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Write a Graduate School Essay that Will Knock Their Socks Off


Your graduate school personal statement may initially get only five minutes of an admissions officer’s attention

Writing an amazing graduate school essay is probably far more straightforward than you might think. Graduate school admissions officers aren’t looking for gimmicks. They’re looking for passionate, motivated, and prepared applicants who are ready to hit the ground running in their program. Read on for more details in creating your best graduate school essay. If you’re looking for one-on-one assistance, check out

Know what the admissions officers are seeking

Don’t make assumptions about your graduate school personal statements. Many programs simply ask you to submit a personal statement without any further guidance. Other programs will tell you exactly how they want the essay structured along with word count limits and formatting requirements. Review the prompt thoroughly and plan your essay before you begin writing to ensure that you create an essay that will be an effective and persuasive addition to your application package.

What should you do if the program doesn’t give you any specifics? With greater numbers of applicants to graduate programs, the trend is toward shorter essays. This is especially true of graduate programs in the STEM fields. Unfortunately, longer essays tend to be skimmed rather than read thoroughly, and most any admissions officer will tell you that the best essays that they’ve read are always shorter essays. Think about what is absolutely essential, and write about those aspects of your experience with passion.

Personal, personal, personal

Did we mention personal? Some graduate programs will ask you to write an additional essay about an issue within your chosen field. However, your personal statement should be about you as an individual. Write about issues only if they relate specifically to your personal experiences. For example, ‘In Africa, a child dies every minute. This stark statistic prompted me to join an NGO aimed at providing nutrition and healthcare for children in Namibia.’

Keep your anecdotes focused on your life after you began college

It is common for graduate school applicants to start their personal statements with an anecdote about something that happened during childhood or high school. On the surface, this makes sense because that event was what started the journey that has culminated in an application to the program. However, graduate programs are for professionals, and writing about your childhood is more appropriate for an undergraduate essay than one for graduate school. If you feel that you absolutely must include something from your childhood, use it as the starting sentence of your concluding paragraph.

Know your program and make connections

Securing acceptance into a graduate program is more about being the best match than about being the most highly qualified. Among applicants who meet the program’s minimum requirements, they’ll choose an enthusiastic and informed applicant over one with higher test scores and a better GPA who doesn’t seem to know much about their program.

During your graduate studies, you’ll likely do research, and graduate programs want to know that you can both participate in ongoing research as well as find a mentor for your own project. In your essay, write about professors in the programs whose work interests you and why. Also, there is life outside of the classroom. Does the school have a close-knit traditional college campus? Is it located in the heart of the city? Especially if you will be moving with your family, show the admissions officers that you will thrive in their environment.

Finish with a strong statement about why the school is your top pick

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the school is your only pick. However, generic essays have no place in the graduate school application process. Form letters aren’t persuasive, and generic essays won’t help your application package. If you can’t sincerely write that the school is a top pick, then why are you applying there? Instead, focus on creating stellar essays for the ones that actually interest you. Help the admissions officers understand your overarching vision for your future career and how your time at the school will prepare you to realize these goals.

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An MBA: Will it earn you more money?


MBA degrees enjoy great prestige in Asia, with the lure of bigger salaries and a passport to a new, high-flying career – but is a postgrad degree just the new normal?

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) brand is steeped in tradition and prestige. It’s a brand that has been built over 107 years, since eight people received the world’s first MBA degree from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1910.

Today the MBA is among the world’s most popular and respected postgraduate degrees and people are enrolling in ever-increasing numbers at the thousands of business schools across the globe.

Last year, Harvard’s MBA program enrolled 1859 new students from 9543 applicants. At a cost of more than US$200,000 over two years for tuition, room, fees, board and other associated costs at the Boston campus, Harvard is one of the most expensive places to get an MBA.

Add to that the lost income from taking a two-year hiatus from your job while you study full-time and, unless you can land a scholarship, that Harvard MBA could cost you in excess of US$300,000.

However, for many people, the significant time and financial investment is well worth it for the boost up the corporate ladder and higher earning power an MBA delivers.

At least, that’s the perception.

How much of that higher earning power can be attributed to having the three letters behind your name, and how much is due to the drive and dedication of the person willing to pursue an MBA is difficult to measure.

A growing market

What is known is that the MBA is a huge global business. It’s a market that is rapidly evolving and there’s no sign the growth is slowing.

In Australia, the MBA market is worth A$500 million, according to MBA News Australia, with 20,000 students currently studying at more than 30 Australian schools. The average MBA program in Australia costs about A$47,500.

In 1991, there were only nine MBA programs in China; now there are 236. The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai is the top-ranked business school in Asia on the Financial Times (FT) ranking system.

Five Chinese schools are listed in the FT top 50, as well as two in Singapore, three in India and one, Sydney’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), in Australia.

Two other Australian schools make the Top 100 – University of New South Wales Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), ranked at 54, and Melbourne Business School, ranked at 76.

Globally, FT ranks INSEAD, which has campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, as the world’s best.

Salary surge for graduates

Like many of the ranking systems, the 2017 FT list is based on surveys of the business schools and their 2013 graduates. Career progression and salary growth are among the criteria, and the ranking system suggests the school you choose can bring significant advantages.

Stanford Graduate School of Business alumni report an average salary of about US$195,000 three years after graduation compared to those from Incae Business School in Costa Rica, whose average salary is the lowest on the Top 100 table at about US$90,000.

However, it pays to look deeper into the statistics before making a decision on which school is right for you. Those at Incae may earn less on a dollar figure, but it represents a 142 per cent salary increase compared to what they were earning before their MBA. That ranks the Costa Rican school at number five in terms of value for money compared to Stanford’s 74th place with a 95 per cent salary increase. Stanford is the number one school for career progression but Incae still fares well in seventh place.

Asia setting MBA benchmarks

MBA News Australia founder and editor Ben Ready says Asia is driving a lot of the growth in MBAs through heavy investment in its business schools. That investment, he says, has lured excellent students and achieved great results.

“Asia is setting the benchmarks for what a great MBA should be,” says Ready. “Within a decade or so it could well be challenging some of the old global favourites and elites that have held the crown for so many years.”

Ready warns it can be easy to get bogged down by the status of a business school and suggests looking for the school that best fits in with your life and offers prime value for what you can afford.

The INSEAD campus at Fontainebleau in France offers the world’s highest ranked MBA.
The INSEAD campus at Fontainebleau in France offers the world’s highest ranked MBA.

“Ultimately, the prestige of the school you got your MBA at will only be one part of the decision to hire you,” says Ready. “Sometimes people put a little too much credence on the school; [more] than is warranted. An MBA shows you have the enthusiasm and desire to further yourself in your career and demonstrates you can commit to the work involved to achieve your MBA.

“It is a clear statement of your intent to your current or future employer that you are ready to take your career to the next level.”

The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) offers one of the cheapest accredited MBA degrees in Australia. Its Agile MBA is all provided online at a cost of about A$26,000, compared with the more than A$80,000 you would pay at any of the three FT-ranked Australian universities. It’s also the largest MBA school in Australia, with more than 4300 current students and in excess of 4500 global alumni.

AIB’s joint CEO Joel Abraham says while there are no guarantees, evidence does show an MBA increases your chances of success.

“It’s a table stake,” says Abraham. “It’s showing how seriously you are taking your profession and your career.” The MBA, he says, is a marathon that requires hard work over a substantial period of time and “only those with the true belief to achieve their desire will see it through”.

He says people will determine prestige on many different factors – is it the highest fees, or the one with most PhD holders on staff, or the one with the best research reputation? Abraham suggests outcomes are what matters most.

Attempting the triple jump

Some people choose to study their MBA because they believe it will help them in the global career market. Others hope to change industry or improve their salary through career progression. A smaller number want to make the triple jump – changing sector, salary and geography all in one bold move.

The MBA is considered a generalist business degree for those with a specialist trade – whether you’re an accountant, a lawyer or a hospital administrator.

“As you develop you get more skills and, as you become middle or senior management, you use less technical knowledge and the skill set required for those roles changes,” explains Ready.

“As a lawyer you might need to learn more about the finances, if you are in finance you may need to know more about the law, and if you are in human resources you may need more business strategy. An MBA takes you into all those areas.”

A survey of AIB’s alumni in 2017 found 40 per cent of alumni have changed job function since starting their MBA; 22 per cent have changed industries; 47 per cent received a pre-tax annual income increase within 12 months of graduation and an average annual income growth of 11 per cent after graduation.

In addition, statistics from the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2016 Year-End Poll of Employers Report found nearly eight in 10 employers plan to hire MBA graduates and 71 per cent of employers found recruiting graduates with a business masters program was a priority in their hiring plans.

Where MBAs don’t rate so highly

However, for Hudson’s accounting and finance recruitment specialist, Barry Hodson, the MBA is rarely part of his key selection criteria.

He says jobs in the finance sector are hotly contested and employers are looking for professionals with relevant industry experience as well as soft skills such as adaptability, critical thinking, the ability to influence, and communication skills.

Hodson says while there are many CFOs without an MBA, very few would be without a CPA designation or equivalent. An MBA, says Hodson, is for those who want to extend out of their area of expertise and move into broader roles in the business world.

“Ultimately, the prestige of the school you got your MBA at will only be one part of the decision to hire you.” Ben Ready, MBA News Australia

Higher education researcher and policy analyst at the University of Melbourne, Dr Gwilym Croucher, says almost 40 per cent of people aged 25 to 34 now have a bachelor degree, compared to 25 per cent of the total working population. In the 1970s that bachelor degree percentage was about 3 per cent.

Just as there has been phenomenal growth in the number of tertiary-qualified people in the workforce, the number of postgraduates has also ballooned.

“International evidence shows having a bachelor degree is extremely beneficial over the course of a working life,” says Croucher. “The 2011 [Australian] Census confirmed that having a degree increases your income by A$1 million to A$1.5 million, or more, over the course of your lifetime, compared to if you just completed Year 12. Postgraduates get more than that again, but not at the same rate.”

Croucher says the increasing proportion of workers with university qualifications means saturation point is approaching, but it will take many years before that filters through to the labour market.

The MBA’s golden age

If an MBA is no longer rare, does it still hold value? Has the exploding number of schools offering an MBA meant a decline in teaching standards?

According to an article in the Financial Times (FT) this year, salaries commanded by MBA graduates after three years back in the workplace increased by the largest amount in a decade.

It reported the highest paying sector for MBA graduates from schools on the FT Top 100 list was financial services, followed by e-commerce, and says the past three years have been “a golden age” for MBA jobs, as sectors not traditionally associated with hiring from business schools now seek out candidates with business qualifications.

However, an article in The Economist in June 2016 says the number of MBAs awarded by business schools in the US has increased seven-fold since 1970, and the employment market is struggling to keep up. It suggests other Masters-level degrees may serve some people better in their search for an executive-level job.

Taking the alternative route

Networking, global study opportunities and broadening of perspectives are among the sought-after MBA offerings. However, as technology brings the world closer together, these opportunities are readily available through non-MBA routes, including online networks and forums, as well as workshops and conferences.

While there is some evidence the brand of an MBA school can propel you further, it’s not the only consideration. An MBA can be valuable for developing skills such as negotiation, diplomacy and personal branding. Most MBA graduates surveyed by FT report a high level of satisfaction, regardless of the school they attended.

“There’s no golden ticket for going to a prestigious university,” says Croucher.

What’s important when selecting a school, he says, is ensuring it links to your area of specialty and that the course content draws on research, knowledge and understands contemporary practice.

Ready rates subject matter, teacher quality, sharp content and access to networks as among the features to look out for.

He says one of the real values of an MBA is the strong friendships forged under pressure.

“The strategy or finance theory might be outdated 10 years on, but you’ll always have those relationships,” he says.

Ready believes the MBA’s future remains strong. The last four years have indicated a trend towards the emergence of specialization, but Ready claims much of it is driven by marketing from business schools trying to differentiate themselves.

“There was a bit of a lull after the GFC [global financial crisis] because a lot of people get a company to fund their MBA, and a lot of companies had tightened their belts,” says Ready.

“So there was a little smell around the MBA at that time, but it has taken the mantle again as the postgraduate business degree to have.”

Does an MBA still help you climb the corporate ladder and give you higher earning power?

“Those three letters are so telling about the quality and the pedigree of the individual.”

UT McCombs School Fall 2019 MBA Essay Tips


The UT McCombs School of Business is a globally recognized MBA program, located in Austin, Texas, a center of technology and business for the region.

When approaching these essay questions think about the reasons you are pursuing an MBA, particularly at McCombs. Thorough school research will help you come up with specifics, by talking to current or former students, visiting campus, or attending admissions events.

Stacey Kammerdiener, Senior Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Officer advises, “While it may be tempting, do us (and yourself) a favor and avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes. Instead, approach your essays genuinely and with reflection.” More advice can be found at the


Introduce yourself.
Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

• Write an essay (250 words), OR
• Share a video introduction (one minute)


For an open-ended essay with a creative option (the video), it can be daunting to think of a topic. Rather than focusing on how you are going to communicate, start thinking about what you want to communicate to the Texas MBA admissions committee by introducing yourself to your new study group.

The best essays will dive deep into your motivations and aspirations, perhaps getting into your cultural background, formative moments in your life and friends, family and colleagues who have influenced you. To identify one or two key stories you may want to tell, think about those pivotal moments of change in your life.

For many people, the transition from high school to college and from college to work led to personal change. Others had formative childhood experiences or experiences that led to shifts in perspective like travel or living outside your home country. Anyone of these moments could be a good way to illustrate who you are and what motivates you.

Once you have identified the content of your essay you can decide how to present it. A video could give you the opportunity to add elements of emotion, such as humor, that are harder to convey in writing. A video also allows you to include graphics, photos or other visual elements. If your story fits better into a written narrative you may choose the written essay instead.

If you choose a video essay you will still want to write a script for your video. Think about the bullet points you want to cover and any important points you need to convey. If you decide to talk into the camera, rehearsing will be especially important, and consider having a friend or family member there so you can talk to a person instead of the camera. If you are able to edit the video after you record footage it will be easier to keep it smooth and on topic. Either way, make sure you take the time to record several takes of the video content so you can choose the best one to submit to McCombs.


Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your two years as a Texas MBA student, and how that experience helped to prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)


This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate strong fit with the Texas MBA program. As part of your homework before starting this set of essays you have hopefully learned as much as possible about the school, now you can bring in your own aspirations and goals. Use your imagination to think about how you might describe your MBA experience at graduation. You’ll likely have experienced both professional and personal growth, and met interesting people who will be part of your lifelong network.

To help you get started, research some of the unique opportunities at McCombs like the Venture Labs, if you have entrepreneurial dreams, and The MBA+ Program, with opportunities to work with influential companies through a variety of touch points. Being part of the city of Austin is another unique benefit to the program that you may want to consider in the context of your background and goals.

For example, perhaps you were interested in working for a major technology firm to learn product management skills to use in starting your own business. While at McCombs you might have tested ideas with the Venture Labs, and also consulted for major companies like Adobe or HP to learn how large companies worked. These experiences were likely formative as you made career plans.

Don’t forget the personal – McCombs has an active and engaged student culture with many student organizations you likely joined. And your classmates and friends you made in the program were definitely an influence as well.

It is always useful to read other people’s work to get a sense of what good essays are. To assist you, TopAdmit provides you some MBA essay samples written by counselors and editors hailing from prestigious schools including Harvard. This page contains personal statement samples, statement of purpose samples, and application essay samples for college. But please remember, these are for your reference only; it is not to your benefit to copy their style or concepts. It not only violates academic ethics and could lead to an automatic rejection by the admissions committee — the point of our service is to help you construct a unique essay — not one similar to other essays.



College enrollment rates are rising among Hispanic men and women in the United States. Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows that 2.2 million Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in a two-year or four-year degree program in 2015; this figure represents a threefold increase since 1993. This rise in postsecondary attendance is largely attributable to the nation’s growing Hispanic population and a sharp decline in the high school dropout rate among this demographic. According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), the percentage of college students who identify as Hispanic rose from 4% to 15% between 1976 and 2012. Hispanic students reached a new milestone in 2012 when, for the first time, Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college at a higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates one in four college students will identify as Hispanic by 2020.



Persistent educational challenges continue to affect the Hispanic community, however. Many college-bound Hispanic men and women come from low-income families, and tuition rates for in-state students at public universities have risen 296% over the past 20 years. Consequently, many of these students are forced to absorb student loans to afford their degree. These loans carry steep monthly minimum payments and interest rates that can affect borrowers for decades.



Pew Research data shows that 22% of Hispanic students have outstanding student debt. While this is the lowest rate of debt among student racial groups, it should be noted that nearly half of all Hispanic students complete their education at a two-year community or technical college. These programs tend to be significantly less expensive than four-year programs, but they are also less likely to help students secure meaningful post-college employment. As of 2015, only 15% of Hispanics aged 25 to 29 held a bachelor’s degree in any subject.


Family obligations present another challenge to Hispanic learners. A 2015 survey by the National Journal found that two-thirds of Hispanic men and women who sought full-time work or joined the military after high school claimed to have done so in order to financially support their loved ones. By comparison, only 39% of white men and women who bypassed college made the same claim.


First-generation Hispanic college students face additional obstacles. The percentage of first-generation students at all U.S. postsecondary four-year institutions fell from 38.5% to below 16% between 1971 and 2005, according to a report from UCLA. A study by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) further estimates that up to half of Latino parents have not received any postsecondary education. Many educational experts agree that parents without a college background are unable to fully prepare their children for the rigorous academics and the social pressures of institutionalized higher education. “Without family background in the college experience,” the study notes, “these students may find it difficult to fully engage in college life, which can lead them to drop out and not complete a degree.”


Language barriers are another factor. Hispanics made up 46% of all U.S. immigrants in 2013, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, and the National Education Association (NEA) notes that roughly 80% of the country’s English Language Learners (ELLs) identify as Hispanic. Despite a widespread emphasis on English instruction in U.S. public schools, however, less than 20% of k-12 ELL students earn average or above-average reading comprehension scores. Furthermore, up to 10% of ELL students between the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to repeat a grade every year. The lack of English speakers in the home is a major reason for these trends.


Another underrepresented group are the children of Hispanic migrant workers. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program serves approximately 345,000 Hispanic students between the ages of three and 21. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) offers financial support for college freshmen, along with five-year tuition grants, but because migrant families are constantly on the move, these students often perform poorly in the classroom and their secondary school dropout rates are higher than non-migrant students.


Roughly 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. The U.S. Department of Education guarantees public education for undocumented children through grade 12. Additionally, there are no federal or state laws prohibiting undocumented men and women from applyng to, enrolling in, and graduating from public or private colleges. A survey by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) found that 32% of public postsecondary institutions admitted undocumented student applicants.

However, many schools categorize undocumented students as “foreign”, thus making them ineligible for both federal financial aid and in-state reduced tuition rates. The Obama administration has introduced a bill known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that would create a college pathway for undocumented students by providing them with permanent residency. However, the DREAM Act has yet to receive congressional approval as of April, 2016.


Students in the U.S. must be permanent residents before they can receive federal financial aid. Most immigrants earn permanent residency by applying for a Green Card, but current laws stipulate that undocumented citizens are unable to take this path; they must instead leave the United States and apply for permanent residency from a consulate office in their home country.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, seeks to ease college admission challenges for undocumented students. Under DACA, undocumented children who enter the U.S. prior to age 16 receive “deferred action status” and are categorized as DACA Students. They may also be able to obtain a social security number (SSN). While DACA students are still ineligible for federal financial aid, those with a valid SSN are able to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and they may receive state- or institution-sponsored funding.

DACA students may also qualify for reduced in-state tuition, although discounted rates are often available. A total of 18 U.S. states currently offer provisions for undocumented students to receive discounted in-state tuition. These include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington. In contrast, three states have barred reduced in-state tuition for undocumented students: Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana. The remaining 29 states are classified as unstipulated.

Undocumented students should meet with their high school career counselor to discuss financial aid options for college. Most DACA students with a valid SSN are urged to complete a FAFSA in order to learn about state- and institution-based financial aid options. The Department of Education offers the following tips for DACA students who wish to fill out a FAFSA:


  • The FAFSA does account for the citizenship status of the applicant’s parents, but the form requests the SSNs of both parents. Applicants must write in 000-00-0000 for the SSN for any undocumented parent or legal guardian.

  • Applicants will encounter the following question: “Are you a U.S. citizen?” Undocumented students must check the box for “No, I am not a citizen or eligible noncitizen.”

  • There are also questions inquiring about the “legal state of residence” for the applicant and their parents. The correct answer will vary, as each U.S. state has different requirements for legal state residency. Applicants should consult their on-campus career counselor before completing this section.

  • The online FAFSA form features an IRS Data Retrieval tool that allows applicants to submit their tax information and their parents’ tax information. If the applicant or their parents did not file an income tax return during the previous year, then tax information may be entered manually.


The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) program was enacted through Title V of the Higher Education Act. HSI status is conferred on not-for-profit postsecondary institutions where at least 25% of full-time students identify as Hispanic. Under Title V, eligible HSIs can receive grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Grant funding is then used to build on-campus resources and bolster support services for Hispanic students. Today, HSIs are represented by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU); although HACU members comprise only 10% of U.S. postsecondary institutions, these colleges and universities are home to more than two-thirds of the nation’s Hispanic student population.

The rising number of HSIs in the U.S. directly correlates with the increasing number of Hispanic students enrolling in accredited college programs. There were 245 recognized HSIs in 2005, and as of 2014-15, there were 435 recognized HSIs that collectively enrolled more than 1.8 million students. The states with the most HSIs are California with 152, Texas with 78, Florida with 24, and New Mexico with 23. Additionally, Puerto Rico has 63 recognized HSIs.

latin_scholarships_guide-copyscholarship is a monetary gift for students to use for funding their postsecondary education. Scholarships do not need to be paid back, making them a desirable alternative to student loans. Scholarships may be used to pay for education-related costs including tuition, books, and other course materials. Some scholarships may also be used to cover food, room-and-board, laundry, and day-to-day expenses.

Thousands of different scholarships are available. Merit-based scholarships are typically given to students with high GPAs or an extensive record of community service. Other scholarships may be allotted to certain groups of people, including women or minority students. There are also scholarship options for students who demonstrate financial need.

In order to qualify for most scholarships, students must first complete an application. While the nature of these applications will vary by award, most will include the following general criteria:

  • Grades/Transcripts: Most scholarships (merit- and non-merit-based) require a minimum GPA for consideration; this minimum is usually 2.5 or higher. Additionally, some impose minimum scores on the SAT, ACT, or other college admissions tests.
  • Essay: Many scholarships require applicants to complete an original written testimonial explaining why they deserve the award.
  • Letters of Recommendation: A scholarship application may ask for letters of recommendation from teachers, school counselors, former employers, and other people who have interacted with the student in an educational or professional environment. These letters should not come from friends, relatives, or family acquaintances.
  • College Information: Many scholarships will only award money to applicants who have enrolled or plan to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution within the following year. Some are only allotted to students who plan to pursue certain fields of study.
  • Other Financial Aid: For needs-based scholarships, applicants may need to prove they are not receiving federal financial aid, additional scholarships, grants, or other forms of monetary support.


  • Begin your scholarship search during your freshman year of high school and compile an organized, comprehensive list of options before your senior year. Earning scholarship funding is essentially a numbers game; the more scholarships you apply to, the more financial support you’re likely to receive.
  • Apply to every scholarship award for which you are eligible. Smaller scholarships are generally less competitive, and these awards can increase your overall support.
  • Fill out all applications in pencil and be sure to proofread each section for misspelled words, grammatical errors, and awkward phrasing.
  • Essays should be personal and heartfelt. Applicants should take this opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills and speak directly to the scholarship committee; be as expressive and direct as possible.
  • If an online option is unavailable, submit your application to the scholarship committee by direct mail. In either case, be sure to keep a copy for your records in case the original application is not received.
  • Be mindful of deadlines and make sure every application has been finished and submitted before its due date.


Students who are unfamiliar with scholarship applications should seek advice from educational experts. Here are a few online resources for scholarship applicants to peruse:

QuestBridge: This organization provides assistance and support to low-income and underprivileged men and women with college aspirations. QuestBridge’s website features links to more than a dozen scholarship databases.

FastWeb!: This comprehensive financial aid database allows users to customize scholarship criteria in order to generate a list of applicable awards. This organization “works to engage private sector support for programs and policies that advance equity in postsecondary education.” Their site links to 15 government-sponsored and private financial aid databases. The scholarship aggregator on this U.S. government-sponsored site lets users customize scholarship options by award type, education level, state of residence, and award sponsor.

BigFuture: CollegeBoard’s customizable scholarship aggregator allows users to browse more than 2,200 scholarships, internships, and other financial aid opportunities.

Some of the most common scholarships include:

Colleges and Universities: Most postsecondary institutions offer scholarships to current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students. Many scholarships are specific to major fields of study or offered exclusively to students in certain gender or minority groups.

Foundations: Students should explore scholarship opportunities through established businesses and professional organizations affiliated with their proposed field of study. Other foundational awards are available through women’s or minority rights advocacy groups.

Local Community Organizations: Scholarships are often offered through community-based groups such as churches, youth centers, rotary clubs, and chambers of commerce. While these awards tend to be smaller in monetary value, they are also typically less competitive than national or statewide scholarships.

UC Board of Regents approves policy on nonresident student enrollment


The University of California Board of Regents today (May 18) approved a policy on nonresident undergraduate enrollment that reaffirms UC’s historic commitment to California residents by limiting the proportion of out-of-state and international students at its nine undergraduate campuses.

Under the policy, the first of its kind at UC, nonresident enrollment will be capped at 18 percent at five UC campuses. At the other four campuses where the proportion of nonresidents exceeds 18 percent — UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego — nonresident enrollment will be capped at the proportion that each campus enrolls in the 2017–18 academic year.

“Our new nonresident enrollment policy strikes the right balance between UC’s continued commitment to putting California students first and the significant benefits that out-of-state and international students provide the university,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “This policy represents a broad consensus achieved after extensive consultation with regents, legislators and other stakeholders.”

The state’s Budget Act of 2016 called for the UC Board of Regents to adopt a policy limiting the number of undergraduate nonresidents as a condition for receiving $18.5 million to support the enrollment of an additional 2,500 California resident undergraduates in the upcoming academic year.

UC is not only on track to enroll an additional 2,500 Californians this fall, but through an agreement with the state, it enrolled more than 7,400 additional California residents in fall 2016, the largest year-to-year jump in California resident enrollment since the end of World War II.

UC’s strong focus on serving in-state undergraduates is unique among many top-ranked public institutions. UC nonresident undergraduate students currently make up about 16.5 percent of total undergraduates systemwide, compared with an average of 27.9 percent for the public institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU). In fact, all UC campuses enroll less than one-quarter of their undergraduates from outside California — well below the average proportion of nonresident enrollment for public AAU institutions.

“True to the university’s mission, our nonresident enrollment policy underscores our unwavering commitment to the students of the state under the California Master Plan for Higher Education by offering a place on at least one of our campuses to every California applicant who meets UC’s requirements for admission,” Napolitano said. “It also reaffirms our pledge that nonresident students will be enrolled only in addition to, and never in place of, Californians.”

The newly adopted policy also calls for the UC Board of Regents to review the nonresident policy in at least four years. Periodic review of the policy will allow the regents to assess its efficacy in maintaining and enhancing the educational experience and access of California students.

University of California Admission by exam


If you don’t meet UC’s minimum requirements, you may be considered for admission to UC if you earn high scores on the ACT with Writing or SAT and two SAT Subject Tests.

In general, this method of consideration is designed for students who have been unable to meet the regular subject requirements and/or earn a high school diploma because of unique circumstances, such as non-traditional education or long-term illness.

To be considered, you must take either the ACT with Writing or the SAT, as well as two SAT Subject Tests.

You must earn a minimum UC Score total — calculated according to the instructions below — of 410 (425 for nonresidents). In addition, you must achieve a minimum UC score of 63 on each component of the exams.

You may not use a SAT Subject Test to meet these requirements if they have completed a transferable college course with a grade of C or better in that subject.

How to convert your test scores to UC Scores:

If you took the SAT Reasoning Test (prior to March 2016):

  • Convert the highest scores in critical reading, math and writing from a single sitting and the two highest SAT Subject Tests from different subject areas to equivalent UC Scores (see the SAT test score translation table).
  • Add all five UC Scores to produce your UC Score total. For example: critical reading + math + writing + Subject Test 1 + Subject Test 2 = UC Score total.

If you took the SAT with Essay exam (starting March 2016)

  • Using scores from a single sitting, convert the new reading, math, and writing & language scores to the old SAT scores using the tables listed below. Get the equivalent UC Scores for the three converted scores using the SAT test score translation table.
  • Convert the two highest SAT Subject Tests from different subject areas to equivalent UC Scores using the SAT test score translation table.
  • Add all five UC Scores to produce your UC Score total.

SAT w/ Essay

Critical Reading

40 800
39 760
38 720
37 700
36 680
35 660
34 640
33 610
32 590
31 570
30 550
29 530
28 520
27 500
26 480
25 460
24 440
23 420
22 400
21 380
20 370
19 340
18 310
17 280
16 270
15 260
14 250
13 240
12 220
11 210
10 200

SAT w/ Essay


800 800
790 780
780 760
770 750
760 740
750 720
740 710
730 700
720 690
710 680
700 670
690 660
680 650
670 650
660 640
650 630
640 620
630 610
620 600
610 590
600 580
590 570
580 560
570 550
560 530
550 520
540 510
530 500
520 490
510 470
500 460
490 450
480 440
470 430
460 420
450 410
440 400
430 390
420 380
410 370
400 360
390 350
380 340
370 330
360 310
350 300
340 290
330 280
320 280
310 270
300 260
290 260
280 250
270 240
260 240
250 230
240 220
230 220
220 210
210 200
200 200

SAT w/ Essay
Writing & Language

Old SAT Writing

40 800
39 760
38 740
37 710
36 680
35 650
34 630
33 600
32 570
31 550
30 530
29 510
28 490
27 470
26 450
25 430
24 420
23 400
22 380
21 370
20 350
19 340
18 320
17 300
16 280
15 270
14 260
13 240
12 230
11 220
10 200


SAT test score translation

SAT Score

UC Score

SAT Score

UC Score

800 100 490 48
790 98 480 47
780 97 470 45
770 95 460 43
760 93 450 42
750 92 440 40
740 90 430 38
730 88 420 37
720 87 410 35
710 85 400 33
700 83 390 32
690 82 380 30
680 80 370 28
670 78 360 27
660 77 350 25
650 75 340 23
640 73 330 22
630 72 320 20
620 70 310 18
610 68 300 17
600 67 290 15
590 65 280 13
580 63 270 12
570 62 260 10
560 60 250 8
550 58 240 7
540 57 230 5
530 55 220 3
520 53 210 2
510 52 200 0
500 50

If you took the ACT Plus Writing:

  • Convert the highest math, reading, science and combined English/writing or ELA score from a single sitting to equivalent UC Scores (see the translation table below).
  • Multiply the sum of the converted math, reading and science scores by two-thirds, then add the converted English/writing or ELA score.
  • Add this subtotal to your two highest SAT Subject Test scores from two different subject areas, which are also converted to equivalent UC Scores. For example: (math + reading + science) x 0.667 + English/writing + Subject Test 1 + Subject Test 2) = UC Score total.
ACT test score translation

ACT Score

UC Score

ACT Score

UC Score

36 100 20 47
35 97 19 43
34 93 18 40
33 90 17 37
32 87 16 33
31 83 15 30
30 80 14 27
29 77 13 23
28 73 12 20
27 70 11 17
26 67 10 13
25 63 9 10
24 60 8 7
23 57 7 3
22 53 1-6 0
21 50

University of California Admissions: SAT Subject Tests


While SAT Subject Tests are not required, some campuses recommend that freshman applicants interested in competitive majors take the tests to demonstrate subject proficiency.

Recommendations for fall 2017 applicants

Remember, these are recommendations, not mandates. You will not be penalized for failing to take the SAT Subject Tests. On the other hand, submission of these test scores (just like submission of AP and/or IB scores) may add positively to the review of your application.


College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.


Not recommended for any area.


Claire Trevor School of the Arts: recommends that freshman applicants take any SAT Subject Tests that will demonstrate the student’s strengths.

Henry Samueli School of Engineering (including the joint Computer Science and Engineering major): Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Biology M, Chemistry, and/or Math Level 2.

School of Physical Sciences: Math Level 2.

Program in Public Health Sciences: Biology E, Biology M, and/or Chemistry.

Program in Public Health Policy: Biology E, Biology M, and/or World History.

Los Angeles

Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.


No recommendation at this time.


College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Bourns College of Engineering: Math 2 and Chemistry or Physics, for all majors

San Diego

Jacobs School of Engineering and biological or physical sciences majors: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.

Santa Barbara

College of Engineering: Math Level 2

College of Creative Studies:

  • Math Level 2 for math majors
  • Math Level 2 and Physics for physics majors
  • Biology for biology majors
  • Chemistry for biochemistry and chemistry majors
  • Math Level 2 for computing majors

Santa Cruz

Not recommended for any area.


Submission deadline

Freshman applicants for fall 2017 must arrange to have official score reports sent to us by December 2016. If you plan to take an exam December, indicate the planned test date on your admission application.

And don’t worry — if you report your scores to one campus, they will be shared with every campus to which you’ve applied.

California to Limit Foreign University Students


A new policy takes effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year and will limit enrollment of non-California residents to 18 percent of the student population at five University of California campuses: Santa Barbara, Davis, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Merced.

The other four campuses, in Los Angeles (UCLA), Berkeley, Irvine and San Diego, have more than 18 percent non-Californian students. They will be barred from further increasing the proportion of non-state residents in the new school year, which begins in late August on most campuses.

Qualified California students ‘losing out’

The state Board of Regents approved the new limits Thursday, following a release of an auditor’s report that said California high school graduates who otherwise were qualified for university admission have been losing out to non-state residents.

A tactic the universities adopted years ago — encouraging the enrollment of out-of-state residents, who pay higher fees than Californians, to circumvent state government funding cutbacks — “has made it more difficult for California residents to gain admission,” state auditor Elaine Howle said.

The issue was hotly debated before the Board of Regents voted to enact limits on foreign and out-of-state students.

Board of Regents member Hadi Makarechian came to California from Iran in the 1960s as an international student. He warned that the 18 percent limits will prompt talented international students to look elsewhere for college.

Overall, about 3,800 foreign undergrads

“I know the in thing today is to build walls, but we are building a wall around the University of California by doing this,” Makarechian said.

The California state university system, one of the largest in the United States, has about 210,000 undergraduates, about 16.5 percent of whom are non-Californians.

Less than 11 percent of the out-of-state undergraduates, about 3,800 individuals, are international students, coming to the U.S. from about 100 countries.

Some of the financial pressures that confront the Board of Regents emerged during this week’s meeting: California’s state-run colleges receive about $61,000 in tuition and other fees each year from non-state residents, while state residents pay about $27,000 less.

International students’ economic boost

International students who attend public or private colleges and universities in California add $5.2 billion to the state’s economy, according to official estimates. Nationwide, international students add $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the National Association of International Educators.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block told the regents earlier this year that higher tuition from non-state residents helped the school avoid cuts in class offerings as state education spending dropped.

However, a state lawmaker, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, said he and other legislators have been hearing from parents that their children were being denied admission to state universities in favor of out-of-state students with “lower academic scores.”

University of California President Janet Napolitano listens during a meeting of the Board of Regents, May 18, 2017, in San Francisco.

University of California President Janet Napolitano listens during a meeting of the Board of Regents, May 18, 2017, in San Francisco.


University of California President Janet Napolitano said the new limit on out-of-state residents is balanced and supports “our pledge that non-resident students will be enrolled only in addition to, and never in place of, Californians.”

Napolitano, who served as Secretary of Homeland Security under former President Barack Obama, said the state university system still provides opportunities for students from around the world.

Stiff competition among applicants

Competition for admission at California universities is intense.

UCLA received 102,000 applications for the freshman class whose classes begin August 21. It was the first time that more than 100,000 students applied. Last year, UCLA accepted about 17,500 freshmen, including about 40 percent non-Californians, or 4,600 Americans from other states and 2,500 foreign students.

Overall, the California system received 210,000 undergraduate applications for the 2017-2018 academic year, including 33,995 from out of state and 32,647 from international students, more than 31 percent of the total. Those numbers also reflect a 1.1 percent drop in the number of applications from foreign students.

International Graduates Winning Right to Work in U.S.


International Graduates Winning Right to Work in U.S. - Topadmit

Study shows approvals have gone up for “optional practical training” of up to three years. Students from China and India account for more than half of those winning the prized approvals.

Many international students who enroll at colleges in the United States long to get jobs in the U.S. after they graduate. And while there is no right to do so on the basis of student visas, a program that allows such employment — and whose future is unclear during the Trump administration — is growing.

The Pew Research Center on Thursday released data showing that the annual number of “optional practical training” approvals rose from 28,497 in 2008 to 136,617 in 2014. The OPT rights are a major incentive for students from some countries to enroll at American colleges. And some American experts on enrollment trends believe that uncertainty about OPT’s future could be discouraging some international students from enrolling.

In many ways, the OPT program is consistent with some of what President Trump has said about visas, which is that they should favor those who want to work in high-demand fields. The OPT program favors those who work in science and technology fields, as visas for them can last for three years after graduation. For others, the program only lasts one year. But as the Trump administration’s policies on immigration are fluid, many remain nervous about what could happen to the program.

STEM graduates are nearly half (49 percent) of those approved for OPT in the last three years. Since those in STEM can stay longer, the share of OPT visa holders in science and technology jobs continues to rise. By far, the top countries of origin for those winning OPT visas are India and China.

At the universities for which graduates have the most success at obtaining OPT, thousands have won them in recent years.

Top 10 Universities Whose Graduates Won OPT Visas, 2012-15

Rank University Number
1. University of Southern California 7,485
2. Columbia University 7,116
3. New York University 5,260
4. Carnegie Mellon University 4,485
5. City University of New York 4,329
6. University of Illinois 4,247
7. University of Michigan 4,216
8. Northeastern University 4,076
9. University of Texas at Dallas 4,039
10. University of Florida 3,742

By Scott Jaschik May 19, 2017

Canadian Colleges See Surge of Foreign Students. It’s Not Just Politics.

Maddie Zeif, a high school student from Vermont, plans to attend the University of British Columbia in the fall. (Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times)


Canadian universities may have a more international feel this fall.

Enrollment of international students will be sharply higher, universities say, and the incoming freshmen include large numbers of high school students from the United States. With the increase coming during the first year of a contentious presidency, there’s plenty of talk about the trend being an obvious reaction to President Trump.

“The so-called Trump effect is real when it comes to enrollment in Canada,” said Alan Shepard, president of Concordia University in Montreal. “Applications from international students for this coming fall’s semester have surged.”

But it’s not that simple. While plenty of students who have chosen Canada for higher education cite the political climate in the United States, admissions officers and students say economics remains the main motivation.

Maddie Zeif, 18, a high school student from Sunderland, Vt., said costs in Canada were cheaper than in the United States and were comparable even to in-state tuition at the University of Vermont. She’s going to the University of British Columbia in the fall.

“At U.B.C., I will be right in a city, at a very large university, right on the ocean, an hour from Whistler,” she said in an email, referring to the popular Canadian ski resort, “and I will be paying almost the same amount as my in-state tuition without factoring in any financial aid yet.”

Besides the cost and the political climate, students also say they were attracted by affordable health care, relative safety and a more relaxed atmosphere in Canada. Students from outside North America also point to the ease of immigration to Canada.

With about a million international students within its borders, the United States is still the leader in international education. Canada’s international student population, though, surged 92 percent from 2008 to 2015, reaching more than 350,000, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Final figures for this year’s application season are not yet available. But Canadian university officials say the early numbers suggest that Canada will be educating many more international students than ever this fall, particularly from the United States.

At Ryerson University in Toronto, for example, the number of international undergraduates, including from the United States, who have confirmed that they will attend in the fall is up nearly 50 percent over this time last year.

Nancy Gorosh of Houston just finished her freshman year at Concordia University in Montreal. (Credit: Michael Stravato for The New York Times)


University of Toronto officials said the enrollment of students from the United States for this fall had doubled from last school year, with a “yield” — the percentage of accepted students who commit to attend — of 25 percent compared with about 20 percent last year.

“We’re going to see record numbers of students from the U.S.,” said Ted Sargent, a vice president at the university, Canada’s largest.

Officials at the University of Toronto said they saw a jump in enrollments from other countries, too, with an increase of 75 percent from India and more than 60 percent from the Middle East and Turkey.

Smaller colleges like Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the number of applications from the United States had more than doubled this year.

Tuition at Canadian colleges is generally lower than at comparable universities in the United States, even though students from outside Canada pay a higher rate than locals do.

Also, the Canadian currency’s weakness relative to the United States dollar gives students headed to Canada an instant discount of about 26 percent.

Megan Ludwig, 23, from Prather, Calif., graduated from the University of Nevada with a bachelor’s degree in ecohydrology, which studies the interaction between water and ecosystems. But for her master’s, she decided on Canada. The economics were compelling.

“Canadian tuition is half the price per semester or less than most U.S. universities and scholarships for master’s positions are less competitive and more widely available,” Ms. Ludwig wrote in an email. She said she landed a stipend that was nearly double any of the offers she received in the United States.

Nancy Gorosh, 19, of Houston just finished her freshman year at Concordia. Last year, she was choosing between Concordia and Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island. Ms. Gorosh said her tuition and fees at Concordia next year will be about $12,400 a year; Hofstra would have been about $44,000.

Politics is on the minds of students choosing Canada for college, but their concerns are more nuanced than a simple dislike of Mr. Trump.

Sofía Solar Cafaggi of Mexico City got her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal. (Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)


“I don’t want to spend my college years worrying about what’s going to happen if I need an abortion,” Ms. Zeif said. “I don’t want to spend my college years worrying about what happens if I get caught with a little weed in my bag.”

Ankit Saxena, a 23-year-old engineer from New Delhi, will apply to graduate programs in the fall. He said Mr. Trump’s policies were one of many factors leading him to focus on Canada over the United States. He plans to apply to the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia, among others.

“Racial discrimination is becoming a big problem, and it’s really scary to hear about an Indian getting shot in the U.S. every week,” Mr. Saxena said.

Some students say the visa process for entering the United States is onerous, especially considering the uncertainty about how regulations might change. More than half of the international students in Canada plan to seek permanent residency, according to the Canadian international education bureau.

Marius Poyard, from France, said he had the option to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University, Manhattan College or the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec. But he couldn’t face the visa application process in the United States after having endured it for a summer program several years ago.

He complained about irrelevant questions asked online, the need to travel to Paris for an interview, and then a wait of hours for the interview, which consisted of a few questions he had already answered online. The Canadian process was simple, he said. “Everything is on the internet and is very fast.”

But Mr. Poyard said cost was another compelling reason to choose Canada. The University of Sherbrooke will cost less than a third of either option in the United States.

Sofia Solar Cafaggi, 29, of Mexico City, got her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal after turning down M.I.T. because of the cost. She was able to get permanent residency in Canada two years after graduating. Now she’s on her way to medical school. She said she was offered a full scholarship at a school in the United States but will be going to the University of Toronto.

“I can get citizenship upon graduation, whereas in the U.S. I’d be an alien for another decade and would need sponsorship for residency,” she said.

Jane White, of Carbondale, Ill., cited health care as a main reason for enrolling in a master’s program at Nipissing University in Ontario this fall. Under the Affordable Care Act, Ms. White was covered by her family’s insurance until she was 26. At 27, she’s now covered by a state plan, but she worries how she will be able to pay the $300 a month she needs for her asthma medication if the rules change.

Other medications require a periodic visit to a doctor, further raising the cost.

“My husband and I are both eligible for health care through the Canadian university,” she said.