Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reputation of the undergraduate college

Q. How much does the name of the undergraduate college matter?

All top schools do give some weightage to how good the undergraduate college is. When evaluating Indian applications, all top schools have definitely heard of the IITs, but have seldom heard of anything else (even the next-best colleges like NITs, BITS Pilani, Anna Unniversity, etc.). In fact, some times IIITs (Indian/International Institute of Information Technology) get confused with IITs and the IIIT applicants might thus have it lucky thanks to their easily mistakable name. But awareness is on the rise and a lot of the US schools now do recognize IIITs (as being distinct from IITs), BITS Pilani and a few other colleges in addition to the IITs. The importance of the "IIT" brand varies. In some top schools, it may be an absolute necessity to the extent that non-IIT applications are pretty much not evaluated at all. In others, it just adds a bit more of weight and trust to the application. Thus, cases which are on the borderline (say due to borderline GPA or GRE or other factors) and might have been rejected for a non-IITian, might just get accepted because of the "IIT" tag.

Stanford is one of the schools which does give importance to the IIT brand name, but not so much as to overlook other aspects of the application. It thus has an Indian student population such that the number of non-IITians pretty much equals the number of IITians. In summary, if you are at an IIT, stop worrying! If you are not, don't kill yourself about it - there might be a very small number of universities (and this list is becoming smaller every year) that might reject you on account of not being an IITian, but most schools will definitely do a fair evaluation of your application even otherwise. Provided your overall profile stands out, you should still be able be able to into most of the top graduate schools.

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