Apps Checklist for Further Studies


For those of you who are applying to study abroad, the deadlines are drawing near and you might be struggling to juggle courses, exams, apps and perhaps placements too. Here is a handy checklist you can use to make sure you’re on track.

  1. Deadlines: Make sure you double-check the deadlines for all your universities and try to plan so that you submit applications around a week in advance.

  2. Application Form: Start filling the actual application forms at least a month in advance. If anything confuses you, email the admissions advisors from the programme website with your query.

  3. Contacting professors of interest: Check if your programmes require you to email professors beforehand. If there is no information on this, it is advisable to contact the university and ask whether this is necessary or recommended (as some places actively discourage prospective students from contacting profs). Try not to mail over weekends or holidays.

  4. Standardized tests: Check the specifications for each programme of interest- some places may not require testing at all. Using the university-specific code for each programme, send your test scores (GRE and TOEFL are the most common ones) through your testing service accounts (like MyGRE). It may take up to a week for these to get sent, so it is better if you finish this as soon as you finalize your list of programmes/universities.

  5. Recommendation Letters: These are an extremely important part of the applications process. Check how many letters are needed for each application (most programmes ask for 3). Contact guides, professors and/or employers (from past internships or jobs) well in advance, ideally at least a month before, and request them for the letters. Make sure to ask how many they would be able to provide. Enter their names in the applications early so that they have ample time to write and send. It is acceptable to send a couple of reminders close to the deadline.

  6. Statement of Purpose: The SOP is another crucial component of the application process. You must ensure you spend a decent amount of time and effort on this. Check the guidelines for SOPs at each programme of interest – these may differ- and tailor your SOP accordingly. It is usually advised that SOPs go through at least 3-5 rounds of editing. Send your drafts to friends and seniors for feedback.

  7. Resume or CV: You will usually need to upload it in your application. Check if your programmes have specific guidelines or requirements regarding CVs and tailor accordingly.

  8. Transcripts: You will usually need to upload a scan of your transcript in the application. Go to the Admin Block (4th floor) to apply for a transcript. You’ll have to pay Rs. 250 for 2 transcripts. Do this ahead of time – it will take at least a few days to get the transcripts.

  9. Additional Components: Programmes may have specific additional components, such as writing samples, diversity statements or personal statements. Check the programme’s application page carefully to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.

  10. Applying for scholarships: Check the funding and scholarship pages of your programmes and universities carefully. You may find opportunities to apply for external scholarships, whose deadlines you have to keep in mind.

Handy tips:

  • Check out this FAQ article from our archives in conversation with alumni studying abroad on the applications process.
  • Use a google sheet to keep track of your progress and pending tasks, and labels for applications-related email.
  • Back up your SOP drafts on a pendrive just in case.

Cheers, and the very best of luck!

Isha Bhallamudi is a fourth year student of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department in IIT Madras, majoring in Development Studies. Having recently discovered the joys of being off Facebook (which didn't last very long), she can be found reading, listening to strange music or making lists.

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