A Guide For Graduate Students Educated Outside the US

Pasad is a software engineer at a high-tech company. He is happy at his company, but knows that a graduate degree will help him advance, plus, his company will reimburse his educational expenses.

Pasad has always been proud of his Bachelors degree in Computer Science from a good school in India. So he was surprised and disappointed that he could not be admitted to the MBA program at a local state school. The reason was that his bachelor’s degree was from a 3-year program in India, not the traditional 4-year degree.

Employees educated outside the US who come into the country for jobs usually have their credential evaluated by private companies. These “job position and experience evaluations” usually show that the employee’s college credits, plus their work experience equal a degree in the US. This evaluation is to obtain a job, only, not to be used to gain admission into a local graduate program.

If you are employed, desire a graduate degree and have been educated outside the US, here are some suggestions for pursuing a US degree:

1) Have your overseas credentials evaluated by an accredited school or agency to see if your degree is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree.

Two ways to obtain that information:

A. Select a college that offers the graduate program you desire and apply.

The college, as part of the admission process, evaluates prior courses and credentials. The advantage: No extra fees for the Foreign Transcript Evaluation. The disadvantage: You may have to complete the entire admission process before getting the results and may be rejected if your undergraduate transcripts show your degree is not U.S. equivalent.

B. Have your credentials evaluated before you apply.

The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, Inc. (NACES) accredits evaluation companies such as Educational Credential Evaluators or World Evaluation Services to perform this service. Most colleges will acknowledge the results by these evaluation companies. The advantage of using a private evaluation service: You will know beforehand if your foreign credentials are U.S. equivalent. The disadvantage: There is a fee attached to this service of approximately $100-$150.

2) Plan to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL is a computer-based test, so results are immediate. Almost all graduate programs require the TOEFL for students educated outside the US. There are several good books and software available to study for the TOEFL. Check the website: toefl.org

3) Plan to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) if applying for the MBA degree or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for non-business degrees: computer science, engineering, psychology, history, biology, etc. Information on taking those tests can be found on these websites: mba.com ; gre.org. Check to see if your chosen college requires these admission tests or another, such as the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

4) Once you have your overseas transcript evaluated and it is declared “US equivalent” and you have taken the TOEFL, the application process to graduate school becomes the same as anyone educated in the US. Colleges will admit you from a combination of several criteria: undergraduate grades (or marks), GRE or GMAT scores, reputation of undergraduate institution, type of major, work experience, written recommendations and other factors.

If your overseas education is not equivalent to US standards, you may have to take courses required for a bachelor’s degree. Several universities, including some online degree programs, offer a Bridge Program for students with 3-year undergraduate degree. Students take 30 units of academic credits to make-up for the fourth year of school, but usually the prerequisites for the Master’s degree are also included.

Pasad found a Bridge program at a university close to his house and is taking his 30 units to be admitted to the MBA program. He found that the Bridge program helped him with his writing skills, communications skills and business skills and the classes were equivalent to the prerequisites he needed.

Three Great Ways to Get Free Money For Graduate Students

Finding money for graduate students can seem like a hard task at first site. Here are a few things you will need to know before you start your search.

Educational Grants

Grants may be classified as monetary and non-monetary gifts that do not require any repayment by a student. There are many types of grants available from different sources to include government, large businesses, international organizations, and private foundations. Grants may be awarded based on several criteria, such as academic performance, financial need, or professional achievements. Most, if not all, grants require maintaining a certain GPA and full-time student status. Grants may come in different forms, helping a student to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, research, travel, and some others.

Scholarships for Graduate Students

Scholarships are awards that, similarly to grants, require no repayment to granting institution by a student. Scholarships for students may be based on a wide range of criteria from academic excellence and outstanding achievements to ethnic background and social status. While scholarships vary in the amounts and length, they are all, equally to grants, highly competitive and require a lot of effort to obtain.

Scholarships come from a variety of sources, from government to private. Many schools, especially private universities, issue scholarships to most talented students. Contacting your school for a list of available scholarships is the best starting point for any graduate student seeking free help with funding his or her graduate degree. There is an array of other sources, however, besides university you attend, that offers scholarship search and assistance. A comprehensive online search may help you to come up with a solid list of scholarships for graduate students.

Networking Tips for Undergrad and Graduate Students

Many reclusive graduate students are terrified of the concept of networking, and desperately seek any networking tips that they can get. Even though they know and understand that networking is crucial to their success as academics, many graduate students avoid opportunities to network with other professionals in their fields, perhaps because they don’t understand what networking is or how to go about it. We can eliminate confusion about, as well as offer you networking tips about what networking is by defining networking as a process of developing a web of professional and academic relationships and contacts that are mutually beneficial to all parties and that can be used to further various types of agendas (e.g., academic, professional, personal, etc.). We would like to emphasize that networking is a constantly evolving process that requires time, effort, and forethought; you cannot network effectively if you only attend one academic function in your entire career as a graduate student. Rather, networking is a process in which you will engage not only in your academic career as a graduate student but also in your postgraduate career as a professional, whether or not that career is in academia. If you are unsure how to go about the process of networking, the following are some networking tips to help you get started:

Learn about people.
Remember people’s names, and Google them to familiarize yourself with their work. Be polite and courteous when you meet someone new, and invest time in developing relationships with people you meet.

Develop your interpersonal communication skills.
Remember to shut up and listen sometimes. Do not interrupt someone when he or she is talking. Learn and practice active listening, and demonstrate that you have actively listened to someone else’s conversation by asking intelligent questions.

Do not expect to get something for nothing. Be willing to give something in return if you have asked someone else for a favor.

Prepare for networking opportunities.
Choose some talking points in advance of networking opportunities. Practice those talking points as well as greetings and farewells, which are often the most difficult parts of conversations. Engage in rituals to calm yourself and to boost your self-esteem (e.g., taking several slow, deep breaths, talking positively to yourself in your mirror, etc.).

These networking tips are sometimes the hard to do because graduate students have very little time; they don’t have the time to reciprocate favors or do additional research on people or companies. Unfortunately you will have to make the time and improve your own time management skills if you want to make the connections that are so critical for success.