Brightlink’s Student Admitted to PhD UConn 100% Funding
Brightlink Prep’s student, Hamza Omer, recently got admitted to the full-time PhD program at University of Connecticut with 100% funding. What is remarkable about his case is the fact that he just graduate from UET Lahore and had no research experience or publications, but still some how managed to get into a good PhD program directly and with full funding. I asked him to share his experience with us and following is what he has to say about this feat. You can also read about other admitted student’s here.
I was only able to prepare normally for the GRE exam since I was very busy with my final semester and project. I scored a mere 306 (142 V, 164 Q, 4 AWA). I was very much disappointed with my Verbal score so I worked a little harder for the TOEFL and scored 105 out of 120 on the IBT. I had a feeling that this TOEFL score can cover up my low Verbal score in GRE and therefore decided to apply to 8 good universities. I broke down my universities into 3 parts; 2 programs from the top 25, another 3 from the 25-50 ranked programs and 3 from 50-75 ranked universities.
I kept four important parts of the application in mind which Sir Talha had once told me during a conversation; GPA, GRE, reference letters and personal statement. I worked really hard on my essays for two months – and trust me I did. After that, I worked on my resume. Through my resume I showed that although my GPA was low but there are reasons for that. I discussed my active participation in sports, athletics and also discussed my three internships that I had been part of during the summers.
Now I was left with only the reference letters because I couldn’t change my GPA and my GRE scores. I chose two professors and one associate professor to write me LORs. The problem here in Pakistan is that our professors don’t know how to write a recommendation. They either praise the child too much or they just mention his/her bad habits. The most important thing is that in the recommendations there are some critical points and some important points. The professor should mark the critical points in the excellent box and important ones in the boxes from good to very good. That’s really important.
After giving my TOEFL and selecting some universities, I shortlisted some professors from those selected universities. I studied their profile and their publications of my interest. Then I sent an email to them briefly describing my SOP and the interest I have in their research and publications. Lastly I mentioned of my ideas regarding those publications. I attached my CV with it and my SOP as well.
From the selected professors only 5 replied to me. That was a good sign for me. One professor from West Virginia University, one from University of Connecticut, two from Nevada state university and one from University of Kentucky. They all asked me for an interview on Skype but unfortunately, no one but two responded when I told them about my availability. One from UConn and another one from WVU responded. I had a Skype interview with the one from WVU and it went great but he told me because of low GPA they are hesitant to accept me. With the UConn professor, the Skype interview also went great and I could see that everything was going in the right place and I was eventually selected.
He also mentioned the reasons for selecting me. My extraordinary performance in every field, whether academic or extra curricular, was a strong factor in my selection. Next he also mentioned about my strong SOP and the fact that my experience in the field of computer engineering because of my internships was also a major attraction. In short the idea I got was that extra curricular activities reveal a lot about you — in ways that grades and test scores can’t. Moreover academics and grades though matter a lot but can be covered up by strong practical experience that is relevant to your area of interest.