The Vertical

6 minutes


Updated June 8, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

When you were eliminating universities to apply to in the chapter Choosing the Universities, you were using just a few factors on the surface level. You might have used some hard requirements you set for courses, research, and location to do the elimination. Now, you have the luxury to go deeper into all the factors that you deemed to be important back then. We will specifically talk about Academia and Career.

Academia: Your Opportunities

Courses and research are still the most important factors that will define your experience. You already spent some time looking at the course catalog, research areas, and professors’ pages in the beginning. Now, we need you to dive deeper into these areas and get more questions answered.

Courses: Revisit the work you had already done in the Choosing Universities sheet and go over the course website once more for the universities. Back then, we asked you to think about the single most important factor that mattered to you with regards to courses. Most of you might have had something on the lines of, I want to study x, y, and z topics during my graduate school.

thinkNow, how can you go a layer deeper? The following are a few examples:

  • I want to have flexibility in choosing at least one course from the business school and journalism school, respectively.

  • I want to take a course that lets me work on a project in interdisciplinary teams.

  • I want my department to provide specialization tracks so I can pick the one on Integrated Devices.

Write down a few of these use cases and begin your hunt to find out if the universities satisfy them. Like before, rank these so you don’t treat them all with the same priority.

Research: There is a good chance you heard back from a few of the professors you wrote to in the past few months. If you followed the guidance in Choosing the Universities, all the universities you got an admit from must at least have the opportunity for you to pursue research in your area of interest.

thinkThe following are a few examples:

  • I want to work in a research lab that has published papers in the ICML conference before.

  • I want to have access to a cyclotron to conduct my research.

  • I want my supervisor to provide me with a research assistantship that will fully waive my tuition.

Career: Your Prospects

In the chapter Choosing the Universities, we asked you to look at the placement statistics, top career paths that alumni chose, and a salary range. Unlike Academia, it isn’t easy or straightforward to dig deeper here.

Unlock expert knowledge.
Learn in depth. Get instant, lifetime access to the entire book. Plus online resources and future updates.
Now Available

So, you need to turn to a qualitative but high quality resource: current and past students.

You can find them either by going to the department’s student directory* or by using the filters on LinkedIn.* They have lived through it all: attended career fairs, networking events, and career center workshops. They can attest to the level of support provided by the university in securing internships and jobs.

thinkBefore you send out a dozen LinkedIn requests asking to schedule a call, spend some time thinking about the questions you want answered.

Having been through the process, we recommend you focus on the following topics:

  • In retrospect, what helped you most in securing your internship? How much of a role did the career counselor and department play?

  • What career path did you think you would end up in when you joined, and is that different from what you do now? What made you change?

  • What was something surprising about the recruitment process, both good and bad?

Like you, there would be a dozen others reaching out to them. So, ask yourself how you can use that knowledge to your advantage. Our suggestion would be to acknowledge that you value their time and propose multiple options through which they can help you. The following is an example message:

Hi Siya,

I am excited to let you know that I received an admit from the Energy Engineering department at Duke University. I have two weeks to make a decision between Duke, Cornell, and UW. Given the peak season of getting admits, I understand you must be approached by others as well. I wanted to ask you a few critical questions related to the assistance Duke provided in getting your job (congratulations, by the way!). To be respectful of your time, I’m proposing a few alternatives below. Let me know what the most efficient way for you would be.

  • If you already responded to someone else who asked a question on this topic, please feel free to copy and paste the response.

  • If you prefer to type the responses at your own convenience, here [link] is a Google Doc with the questions I wanted to ask. Feel free to add hyperlinks to resources there.

  • If you prefer to have a 20-minute call to field the questions, here is a Calendly link [link] you can use to book a slot. If none of those times work for you, let me know, and I can accommodate to your liking. Or, send me your Calendly link if you have one.

I’m sure you know, this is an important decision in life. I’ve learned from experience that the best way forward is to talk to a few people who’ve walked the path before. Thank you so much in advance!

The example message above is specific to asking questions about your career, but you can use this template for any topic.

The Horizontal

While narrowing down universities, you looked at a few factors at the horizontal level and selected your top universities. The T-shape was more like a “—” back then.

In the previous section, we asked that you paint the vertical bar of the T by going deeper into a few critical factors.

You need to complete the T-shape by considering a few factors we disregarded before, breadth-wise.

You’re reading a preview of an online book. Buy it now for lifetime access to expert knowledge, including future updates.
If you found this post worthwhile, please share!