Studying in America and Canada  

3.2 Decision Criteria and How to Improve Your Chances

Knowing the decision criteria - the approach to assessing candidates for admission and financial aid - is extremely important. This will allow you to better understand what you can do to improve your chances of success. This is precisely what we will discuss now.

Let us first understand what the college wishes to accomplish. The college wants to enhance its reputation and prestige by producing graduates who become highly successful in their careers. The primary focus of the school is to admit candidates who show the greatest potential for success. Thus, each college develops its own set of metrics - both quantitative and qualitative - and their relative weights, referred to as the decision criteria, to maximize its own interests. While the metrics and their general relative importance are known, the precise weightings for the metrics are proprietary. Your composite, weighted performance on these metrics determines the outcome. While a lack of potential on one indicator may be compensated by your potential surmised through others, you must meet some minimum threshold level on all of them. For example, if the minimum score set by the school on an entrance exam is 60th percentile, and you do not meet that minimum, you are out of luck no matter what your academic performance is or what your letters of recommendation say.

The final decisions for admission and financial aid rely on an assessment of each of the key requirements outlined in Section 3.1. Let us understand how each one is judged.


3.2.1 Academic performance

Academic performance matters, and it matters a great deal. Your academic performance is not treated as it is in India. In India, your entrance exam score and ranking are everything - these override your academic performance, provided you meet the minimum academic qualifications. Such is not the case in America and Canada.

Needless to say, the higher your academic performance, the better are your chances. The quality of your education, namely the reputation of your school, where you demonstrated such performance also matters. For example, a score of 70 from an IIT may be considered far superior to a score of 90 from a no-name school. Even though your score is quantitative, it is exposed to a subjective evaluation. The schools in America and Canada may not know the quality and caliber of every school in India, but they are quite familiar with the top schools in India. For example, every admissions office in America and Canada knows of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

We donít have to tell you much about what you can do to improve your academic performance; it requires motivation, dedication, and hard work. If you are already done with your requisite studies for eligibility, your performance is what it is. If on the other hand, you are planning ahead and have some time before you complete the academic requirements, do your best to score the highest in your courses.


3.2.2 Score on Entrance Exam

Your entrance exam score is critical to your success. It is the only objective or quantitative input into the admissions process that is not exposed to subjective evaluation. This higher this quantitative measure the better. Sound preparation for the exam can improve your score substantially.

You can take the entrance exam more than once, but keep in mind that all scores will be transmitted to prospective colleges. The entrance exam is not a game of chance - a random outcome of a multiple-choice test. You should not keep taking the exam until you get what you might consider an acceptable or a good score. The test measures your knowledge and abilities. Unless you work hard to improve your knowledge and abilities, the score is unlikely to improve much. Taking the exam more than once would help you if you show a dramatic improvement. If your score improves only somewhat, it would confirm to the school the level of your abilities. Also keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the score would only go up, it can in fact go down.

We offer detailed information, guidance, and advice on entrance exams in Chapter 4.

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