5 to 3 months. Please ensure that you work on your pronunciation, essay writing skills, extempore etc. Besides do watch USA/ UK English News Channels and English Movies (without sub titles). IELTS is a pen ’n paper exam where each of the Sections carry a maximum band score of 9. The Overall IELTS Score is also out of 9. TOEFL is a Computer/ Internet Based Tests (it’s called the TOEFL iBT) where each section is scored on 30 and the Overall TOEFL Score is out of 120. Generally the Universities or the Countries specify a requirement Cut-Off marks in IELTS or TOEFL. To be on a safer side you can take the higher limit of the cut-off as
    • IELTS: Overall 7 and not less than 6.5 in any of the sections
    • TOEFL: Overall 98 and not less than 22 in any of the sections

For any specific questions please feel free to revert. You can mail me to dikshalearningservices@gmail.com or call me at +91 9674484100.

Best wishes.

Debasish Basu

Chief Advisor

GMAT & MBA Admission

DIKSHA LEARNING SERVICES P LTD.

 

Advertisements

6 Winning Strategies for Visa Interview for Study Abroad

Congratulations that you have got an admit with 100% Scholarship at a top Global University in US and the University has sent you the coveted I-20 required for the US Student Visa!

After toiling so hard for a top score in GRE & TOEFL exams, after researching for hours for your application essays and after preparing hundreds of documents for your applications, now it’s the time to relax and cherish the moment!

Sorry, but most probably you have forgotten the most important last step. The Visa Interview!!!

For the uninitiated, Visa Interview can be one of the biggest challenges that students face during the entire study abroad application process is the visa interview.

In order to make sure to sail through your Visa interview, here are some tips and guidelines from DIKSHA LEARNING SERVICES that specializes in Study Abroad Test Preparation and Abroad Study Admission guidance:

1) Documentation shows Dedication

Ensure that you have copies of all the required documents with you during the interview, arranged in proper order and ideally coded with a proper marking.

Ideally you should classify the documents in following categories & in following order:

  1. Visa related: I-20, Visa Fee receipt & Visa Interview confirmation letter
  2. Admission related: Admission Letter, Scholarship Letter (if applicable), University Fees receipt, Education Loan Approval Letter (if applicable), Any other Letter from the University related to admission that you deem fit
  3. Academic related: Degree transcripts, Degree Certificates, School Leaving & High School Leaving Certificates, Test Scores of SAT/ GRE/ GMAT and IELTS/ TOEFL, any significant academic achievement certificates
  4. Work experience related (if applicable): Appointment Letter of current and last 2 employers, last 3 month salary slips (as applicable)
  5. Extra-curricular related: Any significant extra-curricular certificate

At DIKSHA we always tell our students that the ordering & marking of the Document Files is important so that it becomes easier for the interviewer to find things easily. And in case he/ she asks you to show something from your file, you should not fumble – you should be prompt and confident. A neatly arranged document file gives an impression of the application as someone who is highly dedicated, systematic and thorough in his approach. And trust us, the Visa interviewer is going to like that.

2) Focus on Finance

To get your student visa, you need to furnish several financial documents. These documents prove that you have the necessary resources to pay for tuition fees, living expenses, accommodation etc. If your parents (or any relatives) are funding your education, then you will need to submit their bank statements (or, liquid asset statement) including original bank records, Income Tax returns of the last three years along with fixed deposit receipts or certificates. This may also include Scholarship Confirmation letter or Education Loan Approval Letter.

But we have already included these in the “Documentation” part. Why are we repeating? Very simply because we have seen that most of the Indian students don’t know their finances! And during the interview if asked a question on this matter, some of the brightest students just go numb!

“Well my dad is paying. Go and please ask him…” It’s a typical attitude of many Indians. But this doesn’t go well with the interviewer. At DIKSHA we always advise our students aspiring for abroad studies that they should actually know their finances well.

“How much will it cost? How much can I afford? And from where do I get the funds?” Get your calculations thorough on these lines. Don’t miss out possible escalation in expenses (like a provision in the University Fees rule that says Tuition Fees will go up next year or can increase in next semester if you opt for Subject X or even the possibility of the living cost going up next year). Ideally you should comfortable show that you can afford more than what it will take to study for 2 or 4 years.

And one more thing, talk in Dollars ($). A visa interviewer is certainly going to be more comfortable if Indian Rupee is avoided. 

3) Prepare or Perish

Just like the way we prepare thoroughly before going for a job interview or the grand viva, the preparation is the key. Remember the following points that you need to be prepared for:

  1. Course related – the duration, subjects, electives, important dates, study breaks, internship options, credit points and credit hours. If you are not very acquainted with the concept of “Credit Points” and “Credit Hours”, please learn it from someone who knows it well.
  2. University related – about the particular university, which campus (if there are multiple campuses) you will be studying, any significant landmark in the history of the university, eminent professors or alumni (if any)
  3. Country related – about the country, its demographics, about the city/ place where the University campus is located, a bit of history and culture, food habits, important cities/ monuments/ places to see, important personalities

4) Making the logical Match

This may be the tough part that moves away from information into the realm of “persuasion”. Questions like “Why this Course” or “Why this University” can make or break your interview.

So be well prepared and match these four things: Your skills and qualities, your career aspirations, the course and the University. You can refer to your SOP or Application Essay and try to ascertain that how this particular program in this particular university is going to help you in achieving your career goals.

DIKSHA suggests its students not to be dramatic and emotional in their responses to such questions. Ideally you should just be logical and establish the relationship between these four things – how they connect. The facts will certainly help here, but the focus should be on the logic in match making!

5) Unsettling the “Settler” trap

A visa interviewer is like a gate keeper and the visa interview is a process to “close the gate” for a potential “settler” or an immigrant i.e. a person with an intention of settling down permanently in a foreign country.

So, the interviewer may try to trap you. Some of the students of DIKSHA have come across questions like “Ok, so after your MS in Artificial Intelligence would you like to join Google Head Office in California or a Tech Start Up in San Francisco?” or something like “Don’t you think that once your course is over and you join a job, you should bring your parents to the US so that you can take care of them?”. Beware of such questions. These are blatant traps! The Visa Officer is trying to catch you on the wrong foot regarding your intention. Don’t fall for them.

Your answers should be perfectly clear in stating that your purpose for studying abroad is Higher Studies only and it has nothing to do with settling down in that country. Please find logic and passion in convincing the interviewer that you are not seeking employment in the foreign country. After the course you will plan to return to your home country equipped with the degree, knowledge and skills that you have acquired there.

Here it’s important to note that your long term career goals should be related to your home country.
Just for example, if you are going abroad for an MS in Biotechnology you should be able to tell the interviewer how you see the potential of qualified Biotech professionals in India in near future. Or, if you are going for your PhD in Artificial Intelligence you should be able to convince the interviewer that how this PhD from this reputed University would help you to get a dream job of an Assistant Professor in one of the IITs.

Please remember you should categorically try to distinguish yourself from a potential immigrant or a potential job seeker.

6) Overall Impression is Important

Finally, it’s about your soft skills. This is the usual staff. But many a times, students tend to overlook these basics. Don’t be one of those “over-lookers”!  Remember:

  1. Be on time
  2. Be well groomed, dressed in formal wear
  3. Be courteous and polite but don’t be submissive
  4. Don’t get agitated or irritated on any particular question or remarks
  5. Be calm, composed and confident
  6. Be ready for some “strange” or “intimidating” or “trap” questions. Don’t panic. The questions are just to test your intention, attitude, skills, knowledge or common sense. Answer them with conviction. If you don’t know, please say so!
  7. If you can’t understand a particular question first apologize and then ask to repeat the question
  8. Keep your answers short and relevant. Don’t go overboard. Be specific.

And last but not the least “be positive”. Despite following everything as mentioned above there is always a probability that the Visa officer is not convinced. In an unfortunate situation where you are denied a student visa, please refrain from arguing with the interviewer. Instead you can request the Visa Officer to provide the reason(s) for the denial along with a list of documents that he or she would suggest that you bring next time to ensure that you are granted the student visa.  Ensure that you leave with a lasting positive impression.

For any query regarding your Visa Interview for Abroad Study please feel free to connect to Diksha Learning Services Pvt. Ltd. You can call us at +91 9674484100.