How Chinese teachers are dealing with coronavirus and helping keep its student’s futures alive

400+ people have died because of the coronavirus in Mainland China. To curb the spread and contagion, the government had to shut down the schools. Whole semester are getting delayed and those students who were preparing for college entrance examinations are left in fray and frenzy.

But like always, China has a way out of their biggest viral problem and unsurprisingly, it involves technology. China’s Ministry of Education issued a statement last week to push schools to use internet platforms as an alternative way of teaching students amid the suspension of the new semester.

Schools are now teaching its teachers to live-stream their classes. Alibaba Group’s DingTalk is one such tool that allows them to keep teaching the children who are no longer permitted to attend the schools. Many older teachers are now having a tough time learning the new generation tools as they strive to keep teaching the traditional subjects to the younger generation.

As per South China Morning Post,

Suddenly, the spotlight is on China’s online education market, which grew 25.7% year on year in 2018 to 251.7 billion yuan (US$35.9 billion), according to iResearch Consulting Group. The previous forecast of annual growth of between 16% to 24% in the subsequent three to five years may now need to be revised upwards.

Companies are also stepping up to deal with the crisis.

TAL Education announced free live-streaming courses for all grades to “minimise the influence on study due to the outbreak” while VIPKID, which specialises in teaching English online, said on Weibo it would offer 1.5 million free online courses to children aged from four to 12.

As of Sunday, more than 220 education bureaus in 20 Chinese provinces had joined the free-of-charge DingTalk homeschool programme, covering over 20,000 primary and secondary schools and 12 million students, according to state media Xinhua.

Meanwhile, many Chinese students who are studying abroad may be safe medically but are worrying for their families back home. Recently, a Chinese girl from Wuhan (which is where the coronavirus started) who is now living in HongKong took to Twitter to appeal to the world to be kinder to the people from Wuhan who have been facing wrath from the media worldwide.

Tensions may be fraught between the United States and China, but there are still 370,000 Chinese students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. My own alma mater, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign houses nearly 6000 of them. They are filled with anxiety as every day brings them news of more deaths of their dear ones or new travel bans.

When such contagion arise at this scale, we suddenly realize how powerless we are. And I believe its only technology and entrepreneurship that can help survive these challenges. No, I am forgetting the important thing – the indefatigable human spirit.

China is not surrendering. Its students & teachers are fighting back one video at a time.

Click to read the referred article on SCMP here.

Sample SOP for Engineers

A good SOP is well structured, well written but most importantly unique to you. Download a sample SOP and learn how to make your SOP stand out in a crowd

I am not interested in what they did or how. I am keen to know why,” said a senior Admission Director in one of our campus visits in NYU.

SOP is where you tell that guy – why you did what you did and how it makes you the unique you.

Why do we need a SOP

GRE score can show whether you have the aptitude to understand the coursework or not. Your GPA and undergrad transcripts can show whether you have the necessary academic credentials for this program or not. Toefl shows if you will be able to communicate and hence, adjust well in an english speaking community or not.

But alas, you cannot capture the awesomeness of a human being in 3 scores. If that was the case, only the highest qualified will get admits to the Ivy Leagues. But what about that girl from small town in Africa who frickin’ fought against the societal bias and her closed minded aunts to dream of studying in USA! Or how about that IT guy from a tier 3 school in Indonesia who has mediocre grades but wants to be a data scientist!

Good schools want these super motivated candidates instead of uni-dimensional 10 pointers. And this is how, we came to the concept of SOP – its a Statement of Purpose. They want to know why you want to study this particular program in this particular school. It’s a story that tells them how you have come to this point in your life – what incidences have shaped your thinking, how you think, what will you do with your education and will you put it to a good use. And, what remains unsaid is – will you be a successful and good alum for the school?

Now that we have an understanding of what SOP is, let’s look at an example.

Sample SOP for CS

This is the real SOP of a candidate of ours who got into CMU MSIT, ASU MCS, NEU CS and TU Munich CS programs.

You can download the full PDF below.

Structure of a good SOP

There are a lot of samples available on Internet but what you will struggle with is finding out the right style for yourself. Of course, since these samples are available freely to everyone, you cannot copy them either.

So, let’s understand how to structure your SOP.

After 6 years of being in business and working with 500+ candidates, we have developed a deep understanding of what works. The problem is there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. But, to the extent that we can generalise, this is what we recommend.

Introduction

The opening paragraph should give a solid summary of your profile to the admission committee. It should answer why you are applying to this program, what makes you qualified for it and what is impressive about you.

Academic Background

Start with a brief summary of your college life. Try to cover your relevant academic details here such as grades in important subjects, accomplishments (scholarship, hackathon prizes, TAship etc). Start talking about how your interests started evolving in college. Follow up with 1-2 important academic project paragraphs.

Professional/Research Background

This is where you write about your internships, fulltime work experience and/or research experience. Talk about most relevant projects and what you learned from them.

Extracurriculars

Here, you can showcase your leadership and teamwork skills apart from anything meaningful you have done outside studies and work. People can talk about their serious hobbies, sports achievements, volunteering activities, experiences of leading a team in clubs etc.

Caveat – avoid cliches. If you were just a member of the IEEE club or volunteered for a simple event, that does not really count.

Why MS

As we discussed above, the admission committee wants to see how does MS fit in with your plan. So, this section has to convince them that you know what you want to get out of your MS. Talk about your career goals and what will you do after MS.

This is a good time to read our other post which shows good example statements you can use in SOP 

How to make your SOP unique?

As you can see, everybody can follow this structure but what is really hard is to personalize a SOP so that it stands out from the competition. It needs expert storytelling and multiple iterations to evolve a rough draft into a winning SOP. It has taken us years to perfect this process in our consulting.

Here are three pointers you need to keep in mind to make your SOP awesome-

  1. It should be genuine – Admission committee develops an eye for the fakers. If you keep telling how great you are and how you developed passion for microprocessors since childhood, no one is going to buy that. Don’t try to exaggerate unnecessarily. Keep it real.
  2. Address your salient strengths and weaknesses – Winning hackathons? Had low GPA because you went to participate in Formula SAE? Had to return to your hometown to take care of an ailing mother which caused a gap in your work? Only you can tell your story and you should.
  3. Your goals should make sense with your background – Everyone is applying for data Science these days even if they have never worked with ML or have any fundamental knowledge of statistics. If this is the case, you should ask yourself why are you applying to this program. If you cannot justify it yourself, how is the admission committee going to ever be convinced with it?

Don’t Use Templates

Please refrain from using templates given by counselors or websites. The whole point is to make your application stand out and by using a template (especially the ones where you just change your specific information), you are looking similar to thousand other applicants. In fact, try to write the first SOP yourself without seeing any sample SOPs. After writing the first draft, check out some good SOPs and tweak accordingly.

Download the Sample SOP in a PDF 


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How to get your research papers published?

Significance of research papers publications

For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in terms of the total number of science research papers publications, according to statistics compiled by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

As an aspiring grad student or researcher, one of the best things you can do to enhance your application chances is publish a good quality research paper. But many applicants do not know how exactly to go about it.

Tips for becoming a published researcher

So, we invited Utkarsh Sinha who is a Petroleum Engineer, graduating from University of Houston and a published researcher to share some tips about the same. He is currently working with Hicor Technologies and is a JPSE & ATCE Published Author. Utkarsh has also been a summer research fellow at IIT Delhi!

He answers the following in this short video-

  1. How to approach Professors to work on a research project
  2. How to write a good research paper

Go through it and start cranking on your own research!

How to plan the timeline of your Fall applications?

MS in USA application process can be overwhelming and cumbersome. So, here we have tried to simplify it for you so that you can keep a tab on what’s happening.

GRE/TOEFL

Take by end of Aug so that you have enough time to retake if necessary
Retake GRE if required by end of Sep (need 21 days between reattempts)

Shortlist Schools

by end of Sep – mid Oct. Here’s full post on how to shortlist schools.

Email Professors

Drop emails to relevant Professors you are interested to work with (especially for people interested in research) by mid of Oct.

Apply for WES

If any of your shortlisted schools require a WES evaluation, apply for it by the end of Oct since it can take a month or more to get their results.

Check for scholarships

There are some third party scholarships available for MS applicants. Search these by end of Oct (so that you can apply by their stated deadlines)

Order transcripts

from your undergraduate college by end of Oct

Finalize SOP, essays and LORs

by mid Nov

Fill the application online and send application packets where required

by end of Nov – mid Dec

Follow up on the status of your applications

and if the required material has been received by the schools in Jan. Resend if anything is amiss

Receive results

by end of Mar-Apr

Submit financial docs for I-20

by end of Apr

Finalize your school and apply for education loan

by May

Appear for visa interview

by end of June

Arrive on the campus

by Aug (2 weeks earlier if you need to look for funding on campus)


That’s it – it is not as cumbersome if you know what to expect. Save this infographic for a quick reminder.

Timeline for MS applications (fall)

 

For personalised assistance for your applications, check our counseling packages.