Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Pre-departure Planning: Dos and don'ts for your packing list

Things to keep in mind

• Check out with your airline or shipping agent to find out what your baggage allowance is.

• Plan your onward travel from the airport to your final destination – your university.

• Make sure you have received a letter of unconditional acceptance from your college or university.

• Find out how many goods you are allowed to bring in the country you plan to study in, and which items are prohibited.

• If you are taking any prescribed drugs or medicines, ask your doctor to write a letter explaining what they are and why you are taking them.

• Start gathering all the items and documents you are taking with you – make sure you have everything before you start packing.

• Buy any extra items you need e.g. money, belt, photos of yourself, dictionary.

• Label all your luggage with your name and address

Monday, 24 April 2017

USA tightens immigration : Boon or Bane for Indian Students

I just received a call today from a student, "Ma'am, I have an admit from UTD and UIC. I am skeptical whether I should go to USA". This prompted me to come up with this blog article.

Over the last few days, you might have come across a lot of  proposed changes to the H-1B Visa reform and its impact on your ability to secure a job post your degree in USA.

First and foremost do not go by hearsay, have the strong conviction and just go ahead and apply for higher studies if you have decided to. Each year brings with it different phases, which inevitably pass - sometimes there is a recession phase, there was a time when the rupee got devalued and hence students got worried but that phase has passed, this year its about immigration policies 

Here is iGradGlobal's 2 cents on this:

  • These newer immigration orders are just proposals and will take time to implement  and become a law only if they get complete support.
  • There is nothing against student community; students are still encouraged to apply. 
  • There is opposition not for granting work permit on the whole, but to minimize the loopholes in the system like reducing the middle men, better wages and work permit based on merit not luck.
  • This will, in turn, streamline the OPT requirement. If the H1 visa is skills based, you can still have a one year OPT and get a job you deserve, in fact, with much better wages.
  • Lastly, why is it always going to US that is synonymous with going abroad for higher studies? Our students have bagged admits in top world universities in Netherlands - TU Delft, Germany - Hamburg, Canada - Ottawa and Australia - Sydney, to name a few.
Overall, what we  advise is that students weigh the pros and cons and then decide pragmatically and not just through hearsay.

All the best
Happy Global Studies !!               

For more visit us www.igradglobal.in/contact

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Sorting the Spring vs Fall intake dilemma

You have your eyes all glued to the top global admit, but as you rummage through the information overload on the internet, you pause to think which is the best intake, what's the timeline, what tests... Ah, questions, questions and more questions!

Let's take this one step at a time: Most countries like USA, Europe, Canada and Australia will have two intakes in a year for admission. The academic calendar in all these countries commences in Aug /Sep each year (called Fall or Winter). Since this is the first semester of the academic calendar, most funding for projects and research comes in during this semester. 

Secondly, it is concurrent with our graduation months in June when most Indian universities grant the degrees. Thus you can take up the higher education degree immediately after your degree completion without a gap.

Hence Fall/Winter is the most preferred intake.

Now, let's look at the other side: Since Summer/Spring/Jan intake is the second intake in the academic calendar, most funding is exhausted by then. Also, not many international universities accept international students in this intake.

Most importantly, some universities do not allow students to do internships when they join in Spring intake.

Hence, in summary, you need to weigh the pros and cons well before deciding what the best option for you might be. Unless there is a dire situation, we would not recommend that you opt for Spring intake, though  a lot of CS, ECE and Mech universities (mainstream courses) are open to spring intake these days. 

Refer this video for more view 

Send in queries to biruda@igradglobal.in 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Is F1 student visa likely to become stringent with new immigration policies ?

Visa - the travel permit to your dream destination !!
The best you can do for your visa interview is to go in with your best preparation. Irrespective of how immigration policies might change, here is some advice from iGradGlobal on visa interviews.
Key factors in getting the visa:
  • Proper financial documents.
  • Admit in reputed/related Universities.
  • Good academics and competitive test scores.
Key factors in getting denied a visa:
  • Most common reasons for denial and workarounds thereof.
  • Missing documents
  • Sound like potential immigrant
How to prepare for the interview - some generic questions listed here
  • Why MS?
  • Why this univ?
  • Why are you leaving your job?
  • What after MS?
  • Who is sponsoring you?
  • What does your sponsor do?
Some  general advice:
  • Be on time.
  • Don't carry too many/ unecessary docs (refer to the website for the required document), plastic bags, mobile etc.
  • Dress neatly.
  • Be audible and clear  to the officer,  do not lie / or hide information.
  • Read up some past student experiences.

Remember the interview is all about how confident you sound , how convincingly you speak and how well you articulate your points. Don't unnecessarily panic and respond to questions calmly.

For personalized visa counselling refer:

Team iGradGlobal

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My journey into Geotechnical Engineering

My journey into Geotechnical Engineering started some 22 years back when Soil Mechanics and Foundation engineering course was offered in my undergraduate third year at Bengal Engineering College. I immediately fell in love with the subject and even chose Geotechnical Engineering as my elective too. After getting my Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, I wrote the GATE exam and secured a percentile score good enough to get a seat in the revered Jadavpur University. And from here, my journey began with Geotechnical Engineering. MS program in Geotechnical Engineering educates and prepares individuals for careers as geotechnical engineers in the areas of soil mechanics, foundation engineering and environmental geotechnics. 

Let me take this opportunity to explain what this Geotechnical Engineering is all about. Every structure on earth, whether it be a building, bridge, dam, retaining wall, railway line, highway, canal, pipeline, landfill, or pavement is founded on soil and/or rock. Geotechnical Engineering is a branch of Civil Engineering that is concerned with studying the engineering properties of soil and rock and its behavior under the influence of proposed loading forces.
After receiving my Master’s degree with specialization in Geotechnical Engineering, I worked in the industry as a geotechnical engineer. Job prospects are excellent because every construction project involves foundation work. With increasing use of developed land many projects involve the challenge of building on difficult ground such as swamps, or hills. In these areas, specialists like geotechnical engineers and consultants are needed.

If you are wondering what the geotechnical professionals do, here you go. The geotechnical engineer is involved in field and laboratory investigations to determine the engineering properties of site soils. The basic responsibilities include obtaining soil and rock samples at different depths across sites, testing samples to determine their strength, compressibility and other factors that affect the behavior of soil and rock when a structure is built on top of it and determining the safe loading level for the soil. In short, the work of a geotechnical engineer includes five key activities: desk study or research into existing information, ground investigation (gathering new data), interpretation (understanding new data), analysis and design, and finally construction (or remediation).

After working in the industry for good 8 years, I decided to pursue a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering because by then, my thirst for the course had increased so much that I wanted to conduct research. Deep in my heart I cherished my wish to become a professor. I chose to do research on landfills. So, I looked up at all the prospective research areas in the US and UK universities. I got an offer from Cambridge University but financially I could not afford and so finally settled down on the work done by a professor at Michigan State University in US. I took guidance from Career Plan where iGradGlobal's Biruda Virkud worked earlier. With good GRE, TOEFL and TSE scores, recommendations from my professors and my notable work in Master’s thesis, I landed up at MSU with full scholarship. Within four years, I finished my PhD and after that I worked at a college as a Professor where I designed a brand new course on Geotechnical Engineering. My love for Geotechnical Engineering continues till today…..

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Should our students be groomed better to fit top global schools?

My nephew turns 3 this month, so is eligible to commence his formal schooling journey this year.  I was initially very excited to hear about this from my sister, only to later find out that this little toddler, who can't even frame sentences yet, had to actually qualify for this elite ICSE school seat in the hi-tech locality of Pune city, through an "exam".

As the kid progresses through his schooling years, so does the number of entrance exams he needs to take to stay competitive.

All along our academic life from the age of 3 to the age 21 and thereafter while securing a job /career, we have been conditioned to appear for and excel at entrance exams.You can't expect overnight transitions in the approach.  Students cannot be made to rethink or rewire this thinking when they start aspiring for that top global admit.

Being in the higher education counselling/mentoring space for about 15 years, I have tried in vain to make students see the point of how the admission in global universities is subjective and does not depend only on entrance tests alone. You can't blame them, when they repeatedly ask me, "Ma'am, I aspire to study at Stanford! Could you inform me what are the entrance test cut offs there?"

I am always lost on how to react when they say, "Let me first pass the GRE/GMAT/SAT exam and then approach you for admission counselling."

Here's a piece of advice to all those who are aspiring a seat in top universities like MIT (note that MIT does not even seek a GRE score): global university admissions are a very subjective selection process.

Academics scores +  Entrance test scores + relevant profile (it's a sum total)

So, its in the student's best interest to gain more practical skills relevant to his/her subject of interest which will help boost their overall candidature.

Remember, high test scores are just 1/3rd the battle won in the admission process, success lies in presenting a winning application strategy supported by a strong relevant profile.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Recommendations (LORs) - the long and short of it ...

How do letters of recommendation add to the storyline that your application creates?

Did you know that the way you're perceived by your professors or boss has a direct impact on your application? Not for nothing that you're always hearing the sage advice to better be in their good books.

Let's understand the WHO, WHAT and HOW of these letters.

People who know you technically/professionally. Not peers, uncles and friends please! Identify 3 such people who can vouch for you.

Should not contain just a list of adjectives, but rather an endorsement of your soft skills which are otherwise not reflected in your mark sheets. Desirable qualities might include good research and/or leadership skills, elucidated through examples and incidences.

These are sent mostly online through application forms by providing their official ids and receiving a link and updating the content.


  • These are confidential letters not to be seen by the applicant.
  • The designation and qualification of the person providing the recommendation does not matter as much the content and relevance.

A bad reference can turn an admission decision. After all, it is other people's opinion about you that also matters in securing that coveted ADMIT!!