Close on the heels of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (UCIS) policy memorandum issued on February 22, 2018 that said its visa officers could seek detailed documentation and more evidence from firms to establish that they have specific assignments in a specialty field for the H-1B beneficiary, the Donald Trump Administration has made their second move towards protecting local jobs in the US and preventing them from moving off-shore. The Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) will be levied on companies with gross revenue of $500 million that outsource their work offshore to captive units. Effective January 2018, the rate of tax will be 5%, which will double to 10% in 2019. In parallel, the US has also considerably reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, thereby incentivising companies to hire more people in the US.

The impact of these issues is being felt by US firms and they are reviewing their plans to establish or expand their R&D centres and businesses in India and other countries. Similarly, Indian companies are finding it difficult to deploy skilled professionals through the H-1B route. While it is a known fact that there is a demand supply mismatch in the STEM fields, these policy reforms will result in a larger void that cannot be fulfilled by the local American work force. Hence, Trump’s three-pronged strategy to protect local jobs has come as a fresh wave of hope to thousands of Indian students, who are considering pursuing higher education in USA. With these developments, plum job opportunities have opened up for STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) aspirants. Therefore, pursuing higher studies in US universities has once again become a prime proposition for aspiring Indian students and professionals.

Given President Trump’s H-1B and visa policies, universities have experienced a lower enrolment from non-funded international students as evidenced by the steady drop in the number of F1 student visas issued. In 2017, the United States has seen a massive decline of 28% in the number of F1 student visas from India, which has led university admission officials to take proactive measures, including visiting India and evaluating students on ground as well as providing spot admissions. With Trump’s policy reforms, this could be a be a win-win situation for students as the competition to highly selective universities has reduced to some extent, thereby providing a greater opportunity to get into a better university, offering more job opportunities.

Considering that the USA is home to leading companies and innovations in the STEM field, a vibrant start-up culture, and enormous research opportunities at universities, getting an American degree far outweighs the education and research opportunities offered by institutions in other countries. Choosing to secure an American university degree will naturally bring in the best job opportunities globally. The state-of-the-art research facilities along with distinguished faculty, flexible course structure and excellent work opportunities through the STEM OPT, all make for a great learning experience. This is why American universities continue to draw Indian students to apply in large numbers. So if you desire to pursue top quality education, and be hand-picked by the best global organisations, then the USA will provide you with the best of these opportunities.

Meet our counsellors today who will clarify any doubts about the new policy reforms and guide you on how you could come up a winner in every way with an American degree and work-experience.

As computers revolutionise the world around us, spilling into every aspect of our lives, right from banking, financial markets, e-commerce, manufacturing, healthcare and many more sectors, the demand for computer technologists is on the rise. Similarly, several fields that intersect with Computer Science have surfaced, which require a combination of skill sets for successful execution. With students being absorbed in various roles in companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook as well as at start-ups and small and medium enterprises, these graduates having diverse backgrounds are very much in demand. The combination of skills has helped them take up prime positions in industries like bioinformatics, medicine, finance, telecommunications, media and many others.

As young aspirants contemplate switching over to Computer Science or allied fields like Data Science, Computer Engineering, MIS or Business Analytics, they are wracked by apprehension, self-doubt and a feeling of moving out of safe territory. This has dissuaded many from changing their fields after graduating, and they continue to work in an environment that does not provide job satisfaction. Well, the good news is that one can make a smooth transition with a little timely planning and effort towards imbibing the requisite skills. Pursuing a Master’s level program in Computer Science related field that suits your interests, could very well allow you to change to the Computer Science field.

With more universities recognising this need and filling this gap by offering programs that are flexible regarding program pre-requisites, aspiring students can now take up this opportunity to pursue such a program and give wings to a career in fields allied to Computer Science like Data Science, MIS, Computer Engineering, Business Analytics. However, you will need to build your profile appropriately to be able to pursue a program in the Computer Science allied field. The work experience and training you currently have can help you, but you may need to do more to transition to the Computer Science or allied field. Focussing on the following aspects and systematically planning each step would indeed help your transition become a smooth and stress-free process: 

  1. Chalking out your career goals and working backwards towards choosing a suitable program will help you identify your interests and pursue a program that would be extremely beneficial as you launch yourself in a new field.
  2. Check out your eligibility to apply to this program. Depending on the prerequisites, you need to build your profile in such a way that you meet the requirements of the program. Courses in Mathematics, Operating Systems, Data Structures, etc. that you may have covered during your college studies may help you meet some of these prerequisites. You then need to show the test result of that course. Sometimes universities ask you to take these prerequisite courses before the commencement of the graduate program.
  3. Gaining professional experience in the form of internship or a job role that is relevant to the program of your choice would increase your eligibility for the program. It highlights your capabilities in the particular domain and proves your readiness to take up the relevant Master’s program in a CS allied field.
  4. A strong Statement of Purpose (SOP) that shows your passion and interest in CS allied fields like Computer Engineering, Business Analytics, MIS or Data Science would work in your favour. If your reason is valid and acceptable enough, then Universities would definitely give you admission to the said program. Moreover, all the application essays need to be well-thought out and well-written.

Given below is information that would be beneficial in preparing for a career in a CS allied field:

Computer and Information Technology (MCIT)

Master’s of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) Designed for students and professionals with minimal or no prior computing experience or formal education in Computer Science.
Benefit Students and professionals who desire to establish or advance a career in information technology or even prepare for doctoral studies in Computer Science
On Graduation Emerge as well-informed and competent professionals in a prime position in the job market. Excellent placements. Summer internships also lead to full-time employment opportunities.


Basics in Software Development, Computer Systems, Mathematical fundamentals of Computer Science, Data Structures, Software Design, Computer Systems Programming, Algorithms and Computation.

Data Science

Data Science Prepares students for a wide range of data-centric careers, whether in technology and engineering, policy-making, consulting or science. 


Benefits Students and professionals who desire to establish or advance a career in Data Science or even prepare for doctoral studies in Data Science.
On Graduation Apply artificial intelligence techniques to a problem, build a computational model of real-world phenomena, statistically test a hypothesis, or analyze structured, textual or image data, apply data science and data analysis techniques to arrive at decisions.

o   Undergraduate degree in economics, mathematics, engineering, business, computer science, statistics, or related field is preferred, but not required.

o   Demonstrated proficiency in computer programming in at least one of the following computer programming languages is required: Python, R, C, C++, C#, VB, Java, Pascal, or Fortran. Academic transcripts, certificates from online courses, or work experience may be cited to meet this requirement. 

o   At least one semester college level calculus course with a grade “C” or better required.


Relevant Work Experience Not required, but strongly preferred.


MIS Prepares students for challenging careers in the application of IT to analyze, design, implement, and manage IT applications and strategies to help solve business problems. MIS professionals are the “communication bridges” between IT and the business community. They first learn business processes and then analyze how to improve the processes using IT.
Benefits They can work in risk management, technology strategy, information management or project management
On Graduation They can work as a technology analyst, business analyst, project manager, or enterprise architect.
  • A course in programming (Java, C#, VB, etc.)
  • A database course
  • A course in systems analysis and design
  • A course in business data communications


Relevant Work Experience Strongly preferred.

Business Analytics

Business Analytics A comprehensive program for aspirants with an analytical bent of mind and a keen interest in business. Applicants should be prepared for intense course work, a proclivity for mathematics and programming, as well as basic understanding of business fundamentals.
Benefits They can work at the intersection of business management and technology analysis to enhance smooth operation.
On Graduation Gain expertise to turn data into useable information for all levels of an organization.
Prerequisites Undergraduate degree in economics, mathematics, engineering, business, computer science, statistics, or related field is preferred, but not required.

Demonstrated proficiency in computer programming in at least one of the following computer programming languages is required: Python, R, C, C++, C#, VB, Java, Pascal, or Fortran. Academic transcripts, certificates from online courses, or work experience may be cited to meet this requirement. 

At least one-semester college level calculus course with a grade “C” or better required.

Work Experience Not required, but strongly preferred.

While the above information will lend clarity about profile building and enhance your chances of securing admission in the right college/university, you need to keep in mind that the competition will be tough for non-Computer Science students aiming to gain entry into the graduate CS allied programs. With proper planning and the right profile building activity completed in advance, you can achieve your goal of getting admission in the CS program and pursuing a career as a competent Computer Science professional.

Average GRE Scores for each University

Average GRE Scores for each University

Admission to the Master’s program in US universities depends on several criteria. Apart from focusing on academics, universities give importance to GRE scores. Doing well in your GRE increases the weightage of your application. The best definition of a good GRE score is that it should get you into your school of choice.

Most colleges have a cut off GRE score, or a minimum score that you must meet for your application to be considered. Sometimes meeting this cut off score is enough for the school to feel confident about your quantitative, verbal and analytical skills, but it is recommended that you score higher than the cut-off score to improve your chances of being admitted. Some schools are more accommodating and flexible. They assess your overall profile if you fail to meet their GRE cut-off score. Hence, before you begin studying for the GRE, it’s a good idea to know the score that you need to achieve. Here is a list of the minimum score required by some universities in the USA. Average GRE Scores for each University

Here is the list of average GRE scores for each university for Engineering Master’s program for the year     2016-17. Average GRE Scores for each University

UNIVERSITY Avg Quants Avg Verbal Avg AWA
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 165 160 4.3
2 Stanford University 167 159 4.2
3 Georgia Institute of Technology 164 155 3.9
4 University of California Berkeley 165 157 4.2
5 California Institute of Technology 169 161 4
6 Carnegie Mellon University 166 155 3.6
7 University of Michigan—​Ann Arbor  167 154 3.4
8 Purdue University—​West Lafayette  164 154 3.7
9 University of Illinois—​Urbana-​Champaign  165 155
10 University of Texas—​Austin (Cockrell)  163 156 3.9
11 Texas A&M University—​College Station  164 153 3.5
12 University of Southern California (Viterbi)  166 151 3.4
13 Columbia University (Fu Foundation)  167 155 4
14 Cornell University  165 155 3.6
15 University of California—​San Diego (Jacobs)  166 155 3.6
16 University of California—​Los Angeles (Samueli)  166 154 3.7
17 Princeton University  166 162 4.5
18 University of Wisconsin—​Madison  164 155 3.8
19 Johns Hopkins University (Whiting)  167 154 3.5
20 Northwestern University (McCormick)  166 152 4
21 University of California—​Santa Barbara 163 155 3.7
22 University of Pennsylvania  165 156 3.7
23 Harvard University  166 160 4.1
24 University of Maryland—​College Park (Clark)  163 152 3.5
25 North Carolina State University  164 154 4
26 University of Washington  163 156 3.8
27 University of Minnesota—​Twin Cities 163 153 3.6
28 Virginia Tech  162 154
29 Duke University (Pratt)  164 156 3.8
30 Rice University (Brown)  167 154 3.3
31 Ohio State University  164 153 3.6
32 Pennsylvania State University—​University Park  162 152 3.5
33 University of Colorado—​Boulder  161 154 3.7
34 Boston University 164 154 3.6
35 University of California—​Davis  163 154 3.7
36 Vanderbilt University  165 151 3.2
37 University of California—​Irvine (Samueli)  164 151 3.3
38 Northeastern University  162 150 3
39 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute  163 156 3.9
40 University of Virginia  165 154 4
41 Arizona State University (Fulton)  162 150 3.4
42 University of Florida  163 152 3.6
43 University of Pittsburgh (Swanson)  162 149 3.3
44 Iowa State University  168 156 3.5
45 New York University (Tandon)  164 150
46 University of Rochester  166 152 3.3
47 University of Delaware  168 155 3.2

Average GRE Scores for each University

How to Build your Profile for Summer Internships


As you gear up, for a very crucial phase in your life, I wanted to stress on one thing that lingers around the back of your minds, i.e. internships. I am aware this would not be your first priority right now, but this would most certainly exist in the back of your heads. So here are some of the things that can probably help you be up to speed when you land in the U.S.:  Build your profile for Summer Internships

One Page Resume:
When you applied for your respective master’s programs you had made a two page resume, which was comprehensive and probably covered your extra-curricular activities to the smallest projects that you might have done in your first year.  YOU WILL NOT NEED IT WHEN YOU APPLY for INTERNSHIPS. Without exception, every employer seeks a one page resume, weather you have worked for one year or seven. So start working towards a one page resume. I can tell you, your first draft will not be good enough. You will be very busy in settling down at your new location and with university, to work on a new resume. So start early!! Make the first draft, get an opinion and make n drafts till you hit the optimal draft. Build your profile for Summer Internships

Remember, your resume is dynamic and will change as you progress into your program. But as of now, companies will come to your campus, before you can even finish your first month, so better to be prepared.  
I went to a career fair on the second day of my Master’s program.

The career specific resume:
Remember, there is no generic resume for any role. Have specific resumes that can cater to each role. So for instance, if you want to pursue an internship as a data analyst, then have a resume that will cater to that. If you want to work in QA, make a QA specific resume and if you want to get into software development, make one for it. There are many roles this can apply to, but I mentioned the three examples above, to drive home a point. It would be a lot easier for you to modify, tailored resumes as opposed to a generic one page resume. Build your Profile for Summer Internships

Career Centers:
Now this, can vary from university to university, but remember, your career counsellors at the university may also be able to help you with your resumes if you have doubts. Be sure to interact with them, and respectfully ask them for assistance, and they will be more than willing to assist you. In many universities, they may even schedule a mock interview with you. Make full use of this and you may be more confident.

Career Fairs:
Now, you may hear many mixed reviews about these, but I can tell you, this is one area where you can interact with prospective employers and gain some insight into a company. Speak to people here, carry the one page resumes that you made here and remember, to take the visiting card of whoever you meet. Many will not carry them and will simply ask you to note down an email id. Make note of it and at the end of the day, send a small thank you message to them, stating it was a very valuable conversation and how much you look forward to be a part of that company et al. If they give you a visiting card, DO NOT CALL THEM. Many have made this mistake and it will almost always didn’t end well. Build your profile for Summer Internships

I tried this at one career fair, where I made my visiting card. One benefit of this is that even if the person has a visiting card and he/she may not want to give you one and you give them your visiting card, as professional courtesy, they will be forced to give you their visiting card in return. If they don’t have one, then they will tell you, and you can be assured that they genuinely may not have one.

Information Sessions:
An information session is where a company will come to the college and tell you about themselves and what they are looking for in students. Unlike a career fair, this usually involves staff from entry level associates right up to Vice Presidents and Partners. And you will have people who RSVP for this. So you stand to have a guaranteed interaction with senior staff members.
This is particularly important. In a career fair, there will be people from all the programs at your university. You may not be able to interact with all of the company representatives and discuss your prospects at their company. You may at the most meet a recruiter or some current associates. You want to make an impact, head down to an information session and interact with the managers. I was able to interact with a senior manager and I got his visiting card, when others simply kept their email IDs on a badge. Take a guess how I did that. I did not get an internship at that company, but I took one step towards expanding my network. Build your Profile for Summer Internships  

The time of an internship:
Now this is something that was never mentioned when I arrived in the states. When do people get an internship? I am sure this question may have not come on your mind, since you may have only thought of how do I get one and not when will I get one. Let me tell you something, some people may get an internship in the first semester itself. You didn’t get one in the first semester? Do not worry. There were many who bagged one in the start of the second semester. Didn’t get one then? I can tell of some who got it when they were giving their midterm exams. Still worried? I can tell you about some people who got it towards the end of the second semester. Still worried? I got my internship a week AFTER I finished my second semester. Still not convinced? I have two friends who got an internship last week, and we are in mid-June. So if anybody tells you that you can only get an internship in the first semester, think otherwise.

 Build your Profile for Summer Internships

Remember, it is not when you bag an internship. You achieve nothing by being the first to get an internship or you lose nothing by being the last. You have to get to the finish line. That is it.

With this, I wish you the very best for your upcoming phase in life. I hope you have a great trip to the states.

Visa Interview: First Name Issues

“What is FNU?” Visa Interview: First Name Issues
A lot of students have been asking us if having ‘FNU’ on the visa will lead to difficulties in the US. Hence we decided to write a detailed article explaining the exact meaning of FNU.  
“If you have only one name or if your name appears in only one line in your passport, then on the visa your full name will only be printed in the surname field and “First Name Unknown”, or “FNU,” will be printed in the given name field.” — (Taken from Visa Interview: First Name Issues

To begin with, having FNU on your docs is not really a concern. The concern here is whether your passport and visa stamp matches your i-20 or not.  In the US, your I-20 is the most important document that shows your legal status as an f1 status and your passport is your ID.  While registering for important documents like SSN or driving licence, they will check these docs.

Now, due to various cultural norms, there are variations in the way names are written.  In many cultures, students do not have a last name, but use their father’s name as surname—
E.g.—Shriraj Sukumaran Visa Interview: First Name Issues

Usually, their names appear in one line on their passport and the surname field is blank, something like this—>
Given Name— Shriraj Sukumaran
Last name—

International Visa rules do not allow the surname field to be left blank, so the officers would put your entire name in the surname column and mention FNU (First Name Unknown) in the given name section.
When this happens, your visa will have your name like this.
First name/Given name–FNU
Last name—Shriraj Sukumaran

However, when you initially applied on the university website, you might have given your name in the First-Name –Last Name format.  Something like this—
First Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

Basically there will be a discrepancy between your visa stamp and passport as well as your i-20. Several students who have faced this issue, have done one of the following things:

1. Before filling the DS-160, they changed their passport name to “Name- Last name” format so that it matches with the I-20.
Given Name—Shriraj
Last Name- Sukumaran

They would avoid any future issues with documents in USA because i20 and passport name would be identical. (We would advise this only if you have enough time. If you need to book your visa dates immediately then you need your passport.)

2. Changed their I20 name –
Since last name is compulsory for visa, they asked the university to use ‘FNU’ everywhere in their First name on the i-20 and mention their full name in the surname column.  The I-20 name would then match their Visa and passport.
First Name—FNU
Last name – Shriraj Sukumaran

(again, changing the details on i-20 would need you to contact your DSO and depending on their efficiency, it could take anywhere between 1-4 weeks. You need your i-20 to go for the visa interview, so plan accordingly)

3. Did not make any changes in I-20 and passport name and decided to change the details later, after going to USA. You can change i-20 details at your college and passport details at the embassy in US.
If time permits, it is definitely advisable to work towards bringing about uniformity in the format of your name in these documents while you are in India. Your I-20 and passport are important documents and ensuring uniformity can save you a lot of hassles later on. Visa Interview: First Name Issues

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai

You are working your fingers to the bone to get a perfect score and your mock test results are reflecting the dedicated efforts you are putting in. But this is not the only groundwork you need to do before taking standardized tests like GRE and TOEFL — it’s equally important to select the right test center. While the GRE and TOEFL test are administered all year-round at various test centers across the country, it is crucial that you select your test centres prudently. To save you from the pain of physically visiting the centres across Mumbai, Collegepond has put in extensive effort in researching GRE and TOEFL centers for you by conducting surveys based on several parameters for each test center- Goregaon, Andheri, Mulund, Nerul and Vile Parle. Staff cooperation, seating comfort, punctuality, ease of registration, absence of technical difficulties, proper stationery, quality of headphones and appropriate space with regards to seating arrangements are parameters we’ve measured for you. Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 1

Got a sudden doubt regarding your test and don’t know what the solution is? A question seems a bit foggy? The graph above shows the attitude of the staff towards test-takers in each center. Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai
Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 2

 Your mental faculties might be fully focused on your test but your physical comfort could affect your test taking abilities. The graph above tells you which of the five centers had comfortable seating while taking the test.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 3

You are frantically racing against time and due to mismanagement of something logistical your nerves can’t cope. The graph above displays which centers take punctuality seriously.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 4

Pre-test jitters are no joke. The ratings above show if there was any difficulty while providing your passport and other details during the registration process.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 5

Silence is golden, especially so while taking an exam. We asked our test takers if they were able to complete the test without any interruptions or technical difficulties, and here’s what they said.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 6

You don’t want something like a broken pencil to mess with you in the middle of an important question. Our test takers gave us reports on whether they got proper stationery, which we have displayed above.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 7

Imagine going wrong because of faulty equipment. We asked our test takers if their headphones and other equipment were of usable quality, which the ratings above clearly indicate.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 8

You’ve put in hours of sweat and blood into your test prep and you end up sitting in a space that makes you so claustrophobic you can’t focus. We evaluated parameters such as the test room being cramped with computers and students being too close to each other, results of which can be seen above.

Student feedbacks on GRE and TOEFL Exam Centres in Mumbai 9

Your test needs to go smoothly from start to finish. Our test takers gave us feedback on whether they were able to resume their test after the break without any issue, results of which are visible above.


| Sample SOP for Immunology- This a Statement of Purpose of a student who got admitted to Harvard for the Masters in Immunology program. |
Sample SOP for Immunology

FIRST DRAFT of the SOP given by the Student:Sample SOP for Immunology

I was just 5 years old when my school taught us about sharing and how it made everyone happy. I decided to put it to use immediately and went to my grandmother with a chocolate. I offered her half the chocolate but to my surprise she turned it down. As a child, the fact that someone could refuse chocolate was enough to drive me crazy. But then she explained to me that she had an illness called diabetes and because of this she could not eat any sweets. This is when I began to notice that she did some very strange things. While the very thought of needles and injections would fill me with dread, she would prick her finger on a “machine” and often go to the hospital to take injections of “medicine”. This made me feel very sorry for her and made me think that maybe such medications could be given in different ways without causing so much discomfort to the patients. Although I did not know it, this would be the main reason for me to enter into the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

…. Only Collegepond students have access to the complete SOP Sample SOP for Immunology

FINAL DRAFT of the SOP created by the Counsellor:Sample SOP for Immunology

As I listlessly laid down on the hospital bed after being diagnosed with dengue, my mind was plagued with defeating thoughts of no treatment for this illness. The death toll due to dengue in Mumbai was on the rise as this deadly disease was caused by not one but four individual viruses that made the development of vaccines and medicines a herculean task. As my platelet count dropped to life-threateningly low of 30 thousand, I resolved in my heart to fight back to life and find fundamental solutions for terminal diseases such as this. My career goal is to use my knowledge and expertise to improve treatment for epidemics like dengue, Ebola and diseases like AIDS that cause the entire world to panic. To this end, I wish to pursue Masters in Microbiology and Immunology from prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Sample SOP for Immunology

…. Only Collegepond students have access to the complete SOP

Want to create an exceptional SOP that gets you into your ambitious university? Meet our admission counsellors for guidance. Click here to book an appointment.


| Sample SOP for CS- This a Statement of Purpose of a student who got admitted to New York University Tandon School of Engineering for the Masters in CS program. |
Sample SOP for MS in CS

FIRST DRAFT of the SOP given by the Student:Sample SOP for MS in CS

The fruits of technological advances are conspicuously manifested into a cell phone in every pocket and a computer in every backpack but what’s less noticeable is the information that’s being generated along with these advances. With the huge amount of data being accumulated by the day, we can very well justify that we are living in a data-driven era and every day we face a data related problem. Just like every single thing in this universe has been bitten by the bug called evolution so has data, from being measured in bits and bytes the term of measurement has undergone a metamorphosis to an extent that we have units like petabytes and exabytes to measure the tidal wave of data being generated which can also be called as the Big data. I have been fascinated with the concept information and data ever since I played Scotlandyard. This game is all about finding the location of Mr. X, you need to work with all the pieces of information in your hand in such a way that when all the pieces come together they fit perfectly to solve the puzzle. This generated a sense of thrill in me with all the iterative trial and error methodologies, if I went wrong I would spend the entire day thinking about how I went wrong and how close I was to finding Mr. X. This made me realize that every data has the potential to reveal secrets if only we were willing to listen to it. Sample SOP for MS in CS

Today when I look back I realize that Scotlandyard is nothing but an analytical puzzle masquerading as a board game. Being curious and analytical by nature choosing Data Science as a major came naturally to me. As one chapter of my education ends and I open the door towards another I don’t see a destination as apt as your university to hone my analytical skills and broaden the horizons of my knowledge by giving me a more competitive and global platform (environment). I want to completely surrender myself to the field of Data science as data for me is a maze of information, and, I would like to apply my curious and perceptive acumen to scurry my way out from the redundant data towards the required information; Curiosity killed the cat! They say, but I think I’ll survive as my undergraduate education has laid a firm foundation to overcome the challenges I might face in my educational voyage. Sample SOP for MS in CS

As an undergraduate student I excelled in subjects like Data Structures and Algorithms, Data Mining and Business Intelligence, Database management, Advanced Database management and math scoring an average of 8/10 in all of these subjects. I have also obtained an award for scoring an absolute 10/10 in the subject of mathematics. These were the subjects that especially stimulated my interest in Data science as the practical sessions conducted for these courses awarded me the freedom to apply my logical skills and developed my aptitude towards analyzing a problem. These subjects also enhanced my programming skills in languages such as C, C++ and Java to an extent where I could create my own algorithms to find my way out of a problem definition, this is the part I enjoyed the most as I had to look into various facets and delve into various perceptions to come up with an optimal solution. Besides the practicals, the theoretical part initiated various concepts relating to storage and retrieval of huge amounts of data from a data warehouse as well as the operations that can be performed on them; these concepts intrigued me and acted as a strong driver for research on Data science as a subject. I deeply enjoyed the nature of these subjects as you just have to play around with a given set of information and that inculcated in me an enhanced reasoning expertise as well as a thorough understanding of how to work with data and garner knowledge from the vast spread of information. In addition to the skills conceived in me I developed a strong sense of appreciation towards the wide scope of Data Science as a subject stretching from business to healthcare and the infinite opportunities of further studies that it is going to provide me. Sample SOP for MS in CS

The seesaw of my educational career has been perfectly balanced with the right amount of extra curricular activities and project works along with my academics. I have had the opportunity to broaden my ken of knowledge and expertise through various projects during my undergraduate course. These projects helped me achieve a practical view of the theoretical subjects. I have been fortunate to be a part of projects in subjects like; Database management system where me and my group developed a database of a Drugstore storing the names of various drugstores along with the names of all kinds of drugs and their prices using the MySql database and fired queries to obtain relevant information, the fired queries had to deal with various constraints and accordingly give a relevant output. We also had computer graphics as a subject where me and my group developed an animated cartoon character that sat on a bench eating a doughnut and sipping a soda, this project was developed using blender which was a new software to us altogether. I also had web programming as one of the subjects in my undergraduate course and here we had a project to build a website so my group decided to build a website emulating Indian Tourism, we used languages like HTML, Css, Javascript, Jquery, we also used databases to transform the project into a dynamic website. All the above projects were very well received by the respective teachers. Currently I am working on my final year project which is 3D geometry using augmented reality; here we wish to implement an android application for teaching students 3D geometry using software like Unity 3D and Vuforia. My projects show diversity in their domain but they are all connected to each other with the fine thread of thirst for knowledge. These projects have instilled in me a strong sense of team spirit and helped me balance my temperament while working with different kinds of people. Apart from the academic perspective the projects have developed my understanding of the industrial world and helped me rank myself based on my skills and recognize my weak links. Sample SOP for MS in CS

I have made a genuine effort to break through the walls of the classroom and experience the outside world by taking part in extra-curricular activities as well as social services. I took part in the inter department dance competition held by my college; it was a group event and my group stood 6th in the entire college. I have also been actively involved in my college fest TRINITY as a creatives team member and was selected as the creatives team head the following year because of my innovative ideas and diligence towards the fest. Being a part of the fest instilled in me a sense of responsibility, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me tackle complex situations. It also developed my leadership skills as being the head I had to lead the team, motivate them and nurture their minds into thinking creatively. I even volunteered to celebrate republic day at an orphanage as a part of a NSS task, here I interacted with many orphan kids; we spent an entire day with the kids and played a lot of games together. This volunteering work developed my communication skills as I had to deal with kids having different frequency and also enhanced my confidence among people. I also volunteered for the clean the beach drive which made me recognize my responsibility towards the community. All these new experiences have shaped me in some way or the other and have made me strong to live up to the challenges of the new environment that I am heading towards. Sample SOP for MS in CS

Just like Martin Luther, I have a dream, to work in companies like Google, Facebook , Paypal where I would get a chance to work with one of the best data scientists and hone my analytical skills. Then I plan to apply that knowledge to the data science industry in my native country, where tough the hype about the industry is prevalent but the actual implementation is still in its nurturing stage. The only thing that could bridge the gap between my skills and my dream is your university, because I believe your university could award me with the power to carry forward this data driven era and highlight my native country as one of the leading data science industries in the world. As the university adorns me with knowledge and shapes me into a fine structure I would definitely like to give back to the university by actively participating in research works that would bring credibility to the institution as well as adorn other students with the skill sets I have gained, keeping the pyre of education burning through eternity. Sample SOP for MS in CS

FINAL DRAFT of the SOP created by the Counsellor:Sample SOP for MS in CS

“My life is better…. I bought a cow and used the remaining money to pay bail for my brother-in-law”, said Maureen, a 19-year old mother of one, when the GiveDirectly team followed up with her. Maureen is just one of the several thousands of people whose life was touched by GiveDirectly, a non-profit organization that uses mobile devices to transfer cash to low-income families in certain parts of Africa. The data scientists working at GiveDirectly used a completely novel approach comprising of four steps- Target, Audit, Transfer, and Monitor to facilitate this gracious endeavour. The colour of the roof acted as a parameter as they had already concluded that people with metal roofs were well to do as compared to people with thatched roofs. Using Google Maps, they would identify the location of a thatched roofed house. Then, the located house goes through an algorithmic image verification process to determine the level of poverty. Once the house has been identified as a genuinely intended beneficiary, the recipients obtain an SMS alert, post which they collect their money from the nearest mobile money agent. Finally, the recipients are monitored for successful delivery. The ingenious approach helped GiveDirectly eliminate manual inspection costs and help more families in need. A family in financial crisis could easily get money in an average of 32 minutes. Sample SOP for MS in CS

Reading about such interesting applications was when my fascination with the concept of data burgeoned. ‘If you torture the data long enough, it will confess’- I realized how true this statement of Ronald Coase was. With respect to making a wholesome career in this field, I intend on enrolling for the Master’s program in Computer Science at Stony Brook University. Graduating with a strong technical background after my Masters, I wish to establish myself as a competent Data Scientist, working with companies like Paypal, Facebook and Alphabet. In the long run, I intend to leverage the expertise gained through such impactful professional experiences to provide consultancy services to altruistic ventures like GiveDirectly that are working to make a difference in the lives of people in developing countries. Sample SOP for MS in CS

My undergraduate degree provided exposure to a multifaceted curriculum, thus laying a sound foundation for my plans for graduate studies. I gained in-depth awareness about concepts in calculus and statistical analysis through multiple courses in Applied Mathematics. Also, the courses in Data Structures and Algorithms, and Data Mining and Business Intelligence introduced me to different techniques for conducting searches, pre-processing data, as well as using clustering, classification and regression algorithms. In addition, the courses related to database management helped me gain knowledge about the nuances involved in storage and retrieval of copious amounts of data and normalizing it. Particularly significant was the course in Artificial Intelligence during which I learnt how to impart human-like thinking and decision-making capabilities to artificial agents through the use of techniques like partial order planning, forward and backward chaining, as well as search techniques like hill climbing, A* and simulated annealing. During the tenure of my undergraduate studies, I gained expertise in programming with C, C++, Java, and MATLAB and also actively participated in coding competitions on CodeChef and Hackerrank platforms. Having completed courses on Python and R programming at Coursera, I am currently pursuing an Oracle certification course on Advanced and Core Java to update my programming skills.

With my growing interest in the field of data science, I ventured into writing a Review paper on Security Intelligence with Big Data Analytics. The paper dealt with the working of Big Data Analytics and its usefulness in enterprise security by describing various intelligent software for security, and then preparing a comparative study on the two most widely used software developed by IBM called the IBM QRadar and RSA. The paper’s main aim was to describe how Big Data Analytics helps track the anomaly in operations performed on a company’s data to identify a potential intruder, even though the pattern of the anomaly might be alien in terms of previous records. The paper has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering. Sample SOP for MS in CS

Projects during the undergraduate program served to broaden my domain knowledge through application of classroom concepts. One of them involved developing an aggregator website for pharmacies which enabled a user to locate the nearest and cheapest drugstore, check the available medications and their prices, and place orders. The database for the project was developed in MySql, and the front-end was designed using HTML and CSS. This project gave me my first brush with database functionalities and enhanced my skills in operations relating to databases. Sample SOP for CS

Currently, I am working on my senior year project titled ‘3D Geometry using Augmented Reality’ which aims to develop an Android teaching-aid application using the Unity 3D and Vuforia software. The application will scan a drawing of a 3D figure that will act as a marker. This figure will get augmented on the screen and will provide the user with various functions to perform on the figure to develop a better understanding of the figure. The application also provides real-time videos and test series to evaluate an individual’s performance.

To develop a well-rounded personality, I actively engaged in various extra-curricular activities. I was a part of the inter-department dance competition held during my college festival ‘TRINITY’, a group event where we were awarded the 4th place in the entire college. Due to my innovative thought-process and technical skills, I managed to get selected as Head of the 50-member Creative Team for TRINITY where I was involved in developing the festival website. Through my creative inputs regarding website graphics, we were able to attract significant online traffic and registrations. As part of the National Service Scheme, I have organized several beach cleaning drives, blood donation campaigns, and campaigns to spread literacy among underprivileged children. Rewarding experiences such as these helped to develop my team and leadership skills, and the abilities to convincingly negotiate, resolve conflicts, and empathize with people. Sample SOP for MS in CS

At this stage, I believe pursuing a Master’s degree with focus on Data Science would catalyze my career progress, and the program offered at the Stony Brook University is perfectly tailored to my needs. I look forward to gaining a competitive edge through deepening my understanding of various statistical and analytical techniques and upgrading my technical skills through the well-structured curriculum. I am excited at the prospect of learning under erudite faculty like Professor Steven Skiena, whose numerous projects and research in the field of Sentiment, Text and Data Analysis has left me fascinated. Given a chance, I would hope to involve myself in his ongoing research endeavours. The excellent research facilities like the Data Science Lab would facilitate my research pursuits in my fields of interest like Data Mining, Data Analysis and Big Data. I look forward to mutually benefitting interactions with peers from culturally diverse backgrounds that would serve to broaden my perspective. Sample SOP for MS in CS

I hope the Admissions Committee recognizes my drive to excel in my academic and professional undertakings and issues an affirmative response. The honour of being associated with such an esteemed institution would be an additional motivation as I move towards realization of my ambitions. Sample SOP for MS in CS

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Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US – an expert opinion by Jimeet Sanghavi

Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US

There is a mass hysteria prevailing in the international students’ community in view of the recent Executive Order on Temporary Immigration Ban on seven countries and proposed changes to the H-1B bill. Let’s understand how these developments can impact Indian students aspiring for higher education in the US.

Firstly, while the EO curtails immigration from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, the courts have overruled this EO order recently. Similarly, the refugee clause will not apply to Indians as well. Indian students going on F1 Visas, therefore, need not worry.

Moving onto the topic that has everyone on the edge of their seats (moreso, than the NaMo demonetisation effect) – the legislation on H1B (employment) visas. Before we discuss the impact, let’s understand what the H1B visa does – it allows you to work “post” the OPT (Optional Practical Training) period. After the completion of the college program, a student is entitled to work on OPT for upto 12 months for non-STEM and upto 36 months for STEM courses. Thus, a STEM student can work upto THREE years (irrespective of H1B application), which usually is more than enough to not just recover the fees and the loan but also set-up a strong foundation to build upon later.

Thinking from a recruiter’s point of view, if there is uncertainty in the regulations, then the company would be more keen on recruiting interns and people on OPT than on H1B. The OPT does not have a minimum salary requirement as compared to H-1Bs under the proposed regulations. This in turn will increase the opportunities for fresh graduates.

Lets try to decipher a few hidden clauses of the new legislation. Now, the proposed legislation on the floor in the Congress for H1B eligibility prioritizes market-based allocation of H-1B visas for institutions willing to pay 2x of the wage calculated by a survey. Estimates are that the annual salary will amount to a minimum of approximately US$130,000 per year. While the legislation is yet to be finalized, here is why even these rules should not be a cause of grave concern for Indian students:

a) Various such proposals have been floated previously unsuccessfully.

b) The current visa requirements mandate Indian students to prove their indisposition towards migrating to the US permanently. However, the new H1B leaves scope for a “dual intent” which means F1 visas may not be denied on the basis of the student’s intention to migrate. The transition from F1 to H1B in that sense should be lot smoother now.

c) The new H1B rules shall eliminate the ‘country based’ allocation earlier available to ‘Chile’ and ‘Singapore’ thereby creating more opportunity for Indian students.

d) The salary cap of $130,000 on H1B will be applicable to only those companies who have more than 15% employees on H1B visa – this will refrain a few particular companies (read – the beneficiaries of outsourcing policies) to exhaust the quota via the H1B lottery system and open up more opportunities for other companies and startups.

e) The following tweet by Trump talks of his intention to create more new businesses, which translates to more jobs. The new H1B will cut down ‘hoarding’ of talent by a few companies and help small businesses in hiring talented individuals.

Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US

Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US

f) The effect of the proposal will predominantly be felt by those companies who hire Indians on H1B and L1 visas for US-based projects without paying them the salaries that an American University-trained graduate (India-based or otherwise) is in a position to command. The effect thus, will be felt more on a corporate level and not at an employee level, and the Indian students aspiring for American education should not be too concerned with this move by President Trump.

g) The OPT enables the student to work for a total of three years in the US after completion of their Masters. Many of the students who complete their Masters get a starting salary in the range of US$85,000 to US$95,000. Having gained three years of work experience, it is natural for these students to expect the salary in range of eligibility criteria decided for obtaining H1B visa. If the student has successfully proven his mettle to his employer, the employer will not hesitate in rewarding the employee with compensation that is above the minimum amount required to obtain the visa.

g) Since the proposed H1B bill aims at leveling the playing field and curbing companies to outsource jobs, it is unlikely that these vacant positions will be filled by the existing workforce. This will create more opportunities for Indian students available under OPT option.

i) If the reports are to be believed, U.S. colleges will end up losing close $700 million of their annual revenue if Indians decide to explore other avenues. This move can significantly impact US’s undisputed standing as the top study destination. University Presidents are aware of these dire implications and are trying their best to chalk out ways to attract students to the US shores, and in a bid to do so they are likely to ease out the fiercely competitive admission process. The US is known for its inclusive education system and their commitment to diversity. With the ban on seven Muslim countries, chances of Indian applicants being accepted is likely to move up a notch. In fact, we have seen better results so far this year than the previous year in terms of the admits the students have got at Collegepond.

Many brilliant innovations in the US are driven by immigrants. It is a startling fact that all the six American who bagged the Nobel prize in 2016 were immigrants! A large number of international students study STEM courses and contribute significantly to research and economic growth of the nation. Statistics indicate that there is a scarcity of U.S born graduates prepared to work in STEM fields. The universities would try their best to give out admits to deserving international students to ensure their higher-education system attracts the best and brightest from across the globe.

j) For the convocation ceremony at the time of graduation, more often than not, the parents end up visiting United States. The cascading impact of Indians not going to US Universities will affect the tourism industry in excess of US$ 1.0 billion as Indians are amongst the highest spenders as tourists in USA.

From losing revenues in the form of visa fees, University tuition, tourism, etc – the amount will be drastic for the country to suddenly sustain. Several multinational companies have already begun lobbying against the 2x eligibility criteria of $130K, and as per Mr. Vikas Swaroop, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, the concerns about H1B and L1 visas have been conveyed to the US at the highest levels. With President Trump and PM Modi expected to chalk out a long-term strategy of incremental Indo-US collaboration on multiple fronts, expect the deal only to get increasingly favorable for Indians going forward. Politically and diplomatically, it makes a lot of sense for President Trump to work towards creating a foreign policy with India which is mutually beneficial for the two countries.

Thus, it is important to scavenge at the opportunities during uncertain times rather than dwell too much on the negativities that have been propogated by media without even the laws and proposals being legislated.

Please note that this is an interpretation of the current proposals and may require modification with the future developments. Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US

Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US  
Impact of Trump’s policies on Indians aspiring for higher education in the US
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