Dear Mentor:

With average grades but high GRE, what are my chances?

I did my BE [Bachelor of Engineering] in Electronics with 60% marks. I have 3 years of work experience. I took the GRE [Graduate Record Exam] recently and scored 2200: Verbal - 710, Quantitative - 780, Analytical - 710. What are my chances of admission with aid in a decent American university? I want to do MS in computer science.

Split Performance, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Dear Split Performance:

Admission into an MS in computer science and engineering programs is based on a set of selection criteria; the most important of which are your academic performance and your GRE score. Significantly superior performance on one element of the criteria can offset, to some extent, the not so good performance on another, but all criteria are relevant and important.

Your GRE performance is quite good. However, your academic performance can at best be characterized as average. Hopefully, your letters of recommendation would reflect your performance and abilities as demonstrated by your GRE score, not by your academic performance. You should make a strong case in your statement of purpose (SOP), or in an attached statement if the SOP is not required, for why the prospective graduate program should assess your abilities and competence to be those indicated by the GRE score.

You can use the iMahal College Finder in the iMahal Education Channel to identify the target colleges, with one caveat. The iMahal College Finder assumes that your performance on other selection criteria, including your academic performance, is similar to that reflected by your GRE score. Such is obviously not the case with you: your academic performance is average but your GRE score is well above average: in the high 90th percentile for Verbal and Quantitative and mid 80th percentile in Analytical. However, you must note that students with engineering backgrounds perform rather well on the Quantitative (average 710) and Analytical (average 618) parts of the GRE.

Adjust your expectations for the discrepancy in your GRE score and academic performance. You have a good shot at obtaining admission and securing financial aid for an MS in the US. But remember, no guarantees!

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