Dear Mentor:

How do I get admission and aid for graduate journalism?

I graduated in economics from Presidency College, Calcutta securing 54 per cent marks. I have a first class post graduate degree in Mass Communications from MCRC, Jamia. Could you tell me how recognised these institutes are in the US? Is CGPA [cumulative grade point average] calculated based on overall academic performance from class 10 onwards or does it only include the last two years of education? Do grad schools consider marks only in the relevant discipline for calculating GPA? Is the calculation of GPA different if you apply for a masters program vis-a-vis a PhD program? In this case, since I am applying for a masters in journalism to a US university and since most masters programs in the US insist only on a bachelors degree, would my marks in graduation (economics) hold more weight than my marks in post-graduation (mass communication)? How important is work experience when applying to a journalism school. I already have six months work ex with a business magazine. Apart from this, I have done freelance writing for some Indian publications. My long-term goal is to reach a top 10 grad school for journalism in the US. I cannot afford education abroad and would need full financial assistantship. Do grad schools confirm financial and teaching assistantships before joining? My GRE score is 2150: Verbal - 700, Quantitative - 800, Analytical - 650. I would be very grateful to you if you could evaluate my chances of getting into a top 10 journalism school as well as chances of obtaining a scholarship/ assistantship.

Info Thirsty, Calcutta, India

Dear Info Thirsty:

As you may know, iMahal has published An Authoritative Guide for Higher Studies in America and Canada. This guide addresses most of your questions, as well as many other relevant issues for international students.

The criteria for admissions and financial aid are multidimensional, in that they do not focus on just the name of your school, or your GPA, or your GRE score. Each school uses its own proprietary weighted combination of several criteria to arrive at the decisions. The iMahal Guide offers details about the typical criteria and what you can do to improve your chances of success.

The iMahal Guide also addresses how one calculates the GPA. The GPA is analogous to calculating your aggregate marks; both schemes are for calculating the overall performance for a particular program of studies. For example, your GPA for the Bachelor's degree is calculated separately from the GPA for your Master's degree. The GPA is not restricted to certain courses that you took in a program; it includes all courses. However, if you feel that you wish to make a better case for performance in a certain area, say journalism, or for performance in the later years of your program, you can certainly calculate the GPA according to the criteria. Calculations for GPA do not change whether you are applying for a Master's or PhD program.

Since prospective schools are reviewing the candidates on many dimensions, you should feel free to provide all information that would make your candidacy stronger. For example, you should succinctly include your work experience and make a case for why it should be relevant to your candidacy.

Your GRE score is good. Your chances for admission are good, and your chances for financial aid are reasonable. The iMahal Guide offers you information on how you should select colleges for admission and financial aid.

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