You just got accepted to university and now your mom wants to know what's next. No problem, Mom. We'll explain everything! We've provided detailed information that applies to Dubai students accepted to universities (undergraduate, graduate, and MBA) in the United States. Here are the next 10 steps in the process, taking you from acceptance to arrival.
1. Accept your university back by paying your deposit.
Once you've gotten your acceptance email from your chosen university, you have to accept them as well. If you have received more than one acceptance and aren't sure where you want to go, then check out our post on How to Choose Which University Acceptance to Accept. Almost all universities complete the acceptance (or rejection) process by mid-June (for Fall semester) so you can wait a little while if you are unsure (each university will specify this date in their acceptance email).
Usually universities will put all the instructions to accept your acceptance in the email they sent you (or the 3 or more emails they will send in rapid succession after they accept you). You'll be required to either email them back with your confirmation or click a link to be taken to a page on their site where you submit an online enrollment form. To make sure you're serious, universities also usually require you to submit a deposit, about $600, online with a credit card.
2. Set up an online student account to get updates on the process.
One or more university emails will also prompt you to set up an online student account. Some universities use different ones from the account you used when you were applying, some use the same ones. No matter what, set up your online student account early in the process so you can see the updates as documents are received. There also may be things you need to do that you don't receive an email about but should complete nevertheless.
3. Provide your financial verification.
This step is one of the most important in the process because it affects just about everything that happens from here on. Every student accepted to a university in the United States is required to provide financial verification in order to receive a student visa. The US government requires that student can prove they can pay for the entire first year of education (including tuition, fees, and housing) using liquid money sources. Basically, your parents (or sponsors) need to have that amount sitting in a bank account.
You'll be required to provide additional documentation:
If you have scholarships, you have to provide letters and information from the scholarship authority to show you don't need to have the money. If you scholarship is only a partial scholarship, you have to show you have cash for the remaining portion of your education.
Some of the requirements vary from university to university. We have seen universities that require bank letters from the bank manager rather than a form. Others required the forms to be notarized by a US registered notary that you can only find at the US Consulate in Dubai. Still others may have had you complete this step in the process when you apply, rather than after you are accepted.
Once you have completed your financial verification paperwork, you have to send it back to the university. Here are our tips:
4. Wait for your I-20 packet.
You completed step #3 so that you can receive an I-20 Application Packet (I-20 for short) from your university. The I-20 packet will allow you to schedule your visa interview and begin the process for you to receive a US student visa. Keep in mind, you CANNOT schedule a visa interview before you receive this packet because you have to provide a number on a bar code from the packet.
In general, universities can issue an I-20 about 1-2 weeks after they receive your financial verification forms. Typically, they send all I-20s going to international addresses via UPS International, which usually reaches most countries within 5 business days.
5. Gather the documents for your visa interview.
Just because you're waiting on your I-20 to arrive doesn't mean you should be chillin'. It's time to collect the documents for your visa interview. If you do this now, you can take the soonest interview and get this process over with quickly. Here's what you'll need for the interview:
Why do you need all this stuff? When you apply for a non-immigrant visa, the interviewing officer is allowed to presume that you plan to permanently stay in the U.S., unless you prove otherwise by demonstrating “ties to the home country." You have to gather enough evidence showing that you have these ties, usually through your family. Your application will likely be denied if the Consular Officer believes you intend to stay in the U.S. after your studies. The more documents you can show, the better off you'll be.
6. Once your I-20 packet arrives, schedule your student visa interview and pay your SEVIS Fee.
Once you have your I-20, you can apply for an F-1 student visa at a US Consulate in Dubai. If you will be a student, you cannot enter the U.S. on a visa that does not allow study (such as B-2, F-2, Visa Waiver Program, etc.). We recommend that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible after you get your I-20. Processing times for visa issuance vary and may require additional time due to security checks.
To schedule your interview, you have to complete a DS-160 Application for a Non-Immigrant Visa online. You can read more about this on the US Consulate in Dubai's website. Here are our tips:
Read all information on the I-20 carefully. Pay special attention to page two, where your legal responsibilities as an F-1 student in the United States are explained. Sign page one of the Form I-20, and provide the information requested if under 18 years of age.
Universities are required to enter accepted foreign students' names into SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System. After you receive your I-20, you are required to pay a SEVIS fee online at https://www.fmjfee.com/. The fee is $200 and paid online by credit card. When you get to the confirmation page, print one copy and PDF the same page (if you can) because you need it for the visa interview.
After you've completed your DS-160 and paid your SEViS fee, you'll be directed to the official US visa information and appointment scheduling website. Any other updates you need on your visa will be found there. Ypu can also pay the $160 student visa application fee.
7. Ace your student visa interview.
In addition to the documents you collected in step #5, you need to bring the following to your visa interview:
The US Consulate in Dubai has provided some great information and the video below on what happens on interview day.
Here are our tips:
You will find you that day if you have been approved, refused, or pending further review. In the past, our approved students gave their passports the same day and received the passport with visa stamp at home by courier 3 to 5 business days later.
If your application is marked pending, it could take a few weeks to a few months for the US Consulate to complete their review. Be sure to send an email to your university to keep them notified of the process. If you aren't approved for a visa by the time school starts, you can start the next term or defer your admission and start the next Fall.
8. Pay your housing deposit.
As soon as you receive an email from the Housing Department, pay your housing deposit. Getting university housing is an extremely competitive process and their is a chronic shortage of student housing. Although some universities guarantee all incoming freshmen a space in university housing if they want it, the best dorms always go first. You don't want to be tuck with the old dorms on the dodgy side of campus...so pay your deposit (usually about $600) as soon as you can.
9. Request your final transcript from your school.
Even though you've been accepted to university and properly have your student visa by now, most universities want a record of your grades from your last term or last year of high school. Before you leave high school for good, be sure to request that an official copy of your transcript is sent to your university. (This won't be necessary if you are a graduate or MBA applicant because you should already have an official transcript ready to send to your university.) If your school won't send one directly, make sure you receive a transcript in a sealed envelope with the school's address on it (like the one above). The envelope must either have the school stamp or an administrator's signature written over the flap.
10. Graduate and take a nice long vacation!
You finally made it! Graduation day is here and you're getting ready to go to university. We recommend that you hang out with your family, party with your friends, and take a nice long vacation. Not only did you earn it, but you need to rest up. Starting university is an emotional, exciting, and scary experience (we know) so you're going to need to be at your best.
Have any questions about the process after you have been accepted? Let us know in the comments!
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If you want to get a PhD in a business related subject or in a program offered through a business school, you'll probably have to take the GMAT (not the GRE). Here are a few programs and their GMAT average GMAT score:
University of California, Los Angeles: 712
University of Michigan: 732
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: 732
Purdue University: 674
Keep in mind that most PhD programs require at least a 650 on the GMAT.
Related: Less than 700 on the GMAT. Now what?
While some of the usual GMAT advice we give to MBA students applies to you, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind:
1. There are no rounds. While MBA program admissions usually take place over several months and three to four rounds, most PhD programs have one admission deadline in the fall (Oct. - Dec.). So basically, if you miss the deadline, you have to wait a year, not a few months. This fact makes proper planning and scheduling for the GMAT even more important. Plan to start your preparation for the GMAT in the early summer so you'll have at least 2 opportunities to take the GMAT before the deadline.
Related: Your GMAT Study Schedule
2. Start your application BEFORE you take the GMAT. Although there are usually fewer essays required for a PhD program than for an MBA, the application can be much more intense. Your personal statement will be highly scrutinized, your academic/professional CV must be perfect, and a department visit is a must. You can skip some steps if you're applying to 5 or more MBA programs (or submit very similar versions of your documentation), but not if you're applying to a PhD program.
3. Request recommendations early. Since least 1 recommendation must be from a former professor, you should ask for these early (preferably early August). Unlike a typical corporate recommender who is available year round, academic recommenders usually follow the academic calendar: they may be unavailable during the summer or extremely busy around the end of August or beginning of September when the new school year starts. If you ask for a recommendation then, your request will end up in a flooded email inbox. Make the process easy for them and yourself by contacting them in May to discuss the recommendation and their schedules for providing it. If you wait until the October, you're unlikely to get it within a month. Academic recommender's are also unlikely to allow you to write your own recommendation for them to submit (the typical corporate boss "trick" for quick recommendations).
4. The department should know you before the application. Most applicants don't realize that while MBA applications are reviewed by admissions personnel that only review applicants, it is a panel of professors and administrative staff within the business school that review and admit PhD applicants. Moreover, since PhD applicants have research and/or teaching responsibilities, your application will be evaluated through the lens of 1) what research contracts/grants/funding are available for incoming PhD students and 2) which professors need research/teaching assistants. Thus, your research interests and academic profile must match up with what professors are interested in AND what research they have funds to sponsor. It is essential that you research the department and each professor carefully to clearly show that you match an area of interest of a professor. You can start this process with online research but you MUST do a department (not just campus) visit and start a dialogue with different professors. Meet with professors, discuss their interests, do more listening than speaking, sell yourself a little, and make a great (professional) first impression. Once you've started this dialogue with 2 or 3 professors, be sure to email them every other month about something so you can keep the conversation going. Professors and administrative staff reviewing your application should be familiar with your profile before they see your application and GMAT score.
5. The GMAT is a minor part of your application. If you've followed our advice from the Point #4, you're well on your way to getting admitted to the PhD program of your choice. Professors should get to know you and your profile BEFORE they see your application (this process has nothing to do with your GMAT score). If you have made a good impression and the department considers you a good fit for its program, the GMAT really becomes a minor part of your application.
So what are the more important parts? Undergraduate and Masters grade point average (GPA) and proven research. Your GPA should be 3.5 or greater. Every PhD program has GPA requirements and if you couldn't meet them at an undergraduate or Masters level, from the department's perspective, you won't be able to meet them at the PhD level. Besides, you're supposed to be a scholar so your academic work and GPA should reflect that. In addition, you should have some proven research. A published thesis, second investigator credit, a few media articles, anything that demonstrates your ability to write and convince others to read your work. Don't underestimate this important part of being a PhD.
Have an impressive GPA, strong recommendations, and proven research and PhD programs will "work with you" (read: ignore a GMAT score below their average).
We can help you navigate the business school PhD process and improve your GMAT score. Email APPLY ME at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 04 449 7318. We offer private tutoring with American tutors that will boost your score!