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Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that leverages computation methods (programming, statistics, simulation studies, analytical methods, etc.) to analyze large sets of biological data. When it comes to graduate admissions at the top universities in the US, especially for quantitative subjects, the GRE score does play a vital role.
Nachiket had initially opted for a 1:1 consultation session with me in June 2019. Later, in December (2019), he contacted me again to help with his university shortlisting and applications.
Despite two sincere attempts, Nachiket managed to score 302 in GRE. Unlike a few other candidates, Nachiket didn’t bog down. In fact, he decided to start seeing things the way they are and started applying to universities after opting for our MS admissions counselling services.
Solid grades (GPA), research or internship experience, technical skills along with strong recommendation letters and a well-crafted SoP can improve your admission chances despite a below-average GRE score. More often than not, an IIT or NIT tag is also helpful to balance off low GRE score or GPA. Additionally, applying to the right universities is also critical.
Nachiket did his B.Tech in Biotechnology from Dr. D.Y.Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute (Pune, India). He had a pretty good GPA (8.3). During his B.Tech, he had done two one-month summer internships. After finishing his B.Tech in May 2019, he also worked as a research trainee for around 6 months.
So, as you can see, apart from solid academics, Nachiket had good practical exposure in the biotechnology domain. His technical skill set was also pretty solid. So, in this case, it was critical to apply to those programs where the admissions officers put more emphasis on working knowledge of computational methods and internships rather than the GRE score.
Related Article: Top Universities for MS Biotechnology in USA without GRE
Initially, we mutually decided to apply to 5 – 7 universities. But, after receiving offers from two of his first choices (Boston and KTH) with a partial scholarship, Nachiket didn’t apply to any other universities. He was in the middle of his application at SDSU; but later, he didn’t even complete the last phase of his application (sending the hard copies to the university).
But, on April 10, Nachiket not only received an admit for the BMI program at SDSU; he was also approached by a Professor for MS thesis project.
Here is the detailed feedback from Nachiket on how things went with his applications.
MS Bioinformatics Admits at Boston University (US) and KTH (Sweden) with Low GRE Score
Feedback on MS Admissions Counselling Services by Nachiket Thosar
1. What made you contact me (for a 1:1 session)?
I was looking for counselors to help me in my application to foreign universities. I had gone to some of the generic International Education Counselors. But, somehow, I felt I needed someone who would understand my doubts regarding the stream I wished to pursue. That is how I contacted Tanmoy Sir for a 1:1 session as I read about his background, having a Masters in biomedical sciences along with strong research experience. It made me think that he would know what I wanted with the applications and would be able to understand my questions better.
2. How did the session help you to make a decision for the next steps?
The session cleared most of my doubts as you helped me understand the things I should prepare for before applying to universities. I could relate to you more as I knew that Tanmoy was were from a similar educational background as me.
3. Could you please tell us a little bit about your GRE preparation?
I studied for GRE using an online course from Magoosh and attended a one-month crash course in a local GRE preparation class. I practiced for two months for my first attempt using only the online course. Then I took a crash course of one month for my second attempt in a nearby coaching center.
4. Would you like to share any advice for the GRE takers?
For all the GRE takers there is only one piece of advice that is necessary – it’s all about the time spent practicing till you get familiar with the questions. That gives a basic understanding of the types of questions you face difficulty in. It is not very difficult but it takes effort.
Once you get used to the questions, you get faster solving them (especially quant questions). If you have difficulty in solving verbal questions, try listing down the difficult words while solving questions and understand the meanings. But only when you solve questions, you can get used to them.
5. What is your feedback on the personalized university shortlisting process?
The personalized shortlisting process was very efficiently handled. All the universities shortlisted were tailor-made for my interests and made the application process less daunting than before. I really appreciated the efforts taken by Tanmoy to find universities, which suited my interests. It made it quite easy for me to choose from the shortlisted universities.
6. How did you find the SoP services (brainstorming process, reviews & editing)?
The first SOP draft creation was a bit challenging as I never thought so much about the choice I had made regarding the stream I wished to pursue.
The guidelines for the SOP creations felt simple at the start but while writing them down, I understood that this was going to take some time. But the editing guided me well as to how I should be thinking and once I completed all the editing, the SOP really felt concise and complete.
7. Obviously, I was there to support you with your admission journey. But, I didn’t write your SoP, LoR or CV. Did you find the process useful?
The major difficulties occurred during the SOP creation where I had to tune myself to write a concise essay but once that was created with Tanmoy’s help it was a smooth journey and helped me a lot.
8. My (or Stoodnt’s) admissions consulting fee is not among the most expensive ones in the market, but not too cheap as well. Did you find it worth it?
I felt that the personalized counselling provided by Tanmoy, even though it was not face-to-face, felt very comfortable and you were quite accessible. I guess this makes the money I spent worth it as I think the money I would have spent on generic counselling would not be as flexible the experience would not have been fulfilling.
9. Quite often MS candidates are working professionals. So, they need flexibility (from the consultant) to work on their applications. What are your thoughts on this?
The application process needs time and needs to be well-paced. If you start early, it can be comfortable.
The application process for me was well managed as I had plenty of time to finish the tasks and you gave me enough suggestions. Even though I wasn’t working as a professional during the application process (I was only an intern), your schedule for the process gives ample time for anyone to be able to work on their applications.
10. According to you, what’s the advantage of working with independent admission consultants (like me) over traditional study abroad agencies (or agents)?
Independent admission consultants care more about the applicants and their interests than the other consultants who have tie-ups with certain universities. Consultants like you really take efforts into understanding doubts of applicants like us and help clear our doubts.
Additionally, as I mentioned earlier that Tanmoy happens to be from the same background with solid research experience. Subject matter experts make the application process fell less scary as most of the questions regarding the stream are cleared and a basic plan is visible from the start of the process. It is easy to follow the steps later.
12. Any advice that you would like to share with the future applicants; especially the folks who might be confused about whether to work with an admission consultant?
I would gladly suggest future applicants select the admission consultants wisely keeping in mind all their doubts regarding the application process. Subject matter experts not only clear all the doubts but by doing so help you be confident about the application process.
13. The whole process has been carried out remotely (Phone / Skype and Email). Did you face any problem with it?
Even though the admission counselling process was not in-person, it was very comfortable and convenient for me. More importantly, Tanmoy has been quite accessible over the phone and email. I didn’t face any problem with the process. I felt comfortable asking whatever questions I had regarding the process over the phone.
I want to personally thank you for helping me through this process. In the beginning, I was quite lost as to what I needed to do but with your guidance, I got selected into two of the best universities we shortlisted. It makes me very happy that I chose you as the counselor and I will always be thankful for your help.
– Nachiket Thosar