Why is a balanced university shortlist important? Learn how to hedge your risk and secure an admit

University Shortlisting

Did you know that despite having high scores on standardised tests such as the GRE and GMAT, and application to your dream school might still be rejected? What do you do in such a scenario? The answer to this question lies in a crucial step in your quest for admission to top universities in the United States, Canada, and other popular study abroad destinations, which is shortlisting.

Why is shortlisting so crucial?

The process to shortlist is a multifaceted one. Setting your own priorities and having a clarity on what you want is the key to shortlisting. The things to take into consideration include the length, width, and depth of the curriculum offered in your areas of interest. Not just this, but some other things to take into account include a slew of other factors such as cost, scholarship availability, placement statistics, ranking, faculty, research, capstone projects, clubs in activities, and so on. This should give you an idea that basically the entire university ecosystem please a critical role in understanding if the university is right for you or not, handles, it becomes important to not just take dry statistics into account but also engage in a holistic assessment.

Shortlisting, thus, directly contributes towards your success in the application process and even your subsequent careers. 

How to shortlist?

Our students usually choose to apply to around 7 universities. This number gives them enough room to pick some top schools and dream universities and leaves ample space to hedge their risks as well. But, we understand that choosing 6-8 universities from a long list of worthy options can be a daunting task. Which is why we have come up with a quick guide on understanding the various facets of shortlisting to essentially hack the process and make the most of the opportunities that you have. 

One of the most overlooked aspect of the shortlisting process is the understanding around balancing the risk of applying to universities abroad. Studying abroad is a big investment. No matter the university you end up in, it is going to be a significant investment of time and money. 

And if you get a rejection from all the universities you apply to, it will lead to an entire year being wasted. Thus, to increase one’s chances of admission, apply to a good mix of Ambitious, Moderate, and Safe universities (explained below). 

  • Ambitious: As the name goes, these universities are the absolute top notch, over  the globe. Universities like Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Stanford, etc. are a part of this category for most people. Universities in the ambitious category are incredibly selective and have a very low acceptance rate. Receiving thousands of applications each year, these universities only admit the best of candidates. 
  • Moderate: What comes after the ambitious universities, are the Moderate universities. As a characteristic, these have a medium acceptance rate and your chances of admission are above average or somewhat realistic for your profile. These universities are usually achievable and have a terrific reputation. They are usually pretty competitive themselves and form the higher end of the safety net when applying to colleges. For a lot of students, these are the #2 choice in their lists. 
  • Safe: Again, like the name suggests, Safe universities are the ones where you have a great chance of acceptance. These universities usually have a fairly high acceptance rate (though we won’t go so far as to say 100%). These universities also have a good ecosystem to foster your growth but exist to hedge your risks when applying to ambitious colleges. 

Having a combination of all three categories of universities in your shortlist is the ideal manner of applying for studies abroad as you are covered on all bases. EdElevate team categorises and shortlists universities for their candidates based on their interest and preferences, combined with our experience. 

Take an example of one of our former students, Kavitha. Kavitha, from the moment she enrolled, was an ambitious candidate (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). Upon discussion, she told us that she wanted to apply to mostly ambitious universities, with 1 or 2 safe universities. The rationale? Safe universities almost always guarantee admission. And by skipping moderate universities she would be able to include more ambitious names (like Harvard and Stanford) in her list. Even though we understood where she was coming from, we shared our opinion that we didn’t concur with her approach. We believe that this approach would have left her either at the absolute top or at the bottom of the table. However, no two fingers are alike, and each student has different goals and expectations from universities. So there are no rights or wrongs here.

EdElevate’s expert guidance

Our expert counsellors at EdElevate will guide you and help you throughout your application process with our unique offering customised admission mentoring based on your interests, with coverage of the best colleges in every discipline. Right from choosing the best study abroad option for you to mentor you, to building a strong profile, we offer a variety of services to assist students in realising their dream of study abroad.

Apart from offering mentorship to students, we provide assistance in crucial admission processes including shortlisting universities based on the student’s unique profile and area of interest, essay ideation and brainstorming, essay review, reference letter and resume reviews, interview preparation sessions, and more.

With all of these advantages, EdElevate is the greatest place for you to join and work toward your dream of studying abroad and establishing a successful profession. Attend a Discovery session at EdElevate today to chart out your road to success.  

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