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Application Qs

1. Is it necessary to mention the date on the recommendation letters, when getting it signed? Can an un-dated recommendation letter be rejected by a university?

Yes it is required. The date should be mentions.According to my experience some universities do not accept an undated letter.

2. If yes, what is the typical duration for which a dated recommendation letter is deemed valid? For example if I take a recommendation letter in Oct 2007 (for Fall 2008), can I use the same to seek admission in say Fall 2000 session OR will it be treated as “too old”?

My experience is that 9- 6 months should be the duration for the validity of a recommendation letter. You will appreciate this if you realize the purpose of a recommendation letter. Univs want to know about your present work and achievements.

3. The question is arising since I believe that I might be able to get better recommendations at this point of time and also that some of the people (both academic and industrial) from whom I am seeking recommendations might move on to some other places after some time. There is a low probability of them retaining the relevant stationary and whether it will be possible or even correct to get recommendations written on some new stationary (of a institute or company with which I had no association).

One solution can be that you get some recommendations with a current date and get a few without dates. With the permission of recommendation writers you can insert the date as per your requirement.
However the relevance of the recommendation shall again be a question after passage of a time period.

4. Is it ok, if we send the application directly to universities without contacting the profs?

Yes. Professors are contacted to find some compatibility between your area of research interest and the professors area of research. They are primarily contacted for RA.

5. I had sent mails to profs asking them to evaluate my chances of working with them. Some of them haven’t replied. Will it be fine, even if I apply for these universities also?

6. Will applying to 4 or 5 universities be fine or shall I app for more universities?

Depends on your University selection and your objectives of getting only admission or admission along with assistantship.

7. What is the best time to app for getting aid?

NOV – JAN after verifying the deadlines. There is no harm in applying early.

How many students are admitted by each university?


How can we know the number students any university admits each year…especially international students.I mean will there be any specific number seats allocated for a particular branch? If so where can we get these details?

Also, how can we learn how many assistantship positions they offer?


These details are not available from the horses mouth you have to infer from other sources. This blog also provides the information.

Some of the better universities do provide statistics about their acceptance rates,assistantships offered etc on their web sites. You have to make efforts to locate this data.

After a lot of efforts I have arrived at the following conclusions:

1.Data about assistantships,number admitted etc. can be available if you check the web sites of the better universities.

2.Universities which have low acceptance rate or good number of assistantships to offer will only provide this data on their web.This means that only high ranked universities who have some thing to shout about will give you this.

3.Universities tend to admit students from different backgrounds. They will not admit all or majority of students from the same geographical location. They will also not admit majority of students from the same economical background.

4. No consolidated data is available at one point. Especially for graduate students. For undergraduate students this data is available.

US news gives some information but it is mainly about Engineering Programs.

It gives a fair idea about :

The number of people studying in different engineering programs.

It also gives an idea of RAs available in different engineering specializations.

You may also get some figures about the number of international students in these engineering programs.

To this I may add that the requirement for admission of GRE / TOEFL or GPA as mentioned by US News is general for all engineering programs and not for a specified branch.

Similarly the figure about acceptance rate is general.

Good luck


More on GPA

Q1 I am a student of IP university, Delhi and have completed my BIS hons. I have taken my GMAT and got a score of 660.
First of all could you please tell me how do I calculate my GPA from mark sheets.

I have been frequently writing that the applicants need not convert their marks into GPA pattern.

You will not be able to calculate this correctly.

Every university has it’s own people who are trained on this and they do it. Let me also add that each university also has it’s own set norms for conversion. So please do not attempt the conversion.

Suffice it to say that if you have good scores in your home country then it will be treated as such by the universities.

To this I would also add that

If you have scores of 75% – 80% or above than only attempt for universities ranked 1-10.

If your score is 70-75% than only try universities ranked 11-30.

If you have grades 65-70% try for universities ranked 31-50.

Most of the other universities want a score above 60%.


1.Academics is one aspect there are other things in the APPLICATION MIX which are seen by the admission committee. It means that if a candidates has less than 80% he can still be admitted to a university ranked 1-10 if his other factors in the mix are strong. The same applies for other groups mentioned above.

2.There are universities which admit candidates with less than 60% marks. You have to find them.


These Links may also be of interest to you:

Low GPA Stories

About GPA and Class Position

What Happens if my undergraduate GPA is low?

Grade Point Average and Admissions

Understanding GPA

How to convert percentage marks to the GPA system? Part 1

Advice on GPA

Questions Regarding Application Process:

Q 1. How important are the pre-university records ( that is 10,11,12 STD) and how essential are the transcripts
of those. I am skeptical about them being considered as official since the cover is not sent from the Registrar.

The importance of these documents lies in the relevance of these in your application context.If you have some academic achievements to your credit then do mention it and supply the proofs.
By achievement I mean some national, state or university level.
If you had some science or math\’s scholarships do mention.If you did some project in school and gained recognition do record it.
If you were involved in some community development project then make the Univ aware of it.

Q 2. What should we mention as our undergraduate institution name ? Is it my Engineering College name or the University name? I am confused in what to mention. At places I find my college name in the search option and at times the university name and sometimes none.

I would like that the university’s name must be mentioned. If the space permits college name should be provided in addition to this.

Q 3.Do the above two factors count for/against the admission & funding criteria?

If you have still supplied these documents even if they are not supporting what I have said above it makes no difference to your application.Do not worry.