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The Grad School Diaries #2 – Ezhilarasu Goutham

Many of us may dream of pursuing our higher education abroad, but Goutham Ezhilarasu has managed to safely secure his place in UCLA, one of the top ranked institutes in the world. As a EEE student who just completed his engineering this year from College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, he had some insightful information to share with The Guindy Times correspondent.

Q. What was the reason behind choosing to pursue MS and why UCLA in particular ?

            Right from starting my Engineering degree, I had always been inclined towards taking up MS. So this was definitely a natural progression. I had got into few other schools, but chose UCLA because I am familiar with Los Angeles, California and the weather falls in line with Chennai’s scorching heat.

Q. How important was your summer internship ?

            I did my summer internship at the University of Southern California, during my third year break. I obtained this paid internship through the Viterbi India program. I spent time learning and doing a project in the field of Solid State electronics. This helped in not only improving my knowledge of the subject, but also became the field that interested me most. So much so that my MS is oriented towards the devices and its application. The internship’s significance played a huge role in granting me admissions into even other schools like Geogia Tech, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Southern California.

"The internship’s significance played a huge role in granting me admissions into even other schools like Geogia Tech, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Southern California."



Q.  Is planning ahead vital while applying to colleges ?

            Planning is key. According to me, there are 3 steps while applying and each one when planned and executed properly should gradually pave the way for your admission.

  1. GRE, TOEFL : Start preparing for these two crucial exams atleast 2 to 3 months in advance. Preparing for more than 3 months may just end up confusing you so be cautious and decide based on your own level of comfort with the subjects. Make sure you write the exams well ahead of your application deadlines.
  2. Statement of Purpose (SoP) : Think properly and jot down your own future goals. Based on your interest and dreams, clearly state what you expect to achieve for yourself and the college. This is the space where you can impress them with your interests and ideas.
  3. Letter of Recommendation (LoR) :  Obtaining the LoRs may require a bit of running around, so be sure to get them well ahead. Ask professors with whom you share a good rapport but also make sure you don’t stick to just one. Some schools may require more than 1 LoR so approach many of your professors; this will come in handy.

Turning in an early application with universities may always be more favourable, so don’t stick to the last deadline. For example, if the deadline is say December 15th, you can send in your application within August itself to be on the safer side.

 Q. While applying, did you follow any strategy to ensure admission ?

            Most people apply to around 10 colleges on an average, so did I. Based on your CGPA and performance, you can roughly assess which colleges you have more chances of getting into. Segregating the prospective colleges into 3 categories based on the likeliness of securing admission can help avoid a ‘no admission at all’ situation. For example, not everyone can get into say MIT’s or Harvard’s masters programs, so it’s obvious to avoid only such applications. On the other hand, keeping 2 to 3 middle range and lower range colleges to which you can comfortable secure admission will keep you in a safe spot and also benefit during visa application.

Q. Since you mentioned the visa application, how does one go about the process ?

            The college or university after granting admission will maybe provide some guidance on completing visa formalities, but the process is to be done by the students themselves. You will have to seek the US consulate for a student visa. During the interview they will have questions about your studies, admission and even enquire about the schools you got into.

The Guindy Times thanks Ezhilarasu Gowtham for his time and insights on how to go about applying for MS in US.



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