3 major portfolio building points for applications to post-graduate universities abroad

According to a recent survey, India ranks second in the number of students travelling abroad for post-graduate studies. Every foreign university has a different eligibility cap for foreign student admissions, ranging from high GPA and competitive exam scores to extracurricular and social activities. PaGaLGuY spoke to some foreign post-graduate study applicants and exam coaching experts about the 3 most important points to focus on while building a foreign college application portfolio.

1. Academic Ability

Colleges will first evaluate the strength of your GPA as compared to the other applicants. Some colleges may also have a minimum score criteria. On an average, less than 10% of the total foreign student applicants to major US post-graduate schools get admission in a particular course in an academic year. According to KIC Education, a Mumbai-based coaching institute for international study, “Students start preparing their application portfolio since their second or third year of degree college. Not just a consistent academic score, but other intellectual initiatives like research papers, thesis or journals written in their field of specialisation, also counts while applying to foreign universities.”

However, those students who do not have access to research resources in their undergraduate colleges, may take up internships involved in core specialty research, and then have their findings/project work published in related online journals. 
“Ideally, students taking the GRE or GMAT for foreign college application start preparing for the exam 8-10 months in advance. They will usually sit for the exam during their final year of graduate college, so as to have enough time to receive their scores and accumulate supporting documents for submissions,” says KIC Education. Some students may also consider retaking the competitive exam in case they have a low score in the first attempt. All this effort directed towards a good exam score comes from the importance placed on students’ academic abilities by foreign college admission officers.

2. Extracurricular and Leadership Activities

Students who do nothing outside of attending classes, don’t make a good impression on admission officers, despite having impressive academic scores. Traditionally, the Indian education system has been deeply rooted in the importance of grades for students’ academic advancements. For e.g. admissions to some of the reputed institutes in India, like AIIMS, IITs, PGIMER, etc, are done through highly competitive entrance test which evaluate applicants only on their exam score. “However, colleges abroad want students, especially those coming from diverse cultures to be proactive so as to initiate more cultural exchanges. This is because, in many top US colleges, university ranking parameters of the College Board place considerable weightage on the level of exposure/learning for students to cultural diversity,” says Deep Chakravarty, a post-graduate student at Chicago University.

Student applications that show a history of leadership are more likely to get invited for further interview rounds, as such students are expected to have more participation in campus activities thus increasing cross-cultural interactions. “Students are advised to build an application portfolio that displays their involvement in campus or local communities at the undergraduate level, by joining social initiative groups, tutoring fellow students, managing a project or volunteering,” say experts at Magoosh, a US-based study abroad platform. 

3. Consistent Progress

If you were to tabulate the history of your activities in college, it should show an upward trend in achievements, both academic and non-academic. According to experts at Magoosh, “If you had trouble with your grades starting out, make sure to show improvement over the course of the years of your study. Take on more responsibilities in student group initiative and extracurricular activities. Rise up to more senior positions in your internships.” It is fine to have modest beginnings, but your 3 or 4-year long degree college analysis report must show consistent growth in academics, skills and career. Indian students at King’s College, London, are also of the opinion that, the university attaches more credibility with students having a consistent track record. Challenging tasks in community projects and class assignments are entrusted to such students by professors.”