We have been discussing about the components of bachelor’s or undergraduate degree applications in US universities since last week. Today, we address a critical piece of the application – academic records, which are often referred to as transcripts.
A student’s academic record demonstrates to the admissions committee the student’s strength in academics and interest in learning. The admissions office reviews academic records of student applicants for the last four years, i.e. records from 9th to 12th standard. If the student is currently in 12th, then the records up to 11th standard are to be submitted at the time of the application, along with possible mid-year grades or predicted scores for 12th standard.
Universities in the US require academic records or transcripts presented in a particular fashion. Very importantly, the transcript has to be officially issued by the school or the board of education under which the student pursued his/her schooling. Photo copies of mark sheets or report cards are not acceptable. Additionally, the transcript should list all subjects/courses that the student has taken during each year of her or his education, with the corresponding marks/grades received in each subject. All academic records have to be in English language and should carry the seal or stamp of your school/education board to be considered official.
Generally, acquiring one set of these transcripts (one for each level of class, i.e. 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th) should suffice. Students may scan this one set and upload it with his or her online application. However, universities require hard copies of transcripts in some cases, in which case students have to collect multiple copies of the transcripts from their respective schools. If there is a hard-copy requirement, the transcript must be submitted in a sealed envelope, with the school/education board seal or stamp on the flap of the envelope.
Once the student has identified the universities for their applications, they should make sure to check the transcript requirements and request accordingly the number of copies of transcripts needed from their school/board of education. Also, students should start the process of transcript preparation in advance of application deadlines, to avoid any last minute delays in submitting this very important piece of the application.
– Monika Setia (Regional Officer and Education USA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)
Q. I plan to study computer science engineering in a US university. When will the admission process begin? When is the correct time to start the procedure?
– Rama Devi, Warangal
Ans. Academic application deadlines for admission in the US vary by university. Fall and Spring semesters are the two major application intake periods. Fall semester starts in mid-August to September, at the beginning of the academic year. Spring semester starts in January, in the middle of the academic year. Few universities only offer fall semester intake while others offer both Fall and Spring semester intakes. The application deadlines for Fall intake are typically between October and March. For Spring, intake timing runs between March and August. It is important that you check the university website for admission periods offered and respective application deadlines before you start working on your applications.
You should start planning for US university application around two to three years in advance of the programme start date. The application process for the US universities involves multiple components, including an online application, standardised test and English proficiency scores, transcripts, essays and/or statements of purpose (SOP), letters of recommendation, and financial documents. Preparing for standardised tests and taking the tests, writing essays and SOP, and putting together other application documents is a lengthy process. The standardised test and English-language scores should be ideally finished by the third year summer break. In addition, it is advisable to prepare a draft of the statement of purpose in advance of the application deadlines, so that you can go through multiple rounds of review and revisions before final submission. Early application submissions and generally connecting with department faculty and administration in advance of applying to a US university is also advantageous. Another critical piece of planning is registering for standardised and English proficiency tests. Not all of these tests are offered year-round, and each test offers limited seats available. So it is important to always plan ahead, decide on a test date, and register in advance.
Overall, the second year your bachelor’s degree program is a good time to start planning for a US master’s degree application.
Q. Please share the procedure to transfer from one university to another in the US?
– Dhanraj, Hyderabad
Ans. Transferring between the US universities requires serious consideration and is not a decision to be taken lightly. Transferring is not an easy way into more selective universities. It is generally advisable to avoid the transfer process and choose the right university for you the first time. There are many elements to keep in mind for an international student, including ensuring that one’s student visa status is in accordance with the US law and that SEVIS information is up-to-date. The best place to collect information about transfer procedures is with the institutions directly.
Before beginning the transfer process, students should read carefully and review information on both the losing and receiving institutions’ policies on transfer of credits.
Students should plan their transfer at least 12 months before the date they wish to start studying at the new institution. The application process for transfer of students differs slightly from that of first-year applicants, and separate application forms are used. The new institution where a student is transferring may request a personal statement on why they want to transfer to this institution. They may also ask what courses of study the student has taken at their current institution and their college experience thus far. Transfer applicants are expected to have performed well at their current institution and to have proven themselves in higher education. In addition to the above, you may also need to provide all the same items as new applicants to the college, including recommendations, transcripts, standardised test scores, a resume, etc. Institutions have unique policies around transfer options, so it is best to review those procedures prior to beginning the transfer process.
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