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Study Abroad Program – Best Time for Indian Students to Plan Higher Education in US

Many students wishing to go to the US are often confused about the multiple admission times the schools have there. This article aims to life the veil of confusion from this.
  1. Which months do Fall and Spring intake signify?
    In the US, there are generally three kinds of admissions:
    • Fall (August)
    • Spring (January)
    • Summer (May).

    Intake usually starts 6 months before the classes start and end three months before. Every university has 2 to 4 deadlines for each intake.

    A quick snapshot:
    For Fall – The classes start in August and the universities accept applicationsbetween January and April of that year.

    For Spring – The classes start in December and universities accept applications between June and September of that year.

    For Summer– The classes start in April and theuniversities accept applications between October of the previous year and the January of the subsequent year.

    Rolling admissions: Some universities also have rolling admissions, i.e., they accept application all through the year.

    A few schools also have winter admissions; however this is a very short one and not something that is preferred.
  2. Which session is the best suited in the perspective of a student from India?
    There are various points of view on this question and hence, it is essential to consider a few parameters/conditions.

    University offers courses basis the demand. And, considering that many students across the world come to join a givenUniversity during the Fall season (immediately post the competition of their under-graduation), the demand for the courses during the Fall is much higher

    This allows the schools to offer more programs during this admission period, which is not so for the others.

    So, in case you were to apply during the Spring or Summer season, there is a possibility that the course you are interested in, is not being offered by the college.

    The temperature in the North East or the Central America are extreme and touch nearly zero for three to four months starting October. If you are opting for a Spring admission – you would start your life in an extremely cold winter and that is drastically different from what is experienced in India.

    Thus, you may not only have difficulties adjusting to climate, but also have difficulties in traveling around and exploring the area to be to settle down.

    As the number of applicants for the Fall season is higher than those in other seasons, the Universities have a larger budget for scholarships, thus improving a chance of getting a scholarship, more so, for an applicant with good profile.

    Indian students are considered intelligent, hard-working and above all, good in English. Hence, the students from India have ample chances of getting a Teaching Assistantship.

    As a Teaching Assistant, the students assist their professors. This can include conducting extra classes, carrying evaluation, invigilating tests, among others.

    The openings for this TA (Teaching Assistant) is higher during the Fall, and because these are offered as one-year tenure, the number of openings during the other seasons is comparatively lesser. That does not mean as student who goes during the Spring season cannot become an assistant, it only means that one has to wait for one semester to apply for this opening during the subsequent Fall.

    Living and Housing options:
    Indian students do not usually stay in the college hostels. They prefer, for commercial reasons, to take housing facilities near the college – these being cheaper than college’s hostel. However, even these facilities come with annual lease during the Fall, and so students going during the Spring, would find the best housing facilities already taken on lease by the time they land there!

    All the above thus bring us to one important question – should Spring season, the second most preferred after Fall be avoided?

    No! Spring is not a bad choice.
    There are a variety of reasons which probably does not allow the student to apply for the Fall season. This could be your quest to improve your profile by re-qriting your GRE, or doing some extra assignment which makes your profile more desirable to better schools. In such a case, it is preferred to go to a better school in Spring, that to a low ranking school in fall.

    However, you would have to see if the program of interest is being given by schools or not during the Spring season.

    I normally advise my students not to worry too much about the choice of Spring entry as long as the college is of repute – and provides good education and placement opportunities.

    In the past I have had students with low academic profile, joining as research assistant under their undergraduate professor, working for about six months post their under-graduation, and submitting an application to the US school for Spring entry. This improved profile, on account of the experience, actually makes sense as this helps the student get a better admit.

    Summer, however, is not a recommended season for making an entry. The demand for courses during this season is less, the courses cost less too. Being a very short season, Indians, and rightly so, do not prefer this.

  3. Will a particular season like a Fall or a Spring or a Summer influence the course, the course duration and other academic related?
    Most of the universities have the highest quantum of admissions in Fall, followed by Spring and Summer. The duration of the semesters is same for all of semesters – 15 weeks. In US, one needs to have 9 months of course work to get a permit – CPT – to be eligible to do an internship outside college.

    Hence if a student goes in the Spring, she will not be able to do summer internship, Such students should then plan to make the most of the summer by taking courses being offered by the school. This would not just help the student complete the program faster but also would help improve the profile for the job she would be looking for post the program.

    To sum up the follow points would have to be remembered by the students.

    • Less demand and less supply, so if your scores are good and don’t want to wait for another year – go ahead and bet on yourself.
    • Lesser housing options, scholarship options and course options.
    • No summer internship in the first summer.

    • More demand, more supply.
    • Don’t need to have break after under-grad if you are planning right after college.
    • More and better housing options, scholarship options and course options.
    • Better adapting to the winter weather if you are going to the eastern or the central America.

    Finally, what is our suggestion to aspiring students, especially with regard to applying for a certain Session?
    Going to a foreign country is not a small decision. It impacts ones life. So you should not rush to take decision only on the basis of the admission time.

    Three main criteria should be first considered to make a decision higher education in abroad are – the three Cs. The First C - the Country; The Second C - the College, The Third C - the Course.

    If the course you wish to take is offered in only one semester, then no debate there – go for it. But if its offered in more than one semester – take your time and build your profile to increase your chances of getting in with a scholarship.

    Students generally think GRE / IELTS is the most important element for admission and stress quite a bit of time on the same. However, do remember good colleges do not just look at these (as most of the students who apply to these colleges have these scores very similar to yours if you are applying), but look a lot to your profile. Invest in this, and once you believe your profile is ready – apply.

    Profile building is all about understanding how you can differentiate your application to make it “more desirable” for good colleges to give you an admit. It is about understanding what you have done so far, and what can be done more to make it a strong one – and thus as strong application.

    While I am working on someone’s profile, I spend a lot of time brainstorming with the student. Asking random as well as piercing questions to understand their past, present, and future. After I collect a lot of data, the next challenge for me to sift through it to look at that data points that can be projected.

    While brainstorming if I see some negative – this could be in form of low academic marks, low scores in various tests like GRE, GRE AW, or IELTS, gap in the education etc., I tend to look for other elements in their profile that can counter these – and project that more – to actually counter these.

    Many elements in the profile are related to the past, and so cannot be changed. For example, your graduation marks (overall if completed or till date, if you are still a student), your projects etc. However, there are a few elements which can still be done – for example, an online course in the area of your interest. I dwell a lot on these “controllable” aspects and guide students to bridge this.

    No wonder I have had successes in placing students with near average profiles in leading colleges like Perdue University, Washington State University and others!

    Once your profile is ready the next stage after Profile Building is the Profile Projection stage.

    Profile Projection happens through the most important document you would be asked to submit as a part of the application – your Statement of Purpose, or SOP as it is known.

    This document is not an exhibition of your language skills (many make it so). Your language skills have already been tested through GRE, IELTS and even your XII class English marks. This document is about a story, which is your life story. It should talk about your past, your present, but more importantly how all these links to your future, and how the program you are applying to and the college you seek admission would help you reach that.

    Writing SOP is a skill. However, that is not something that is time-consuming. When I ghost-write an SOP, I tend to take not more than 1 or 2 hours max! Where I take more than a day or two is the first part – the Profile Building.

    Quite often I have seen many consultants ask students to submit their SOP – unfortunately, students do not know how to look at their special traits and present them in a precise and focused form. Many just copy SOP from their seniors and window dress them. This compromises their application and thus the ability to get into higher ranking colleges.

    Do not compromise on the College. Remember Go to the best and most suitable Country for your profile. Go to the highest-ranking College for your specialization. And then take the most exciting and high job prospect Course.

    To conclude: Take time to Build and project your profile. Do not compromise on the College. The best of course is to have the profile ready by the time you are entering the final year of your under-graduation. That allows you to submit a strong application for the Fall season (immediately following your under-graduation) and go to the US, without any break in your studies.

    However, if you are convinced that given another six months you would be able to strengthen your profile more – may be by taking a few on-line sessions, doing some project (especially research oriented ones), or publishing a technical paper – then – takes these extra six months, and submit a good application for Spring.

    However, it is not recommened to look at Summer or Winter intake. These are very short periods, and would not give you enough time to immerse yourself in the new culture and to give your best in academics.

    When an Indian student goes abroad, the idea is not just to study in a good school. Idea is also to use that school reputation, and the learnings to get a good job and make a career. So do not rush.

    It is true, in India people do not consider a break in academic flow positively. If a student has a break of an year or so, they are discriminated a bit. However in developed countries, like in the US, you would find many students who have taken a break – may be just to travel around the world and to experience life. It is an accepted part of a student life. Many times you, being 21 or so years old, would have classmates from these countries, aged 28 or so, doing the same graduation courses. So you are not old. So, do not act like one.

    Many of my students who have gone to the US, during the Spring season have also completed their graduation program with good distinction and make a great career and life for themselves. If they can – you can.

    Whether you go for Spring or Fall, work hard there. Starting a life afresh in a foreign soil is not easy. Immerse yourself in learning their culture too. Interact with people from across the globe – people you would meet in your school there. However, do not ever forget – you have gone there to make a great life. So do not compromise on academics.

    When you need something great – you need to put in great effort too.

    So, put in!

    All the best. In case you have any queries, you can write to me at
Published date : 12 Apr 2019 05:13PM

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