Yale Graduate Turned IMF Analyst Explains How To Perfect College Applications For Dream Universities

Yale Graduate Turned IMF Analyst Explains How To Perfect College Applications For Dream Universities

Here are five ways through which a student can elevate their college applications for admission to dream universities, as relayed by Vatsal Nahata.

Vatsal NahataUpdated: Friday, June 30, 2023, 10:01 PM IST
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Vatsal Nahata, an IMF Analyst, gives his rundown on what makes a college application, for a dream university, perfect. |

(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)

Millions of Indian students plan to study abroad every year but perfecting college applications is an art many are yet to learn. Here are five ways through which a student can elevate their college applications for admission to dream universities: 

1. Align your previous experiences with the academic program - Craft a cohesive narrative around how your prior experiences set you up to succeed in the program you're applying for. One of my students who got through Columbia's SIPA program this year highlighted how teaching slum children allowed her to view poverty from a multidimensional perspective, and understand the multifaceted nature of learning poverty in India. It might sound phony but it works. She got through this year while she hadn't last year - the essay made a big difference.

2. Bring out emotion and authenticity - The last thing you want is a mechanical essay. The reviewers of your essay should be able to get emotionally attached and invested in your story. An IT professional whose essay I edited got through Berklee School of Music, and we highlighted (in graphic and poignant detail) how playing the guitar was his coping mechanism against an abusive father and a failed relationship with his ex.

3. Show thorough research - You'll go a long way in differentiating yourself as an applicant by showing your hunger for the college. All the 12 students who I closely helped last application cycle had at least 4 lines dedicated to the professors and courses they looked forward to taking, as well as extracurricular activities they could contribute to.

4. Show bold and audacious ambition - Universities don't want to bet on people who have limited ambition. They want people who will enrich their alumni community, contribute to student life, and take their name to greater heights. Think about it this way - why would you want to admit someone who is not passionate about bringing impact or making a difference in the world?

5. Show them who you truly are as a person - The essay is the only way to qualitatively differentiate yourself from the competition. Many applicants will have great GRE/GMAT scores, have amazing GPAs in high school/undergrad, and all their recommenders will talk highly about them. The essay is the singular best way to show who you really are. Garnish, season, and enthuse your essay with your personality, character, and struggles, and tie it to why you want to do the course and how it helps you in your long-term career.

The author is a Yale graduate and is currently working as Research Analyst at IMF in Washington DC, USA. His LinkedIn is Vatsal Nahata.

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