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Study in the USA: How to Choose the Best Graduate School for you

Our speakers are Ms. Ellen Wang, Ms. Stephanie Lo and Ms. Sarah Moran from the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (FSE).

Study in the USA: How to Choose the Best Graduate School for you
Thursday, September 30 2004 (2:30 PM - 4:30 PM)

Please note: Portions of this transcript have been edited for clarity

Host: (Ellen Wang):

Hi, this is Ellen Wang saying hi to everyone....

 

Host: (Stephanie Lo)

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I'm an advisor at FSE. I'm currently a Masters student at University of Pennsylvania and I'm also here as a Fulbright grantee conducting research.

 

Host: (Sarah Moran):

Hi, my name is Sarah. I am an advisor at the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange. Welcome.

 


Start of Chat


 

Host: (Ellen Wang / Sarah Moran / Stephanie Lo)
Q
Where can find the ranking of graduate schools?
A
1)You can get the free ranking info from internet or buy their magazine for more detailed list. 2)Also, with regard to ranking, there are several ways to determine the strength of the department you are applying to. One way is to look at the schools rank. For example, programs can be ranked based on two types of data: expert opinion about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research, and students. As programs are also asked to evaluate themselves, sometimes this may be biased. 3)You can go to www.Usnews.com and www.petersons.com (2004-09-30 14:41)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo / Sarah Moran)
Q
What will be the main factors we should consider for a university students to choose a graduate program?
A
1)The most important thing you should look at is the faculty and the school's research strengths and interests. 2)More accurate method, you should use is relative to your specific goals and career focus. Gather information about the faculty and their backgrounds. Are their interests and background similar to your interests? What about the alumni, and the quality of jobs that they are offered? You can also try to contact current students or alumni associations to get a feel for the departmental politics, and innuendos that influence the quality of a department. Does the department try to weed out students (the attrition rate)? What are the opinions of current and former students of the department and the faculty? (2004-09-30 14:42)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Could I find more in FSE's library other than US News and Petersons on web?
A
The library contains a lot of information on the school's research facilities, projects, etc. and information on faculty. (2004-09-30 14:43)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
Does all top ranking universities are good? Who evaluate those schools? Can we trust those ranking?
A
There are a series of factors that should be considered when you choose a university. A universities rank is not a complete depiction of the quality of the program. In the United States, institutions of higher education operate with comparative independence from governmental influence and regulation. Thus there is strong variety in each graduate programs character and quality. Moreover, different organizations and publications will rank schools differently. The purpose of looking at the ranking is to give you a general feel for the school's reputation. (2004-09-30 14:45)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
你好,我是正在準備2005年秋季班研究所的學生,在大學所主修的科目URBAN AFFAIRS AND ENVIRONMENTAL PANNING。美國URBAN PLANNING研究所,有些學校對於研究生在畢業前夕已不要求要提出碩士論文,改以考試並行。這對於未來學生畢業之後,找工作或著繼續深造博士,是否有影響?
A
As far as work is concerned, not having a thesis shouldn't be a huge factor, however, if you plan on applying for a PhD program it won't be favorable to not have a solid research based writing sample. But it is possible to use another research paper when applying. (2004-09-30 14:46)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
If I have questions on study in the USA, can I go to FSE? Do I need to make appointment for student advising?
A
Of course you can come to our foundation to get all the free services. If you want to talk to advisors,and you should make a appointment in advance. (2004-09-30 14:49)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
Does it mean a good reputation school graduate student could get a better job in the US?
A
In general, if you graduate from a reputable graduate school, however nothing is guaranteed. Sorry about that. It is possible to find a good job after graduating from a top graduate school, however it is not a guarantee. (2004-09-30 14:50)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
Can I apply a school online or I must fill out the application form and send by mail?
A
More and more schools now prefer to accept the on-line applications. (2004-09-30 14:52)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
Is there online consulting available?
A
Yes, you can use www.ustudy.org to have on-line consulting with Taiwan professors. We have about 60 mentors to answer questions on our www.ustudy.org . (2004-09-30 14:54)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
How could I know they do get my application?
A
Usually schools will ask that you fill out a self addressed post card. When they receive your materials they will send the postcard to let you know they received it. (2004-09-30 14:53)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Does it mean I should mail my application instead of apply online?
A
You have to mail your application, but some schools will offer you the option of additionally submitting an application online, but you still need to mail the application. (2004-09-30 14:54)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
請問URABN PLANNING研究所畢業的外國學生,如果想繼續留在美國就業,是否有提供輔助的管道?
A
While studying urban planning in the U.S., you can speak with your advisors at the school and with the university's career center. In this manner you will be best able to open up more doors for work opportunities in the U.S.. (2004-09-30 14:55)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
How many graduate schools should I apply to?
A
We recommend from 8-10 schools. We also suggest that you partition the schools according to how difficult and competitive gaining acceptance to the schools are. For example, rank schools 1-4 as the ones you are most interested in attending, but also the hardest to get into; 5-8, as universities you would like to attend, but are easier to gain acceptance; and 9-10 as back up schools. In partitioning the schools in this manner, you maximize your chances of getting into at least a couple schools and having a selection of programs to choose from. (2004-09-30 14:58)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I want to go to graduate school in architecture, should I contact a professor?
A
Definitely. Speak to a professor in your area of interest. They then can recommend schools to apply to and professors to work with. In research oriented graduate schools, professors usually find students with whom they want to work with. If you contact a professor you give that professor a better chance of getting to know you and have a better understanding of your skills and background before you send in your application. (2004-09-30 15:00)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
Where can I find the schools with conditional admission?
A
You can come to our library to find a book called 2004 international student handbook, there is a list of all the schools with conditional admission in our library. (2004-09-30 15:00)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
If my GRE/GMAT is not as high as the average listed for school can I still apply?
A
Yes you can. American universities do not only take into account your grades, Toefl, and GRE/GMAT scores. They also take into account your work experience, the quality of the research you have done, the quality of your recommendations, and the depth and breadth of your essays and statement of purpose as related to your knowledge of the field you are applying to and your career goals. (2004-09-30 15:02)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I heard the American graduate schools don't give Taiwan students the scholarship, is there any way to get assistantship?
A
International graduate students have significant more opportunities for financial assistance than international undergraduate students. Available aid includes grants, fellowships, scholarships, loans, internships, assistantships, and residencies. We recommend that you contact the graduate school you would like to go to and ask the relevant department and the university's financial aid office about financial aid for international students. For grants and scholarships, look to the academic department. Merit based scholarships could be in the form of service related such as teaching assistantships and /or research assistantship. Remember that international students are eligible to work after their first year of study both on or off campus, BUT, it must be in jobs related to their program of study. There are other avenues to find financial aid for graduate school, such as NAFSA, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, The American Association of University Women Education Foundation, and The Institute of International Education, among many other groups. Locating funding sources takes time and effort. Do your research and remember that if you explore in depth and combine the possible forms of aid ( for example work, loan and scholarships) then you have a better chance to find adequate financial aid for your graduate studies. Keep in mind that financial aid applications may be due months earlier than the actual admissions deadlines. (2004-09-30 15:08)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
If I get student visa, how can my wife go with me?
A
Your wife should apply her F-2 visa, then she could go with you. (2004-09-30 15:08)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Is it legal for me to work part-time at school ?
A
Yes, it is legal as long as your work is on campus. (2004-09-30 15:15)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
I'm not good at english. Is there has any English class of American school can help me?
A
大部分的美國大學都有語言課程,你都可以計畫前往就讀,而語言學校的課程可以提高你的英文能力,並且課程多半相當有趣。 (2004-09-30 15:16)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Do I need to get any kind of permission for a part-time work if the job is other than in the campus?
A
Yes you do, and the work must be related to your class. so, you need to get permission from a faculty member or advisor and then have it approved by the office of international students. (2004-09-30 15:16)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問進語言學校前需要先申請什麼?
A
填好你的申請表並且繳費,不需要任何考試你就可以就讀了。 (2004-09-30 15:17)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Where should I go for getting the working permit?
A
Office of international students or whatever the deparment is called at your university. (2004-09-30 15:18)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問我可以用觀光簽證進入美國然後申請唸語言學校嗎?
A
如果你的語言學校一週時數低於十八小時,便可以使用觀光簽證。如果是追求正式學位則強烈建議持學生簽證入境,因為縣在從觀光簽證轉到學生簽證相當困難。 (2004-09-30 15:19)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Now we can apply some correspondence courses or distance learning course in Taiwan. Can I transfer the credits from correspondence course if I decide to go to that school for studying?
A
It all depends on the school you apply to. You need to email the department and ask. (2004-09-30 15:20)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
Do I need any reference letters for applying language schools?
A
No, you don't need reference letters when you apply to language schools. (2004-09-30 15:20)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
I have a friend in States for graduate study. But he's already studied more than five years, is there any limitation for how long the degree should be completed?
A
Yes there is, each school will list the time limit, usually they do not allow more than 10 years for full time students in a PhD program. (2004-09-30 15:22)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
Is it very important or necessary to have work experiences when I apply the graduate school in US?
A
If you are interested in an MBA degree, With the demand for management study on the rise, the popular MBA schools can pick and choose who they want to attend their school. Therefore, one main factor used in their choice is on the basis of management-related work experience, which is highly valued by the corporate recruiters who hire from U.S. business schools. In 2000 the average number of years that students have worked was around 5 years. Now, in an effort to bring in some younger candidates, the general minimum number of years work experience required of students is 2 years. (2004-09-30 15:23)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
For a PhD program, if I study five years in States, can I back to Taiwan to write my paper? or I should discuss with the professor?
A
Yes you can, but most people will first consult with their mentor before choosing a research destination. (2004-09-30 15:24)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問申請美國學校有年齡的限制嗎?例如已經超過40歲了。
A
然沒有,美國學校不會對任何年齡作出限制。 (2004-09-30 15:26)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Does the living cost in the East Coast much higher than West Coast?
A
It all depends on the city, the larger the city, the more expensive. You might want to look at each city's website to determine the cost of living. Also, the university will give you the average cost of living (including tuition) for the city in which they are located. (2004-09-30 15:26)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo / Ellen Wang)
Q
I'm thinking to study computer graphic in the US. But I don't have computer related background, is it possible for me to get an admission? any suggestions?
A
1)It's possible, but you'll have to justify yourself in the personal statement and study outline admission essays. 2)If you take some computer-related course in Taiwan, it will help you more when applying. (2004-09-30 15:28)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Can you explain more about study outline admission essays?
A
Sure, if you're applying for phd programs, they will usually ask for a study outline, if you're applying for a master there's no need. (2004-09-30 15:30)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo / Sarah Moran)
Q
I like to study a master degree, can you explain more about admission essays?
A
1)Ok, you just need to worry about the personal statement that will be the largest factor in whether they accept you or not. 2)Also, your personal statement must indicate what your goals are once you graduate from school and how you are currently working toward them. (2004-09-30 15:31)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Please explain more about the personal statement?
A
Sure, the personal statement is where you explain why you want to pursue a masters in computer graphics at the school you are applying at. You need to state how your past experiences have influenced you and you also need to state what your future goals are and how getting a degree will help you achieve that. Most universities will list on their application what they wish you to focus on. (2004-09-30 15:33)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
If I want to be a researcher or professor, what kind PhD program is better, the one that most professors graduated from, or which that I really like?
A
I will suggest you should choose what you really like for your PhD. (2004-09-30 15:34)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
If i choose to study in language school, how long i study there is proper and efficient?
A
Well it depends, what are your goals for studying at a language schools? also, it depends on your english level too. (2004-09-30 15:35)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Should I send my application to admission office of the department head?
A
The application will list the address that you need to send your application to. (2004-09-30 15:35)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Most schools request us to send the applications to admission office. However, I am thinking since I will apply a no-background related school, will it be better chance if I directly send my application to the Department head?
A
You cannot send the application to the department head, however, the dept head will most likely be involved in the decision making process. So i wouldn't worry whether he/she sees it or not. (2004-09-30 15:37)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I'm interested in special education programs, but my major in undergraduate school was social work, can I apply?
A
Of course you can apply. It is actually quite related to special education. What I suggest you do is, in you statement of purpose, indicate how what you learned in undergraduate school, helps with what you will learn in graduate school, which will help you reach your career goals. (2004-09-30 15:38)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Who make decision on accept a student or not?
A
Faculty makes the decision, dept heads are usually also standing faculty members so they are usually on the admission board. (2004-09-30 15:38)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I do not take any test ye, which test is the most important one I should prepare first? I plan to study comparative literature but my parents like me to study management- better career but I don't have any background.
A
You will need to take the TOEFL test as well as the GRE test. If you want to get an MBA, you'll need at least 2 years of working experience and most MBA students have an average of 5 years of working experience. (2004-09-30 15:50)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
Any one can apply MBA if I have working experience for certain years?
A
Yes. (2004-09-30 15:53)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I like management too, because my family have business(sometimes, I do help in the company just like an intern) but I don't have any background, is it ok for get a permission?
A
If you have worked at your family's business, make sure you have it on your resume, including the number of years you have helped them out, and what you have done. But you still have to work full time for at least 2 years. (2004-09-30 15:54)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo / Sarah Moran)
Q
Do I need to pass any other test except TOFEL and GRE?
A
1)For MBA you need to take the GMATs, for comparative lit you need to take the GREs. 2)Some MBA programs accept the GRE. (2004-09-30 15:54)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
It means MBA will need to pass GMAT, GRE and TOFEL?
A
No, for MBA you just need to take TOFEL and GMAT, if you plan to do a dual degree, you will need to take the GRE in addition to the GMAT. (2004-09-30 15:55)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
If I have other questions after this chat, where can I go and ask you?
A
Come to FSE, go to www.ustudy.org, and you can also sign up for a personal consultation free of charge. or you can call 2332-8188 for phone advising. (2004-09-30 15:57)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo)
Q
For studying about literature in US graduate school next year, should I prepare for applying now?
A
Yes, definitely have to prepare now. (2004-09-30 16:02)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問如果未來收到學校的i-20之後,規定須在三十天以內才可入境,請問要如何才可以再這個時間以外入境(提早在規定的30天內入境美國的方法)?
A
首先你可以同時申請觀光簽證與學生簽證,然後再入境美國海關時以觀光簽證入境,等到你的開學入期到了在轉成學生簽證,需要離境再入境。不過強烈不建議這種方法,因為非常麻煩而且牽涉到作業流程時間恐怕耽誤到你的入學註冊時間,所以無論是簽證觀或是基金會顧問都不建議用此法。 (2004-09-30 16:04)
 
Host: (Stephanie Lo / Ellen Wang)
Q
如果我想在美國讀大學,那要看我的高中平均成績? 還是最後一年的成績? 我需要考托福嗎?
A
1)Yes, they will look at it and you also need to take TOFEL. 2)全部都會看但是較看重的是主要科目。 (2004-09-30 16:06)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問我還有什麼辦法可以提早入境?因為我的學校要我先上語言課程。
A
你如果是唸語言課程,當然語言學校會發給你語言學校的I-20,所以你就可以在正式研究所課程之前合法入境了。 (2004-09-30 16:09)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
美國大學要先選科系嗎? 它以什麼標準來決定是否錄取?
A
For undergraduate degrees, normally you do not have to declare your major ahead of time. However, if you are going into accounting, engineering or a very specialized field, then you have to apply to that particular department. (2004-09-30 16:10)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
如果我想申請教育科技研究所,請問我需要準備作品嗎?
A
不一定,要看你計畫申請的那所學校有沒有在requirement的地方要求作品,如果有再準備囉。 (2004-09-30 16:11)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
If I get three I-20s, is there any criteria for me to pick up one from the three?
A
You have been accepted to three different universities, right? You must choose the best university for you. (2004-09-30 16:12)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
請問我要如何轉換I-20?
A
I-20不需要也不能轉換,是學校按照你的申請及開課日期核發給你的。 (2004-09-30 16:13)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I have been accpted by three universities. But how to select the best one? Can I select one according to the ranking?
A
Let me give you a list that we have to choose the best university for you. 1)Determine how the program you want fits into your career goals. Or more simply, your interests. If you're good at math and are interested in pursuing science and perhaps physics, then finding a university with a good math and science program is important. 2)Find out what classes are offered, and the background of the professor teaching the classes. 3)Learn about the Faculty (what's their background, resume, work experience, research interests). 4)What is the size of the school? (In graduate school, generally your class size is smaller and you will work closer with the professors). This also influences the atmosphere of the department. 5)Location 6)Find out what funding is available for international students. 7)What are the costs of attending that university? 8)What is the rank of the school or your specific program ? Look at the U.S. news and world report. www.Usnews.com. However, be wary of the ranking. Look at all the factors listed here to determine the quality of the school you are applying to. 9)Look on the website for the average SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. score, and the average grades of entering freshmen and graduate students. IF your score and grades are in range, it's might be easier to get in. If it is lower, it might be a school that is harder to get into. 10)Look at the alumni statistics. What percentage of them get jobs just outside of graduating? What is their average pay? Can you speak to an alumni to find out some specifics about the school your looking at that can't be discerned from the school's website or brochure? 11)Determine what the student body looks. Where do the students come from? Are there a lot of foreign students? Is there a diversity of students from many ethnic groups? And from all these factors, you can determine which school is best for you. (2004-09-30 16:15)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
所以語言學校寄給我的I-20到時在註冊的時候,就與研究所的I-20一併使用?
A
如果你同時拿到語言學校和研究所的I-20,請一並拿給簽證官申請簽證,並說明你要申請學生簽證,然後在入就時告訴海關你要先唸語言學校。 (2004-09-30 16:17)
 
Host: (Ellen Wang)
Q
Do I need to return the other two I-20s after I made decision?
A
Yes. (2004-09-30 16:22)
 
Host: (Sarach Moran)
Q
I am not at Taipei. If I have a chance to Taipei, I hope I could come to FSE office. Do I need to make appointment in advance?
A
It helps, but it isn't required. You can also call us for a phone consultation and you can email as well. (2004-09-30 16:23)
 
Host: (Sarah Moran)
Q
I am at Tong-hai. It's difficult for me to get school information.
A
The best information is from the internet. It's the best way, especially in graduate school, where you will need to gather detailed updated information about each university's department. (2004-09-30 16:26)


End of Chat


 

 

Host: (Ellen Wang)

It is my pleasure to sharing educational information here with everyone in this chat room. Call us 2332-8188 we would love to help you!

 

Host: (Stephanie Lo)

Thank you for your participation in today's webchat. We welcome you to check our website www.ustudy.org.

 

Host: (Sarah Moran)

Thank you so much for participating in our web chat. Please come into our office and library to gather up to date information and get free consultations!