Given that a majority of Indian candidates struggle with funding, it’s a no-brainer to accept an offer for a fully-funded MS in Canada, right?
Well, meet Harmeet Kaur (name changed), who rejected a fully-funded offer for MS Computer Science (Thesis-based) at a Top-5 University in Canada. Before we get to the point of why she did it, let’s try to understand first how she got a fully-funded MS in Canada.
- B.Tech Computer Science (minor in Chemistry) from a Premium Private University in India
- CGPA: 8.75
- ~1 year of experience at one of the Top 3 US Universities for Computer Science (in fact, it’s been no. 1 many times in the last decade) — we will call it University XYZ
- She also worked on research projects (remote and in-person) in Germany and Canada as well for more than a year
- One research publication
- Had experience as a Teaching Assistant (Data Structures and Algorithms) in her undergraduate college
- GRE: 317
Applications and Outcomes (Fall 2022)
As you can see, Harmeet had a pretty competitive profile.
However, she got rejections from some of the top schools including University XYZ. Harmeet not only had first-hand experience from XYZ, but she also had strong recommendations from the XYZ faculty member as well.
Harmeet received rejections from her top three choices – UC Berkeley, CMU, and the University of Washington.
Finally, just after Holi (2022), she received the admit email from UT Austin (among the top 10 in the US for computer science). They also gave her the RAship.
At that time, she didn’t have any established contact with any Professors at UT Austin. But, she went ahead to accept the offer and rejected the Canada offer (the fully-funded one).
You need to understand that Harmeet got rejections from schools where GRE was not required or optional. For UT Austin, GRE is mandatory. 317 is kind of average for CS applications. So, readers should keep in mind that it’s okay to not go crazy over the GRE exam. Read MS in USA without GRE for Fall 2023.
Now, we will get to the feedback section.
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MS in Canada and USA Admit with Funding: Q&A with Harmeet
1. What made you contact Stoodnt and sign up for the Application Review service?
I was looking at articles about how to write an effective SOP for the application when I came across one particular article I found really useful. So I contacted the author (Tanmoy) who is one of the consultants at Stoodnt. He, later on, helped me with the entire process.
2. What’s your feedback on the Application and/or SoP Review service?
I found it really helpful – – the overall service was excellent. There was room for changes that I wished to keep as well. I think the process is quite robust and flexible.
3. Did you find the pricing worth it – reasonable, expensive, or cheaper compared to other independent admissions consultants?
I think it is on the reasonable to expensive side. But I also did not really compare with other consultants. It was less of a deciding factor for me.
4. You had a few rejections. Is there anything different you could have done (more research, having a GRE score, applying earlier, SoP, or anything else)?
I think maybe undergraduate grades mattered as I applied to quite ambitious programs. I could have had a better GRE score.
5. What would be your advice for the applicants who are looking for MS-Thesis programs in the US and Canada?
I would suggest starting early and getting done with the GRE and contacting people for the LORs. Focus on SOPs and get them reviewed by as many people as possible, especially those who are currently at schools you wish to apply for.
Spend a significant time finding the right programs for you and have some backup programs in case you miss deadlines (which happened with me).
6. You had a fully-funded MS admission in Canada. Why did you opt for the US?
I guess because of job opportunities. I can still work in Canada afterward but maybe the other way around would be difficult. Also, the faculty and their research focus mattered to me a lot.
Editor’s Note for Further Reading: MS in USA vs MS in Canada
How I see this is that Harmeet already had solid research experience in her chosen field from an elite institute. Now, this is actually a double-edged sword. When you have such an experience, the evaluators expect a little more.
Harmeet and I had some disagreements with the SoP content. She had explained a little bit too much about the technicalities of her research. Now, this was something visible in her CV. Additionally, her research supervisor would have explained the same in the letters of recommendation.
As I have explained in my earlier blogs (and also in our videos), CV, SoP, and LoRs need to complement each other; and not necessarily repeat information.
Again, I am not saying that the SoP was the sole reason for her rejections from her top 3 choices. As Harmeet explained, her GPA and GRE could have been better.
Juggling Work and Applications
Harmeet was pretty much occupied with her research work. She had some tight deadlines with her research and publications. I feel this was another reason that prevented her to do some more self-reflection while working on the SoP.
Admissions at the top schools are always over-competitive. More often than not, the admission game is a subjective process. There is no definite recipe.
Good luck with your applications.
If you need help with your MS applications, feel free to contact us at email@example.com! You can also book a 30/60-minute 1-on1 session with me to get a headstart with your applications.