Dear Mentor:

Am I eligible for a good US college with these GRE scores?

Four years of undergraduate education in electrical engineering has broadened my perspective and sharpened my objective in life, as I stand on the threshold of pursuing a Masters Degree. I have to make an all important decision of choosing a field in which I intend to spend the rest of my life, hence I intend to pursue an MS degree in Electrical Engineering.

I have a good academic record. I have maintained a distinction (70% and above, in the University system of India) throughout all semesters. Apart from my graduation, I have taken courses in Advanced Diploma in Software Export Technology where I have again maintained above 75% throughout all modules. I was also awarded a Certificate of Merit since I secured 2nd Position in the entire region. As a result, I was offered a job as a Technology Trainer in the same Institution. I am currently working as a software developer, using Oracle as back-end and Visual Basic as a front-end tool. I have the confidence, diligence, and motivation to succeed in my chosen field.

I have got a GRE score of 1590 and I am taking my TOEFL on 15th July. So can you please tell me with good academics, a strong hold on technologies and a GRE score as mentioned above, if I eligible for admission to a good institution in the US?

I will be eagerly waiting for your response.

Renu Dayal, Mysore, India

Dear Renu Dayal:

Congratulations on your graduation. We know it takes a lot of effort, motivation, and determination to complete the engineering degree. You have done it!

Let us address the issue of your background and academic performance. Your performance is good, but it falls short of being exceptional. Without full knowledge of the reputation of your college and your detailed academic records, it is difficult to comment on your position relative to other prospective MS students. However, the GRE score does offer us the opportunity to comment on your chances, given that the GRE is a standardized test.

As you know, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) tests candidates on 3 dimensions: verbal ability, quantitative ability, and analytical ability. The scores for each dimension range from 200 to 800, thus the combined score ranges from 600 to 2400. The scores are relative to other candidates, and are interpreted as percentile ranking. Your GRE score of 1590 is roughly the mean or average performance. Barring other significant information, demonstrating substantially superior performance, your GRE score, generally speaking, is below the threshold of acceptance into an MS program in the US.

Here is some other information that you and our other readers may find helpful. The admission process in the US begins well in advance of the start of a program: 6 months to a year ahead of time. For example, the admissions process for the Fall (August-September) 2000 session began in September-October 1999. The process will be finalized in mid-summer 2000. Of course, a small number of admissions will continue to occur until the start of school in August-September 2000.

So the message to our readers is to start early if you want to get admitted into a US college or university. This would be particularly helpful if you are seeking financial support in the form of research or teaching assistantship. Note that international students are not eligible for student loans and many scholarships.

We wish you continued success Renu.

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