College applications can become long and complicated and require a lot of documentation. In Pakistan, the lack of institutionalized guidance is an added disadvantage for students.
Two PhD students, studying abroad, Nabeel Jafri and Zain R Mian are making the college application process easier with the launch of an online portal.
Available freely, the portal serves as a useful source of information for prospective students. It focuses on answering questions about selecting your schools, contacting potential supervisors, the statement of purpose, the writing sample and funding.
Students can not only access guidance on specific parts of the application but also view successful samples from previous years.
“Pakistani students are not trained through the same North American system,” said Mian, the brains behind the initiative. “Therefore, they are not aware of some of the norms and expectations of the materials and processes.”
The idea behind the programme is to prepare students whose education has been outside North America and Britain. Universities assume you are familiar with the standards and formats of different parts of the application and, too often, a lack of awareness of these norms is misunderstood as a lack of preparation.
The portal was launched in April, in collaboration with Gurmani Center of Literature and Languages in LUMS.
In August, a one-day workshop was held at LUMS to help students apply to humanities graduate schools in the USA and Canada. The panelists pointed the various mistakes, pitfalls, and acts of negligence which lead to rejections from graduate schools.
They elaborated the importance of emailing professors in advance, soliciting good recommendations and getting good GRE scores. Over 35 students attended the workshop.
The website, developed in July, has received over 2,500 hits so far.
When asked if he has plans to start any kind of for-profit enterprise, Mian said that it is not something they intend to do.
“Nabeel and I, as well as the Gurmani Center, which has been our key collaborator in the initiative thus far, believe in the value of public services and good,” he said.
He went on to say that these things are most helpful when they are freely available and publicly accessible. We do hope, however, to continue to improve the website and the information we can deliver at our talks and workshop sessions.
Mian is a PhD student in Comparative Literature and Theory at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his MA and BA (with First Class Honours) in English at McGill University in Montreal. Jafri is a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of Toronto.