Study in USA-Global UGrad Exchange Program

study in usa

Ever since my selection for Global UGrad Student Exchange program, people have been asking me about the application procedure, tips and tricks to get that scholarship. So I decided to put it in the form of an article that people can refer to. Well, I would still be happy to guide you in person but in case I am not available, you can always check for your problem here. So let’s get to it.

Note: Since I am from Pakistan so the dates mentioned in this article will be referenced to the timeline by USEFP (United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan). If you are reading it from a different country, timeline may differ but not significantly.

Application:

The applications start by the mid of October each year. The deadline is around mid of November. Mine was 12th November 2014. In your application you are required to enter your personal details, educational background, current university and most importantly a statement of purpose. So if you plan to apply for Global UGrad, make sure you have following things handy before the start of application days.

  • All your personal and educational data
  • Academic transcripts
  • A statement of purpose

Personal and educational data is something you remember already.

You will need scanned copies of academic transcripts for intermediate as well as bachelors (the latest one in this case).

I have given away the guidelines for statement of purpose and a sample statement as well. You can access it here.

Note: application is to be filled and submitted online so make sure you save each section so that you don’t have to go through all the trouble again. And for eligibility criteria, please refer to USEFP site here.

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Interview:

Once you have carefully reviewed and submitted the application, it will be reviewed by the selection committee and shortlisting will be done for the interview. Shortlisting is based on a number of factors like your grades, academic background, extracurricular activities and of course your personal statement. Personal statement is the most important one because it is your only interaction with the selection committee.

Upon shortlisting, the selected candidates will be called for the interview. I received my call during 2nd week of February 2015. But you have to remember the fact that there was a 3-week leave due to Black day of 16th December 2014. So that might have caused the delay. Anyways, February is the month to look out for calls for interview.

Interview itself is not a very big issue. All you have to do is dress up properly; preferably a suit or even dress pant shirt will be fine. Just be in time. First you will be required to fill out a form regarding information about your US based relatives and any community service you have done. Don’t lie about the community service. Then they will have you write an essay on a general topic within 15 minutes. Topics maybe something like:

  • My favorite TV show.
  • My favorite dish.
  • My favorite sport.

There will be a panel of 3 judges, 1 Pakistani, 1 American and 1 psychiatrist. Once you are called, enter the office confidently. Don’t expect a Salam; rather it will be hello or hi. Interview will start with your introduction. Just give a brief 1-2 minute introduction and leave something for them to ask. You don’t want to tell everything during the intro.

Mostly there will be general questions like,

  • Why do you want to go to USA?
  • What would you do if you are selected?
  • What would you do upon coming back?

They might ask question from your personal statement as well. So be careful while writing it and remember what you have written. A question may be like, how would this faculty (mentioned in your statement) help you during your stay in the US?

It will be a normal 5-7 minutes interview and once they thank you, that would be the time to leave the room.

Categories of candidates:

Candidates selected for Global UGrad fall into two main categories, Principle candidates and alternative candidates for fall semester and spring semester.

Principle Candidates: Selection as a principle candidate means you are going to US if you choose to.

Alternative Candidate: Selection as an alternate candidate means you are eligible to go to US but finished off a little bit below the list. So you may have a chance to go if a principle candidate declines to avail this program. If a principle candidate refuses to go then you may be called upon based on your number in the waiting list.

Note: All the procedure and timeline given below is for the candidates of Fall semester.

All those who will be selected after the interview will receive an e-mail containing Letter of Acceptance and a format for NOC. Just print the NOC pattern on your University’s letterhead and get it signed from the Dean or HoD. Don’t get into any hassle for NOC. You will receive this email by the end of March. It will also contain the date and time of your TOEFL test which will be sponsored by USEFP. There is usually a 2-3 weeks gap between acceptance and TOEFL.

TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language):

There are different types of TOEFL. The one offered by USEFP is TOEFL ITP, i.e. institutional based test. It means USEFP will pay for your test and only USEFP will be entitled to get your TOEFL scores and use them for your placement. You can’t use those TOEFL scores for placement in any other program. You will need to take TOEFL iBt (internet based test) for that purpose.

Now I am not going to get into the details of TOEFL. In fact if you have been through the interview, it won’t be a big deal. Just read the guidance material provided by USEFP or refer to internet for some sample papers if you feel like and be done with it. You will receive your scores within next 4-5 weeks.

TOEFL scores range from 300 to 677. Below 400 is inappropriate and above 600 is excellent. TOEFL iTP is easy. Most of the candidates score more than 600. Even if you score below 600, don’t worry, TOEFL score matters in your placement in a host university but it is not the only metric.

Terms and Conditions Form:

After appearing for TOEFL, you will be required to sign a Terms and Conditions form and send it to USEFP. That email will also contain your final letter of acceptance. You will get that email by the end of April.

Medical Clearance form:

By the start of May, you will receive a medical clearance form, which you will need to complete and resubmit within next 10 days. It requires all your medical history, so make sure you start collecting your vaccination proofs after you appear for TOEFL.

There is one test called Tuberculin PPD test which will take 2-3 days, so try and get yourself tested for it as soon as you get the form. Since you have to take it anyway, so make it your priority. For the other stuff, talk to your medical officer and get it filled out.

Visa Application:

After submission of medical clearance form, you will have to wait for a month and then you will receive email regarding visa application during 2nd week of June. You will need to fill an online application and send the confirmation sheet to USEFP by post. Just make sure you save all the details time to time so that you don’t have to go through all the trouble again. Your application will be accessible via a unique application ID and your chosen security question. Make sure you save them before proceeding with your application.

Visa interview:

After successful submission of your application you will be called for visa interview. Interviews will be conducted in US embassy during 2nd week of July. First you will be required to reach USEFP office and they will take you to embassy themselves. This is the point when your grant starts so if you are coming from a far flung area, you will also be reimbursed for your travel expenses.

Visa interview won’t be anything like what comes to mind when you hear the word “Interview”. There will be no separate room, no panel, as it is not a selection interview. It will be more of a formality for Visa. All you need to do is show up in a sober dress, go to the counter on your turn and answer a bunch of general questions.

PDO (Pre Departure Orientation):

After your visa interview, you will receive email regarding PDO. It will contain a registration form which you will be required to submit as per the services needed by you, like ticket or accommodation. PDO will take place by the end of July in which you will be guided on different aspects of studying and living in the U.S. including:

  • What to do in Pakistan before you go to the U.S.
  • Preparing to go to the U.S.
  • The visa process
  • Traveling to the U.S.
  • Getting settled in the U.S.
  • U.S. Academic institutions and systems
  • Life in the U.S.
  • Sharing Pakistani culture with people in the U.S.
  • Process and procedures for individual programs

Departure:

The candidates selected for fall semester will depart to USA by 2nd week of August and come back by last week of December.

So that’s it…

I know it was a long post, but hey, so was the whole process.

If you believe there is something missing or you have any question, feel free to leave a comment.

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