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About ssk2

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  • Gender
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  • Application Season
    2013 Fall
  • Program
    MS in Computer Science

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  1. ssk2

    F-1 interview

    Just to add to the bank of interview experiences. I had a pleasant experience at the embassy in London earlier this week. I was expecting to be in there for 3-5 hours but it only took just over an hour from start to finish. The (British) security guards was a little brusque but the (American) embassy staff themselves were lovely - very friendly and helpful. During my brief interview, I was asked: - Have you ever applied for a visa before? - Have you travelled to the US before? - Have you visited Berkeley? - How did your parents get the funds which they are providing for your study? - How did you get the funds which you are providing for your course? Aside from the mandated documents (I20, SEVIS receipt, DS-160 receipt, interview confirmation and MRV fee receipt), I wasn't asked to show any of my financial documents that I took with me. The interview took just a couple of minutes.
  2. Have you tried speaking to someone on the phone? They tend to get a LOT of email and calling them up (at least in my case) yielded a more direct answer after they actually looked at my 'file'. (I had a similar but less severe delay but they gladly updated me of the status over the phone and after a couple of weeks, I had my I-20.)
  3. This sounds great - and graphics is an area where you need to be a competent engineer, so this will definitely help. Definitely include these in your resume. I'd pick the most relevant courses, like you say, and mention them in your SOP. The key thing for the SOP (which I'd wish I'd spent more time on) - is to make as directed and relevant as possible. Essentially it has to read like a strongly purposeful essay. The question you should keep in mind as you write it, 'why would this candidate make a good student?'. Include everything that gives proof for why you would be the best candidate (if not the most qualified in terms of research experience) and exclude everything that detracts from this point. As newms says, you need to write as if you are making a point directly to those professors. I'd say so, for sure. You will have a slight home country advantage too (better still if your employer is likely to be one admissions tutors have heard of). If the main purpose of your site is to augment your application keep it super clean and simple and have additional sections such as 'About', 'Professional Experience', 'Projects' (+ links to your online presence - LinkedIn, Github etc.). This should be more that sufficient :-). Stick a Google Analytics tracking token in there too from the moment you submit your application. It sounds like you're doing all the right things to put in a competitive application. I'd start writing your essay as soon as possible - and get feedback from professors or people who are familiar with the application process. (Speaking from experience - getting feedback from people who don't quite know what these schools are looking for can be detrimental and you'll get a horrible muddled essay if you try and incorporate everyone's feedback. Obviously, they're good for finding typos and grammatical errors but get a couple of opinions from informed reviewers to check that your essay answers the question.) I've put a whole bunch more advice on my blog (see link in the signature) - specifically, check out the book that is linked - 'Graduate Admissions Essays' by Donald Asher. It has no CS specific examples but it will give you a good flavour of what they look for. Good luck!
  4. Just a heads up - Berkeley doesn't admit very many at all for the MS-only program (at least judging by this year's stats). I think it's possibly as competitive to apply to their MS program as to their PhD program so you're probably better off applying to the latter. Having been out of school is not necessarily a disadvantage - have you got relevant work experience? Or at least in the field of technology? It's beneficial to elucidate in your SoP what exactly you've gained from your time in industry (programming skills, team working skills etc.). Applying for a PhD directly would be quite risky without research experience and/or significant relevant work experience. Another thing you could use to help your application is to take a free graduate level online course (such as those on Udacity, EdX or Coursera) and do well in it. If they're run by one of the universities you are applying to, even better. You've still got time to do one or two of these before application season opens. Overall your application seems pretty reasonable. Be sure to play up the relevant parts of your experience. They probably won't be interested in your year abroad (although it does sound great - so definitely include it on your application resume), definitely detail your contribution to the robotics project, your experiments with OpenGL and your open source contributions. If you have made sufficient commits on Github, put your profile URL on the application and your resume. (Side note: if you have a personal website which you plan on including, make sure to include this as a prominent link and be sure to include a detailed description of the projects you've worked on. Keep it simple and purposeful too so that if someone was to just glance at it, they'd see something cool. I noticed that a couple of the universities I applied to, including UW, actually visited my website but spent almost no time on it.)
  5. I checked directly with a bunch of airlines - reason being that I wanted a direct flight so that I could bring an extra bag and my bike (doing this with a multi-hop flight would be expensive/difficult to upgrade the baggage allowance). I found the same as Andean Pat - that flights were often the same or more expensive when booking through a third party website (at least for direct flights). I also found that it was only slightly more expensive to book a return ticket than a single - so I just booked my return portion for some date in the future, it'll cost £100 to change it, but that's cheaper than buying another single! (Although I guess I'll have to buy a single ticket at some point if I decide to stay...rather than rescheduling flights constantly.)
  6. ssk2

    Help please

    There are also a few good flashcard apps for your smartphone. I used Painless GRE - which really helped.
  7. ssk2

    F-1 interview

    I think that's highly unlikely!
  8. ssk2

    Learning to drive!

    I have a friend who just moved to California from London. He held a full driving license here and has just gone through the procedure that TakeruK describes. His opinion that it was much easier (the theory and driving test itself) in California than London. Here the pass rate is very low - most people I know have taken multiple tests. He passed without any issue the first time in California. I'd suggest taking your lessons in the US - as a new driver, it's very disorienting to switch sides of the road and this will just end up costing you more in lessons. Since you're doing a PhD, the likelihood that you'll want to drive at some point during those 5-6 years is quite high so it makes sense to get a Californian license. Plus the US is less well catered for in terms of public transport, so a car would be very useful (or at least the option of renting one).
  9. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Shameless bump - but we're still looking for a third housemate - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/roo/3750565764.html - the apartment is really close to the Haas and cycleable to most parts of the campus. Send me a message if you're interested or have any questions!
  10. Someone has recommended this to me - http://ultra.me/ - it's a MVNO that runs on top of T-Mobile's network. I'm going to give it a go for a month at least, it seems very reasonable in terms of cost.
  11. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Which department will you be attending for classes? Campanile Court seems quite far from the university - possibly too far to walk regularly. Manville looks like a much better location.
  12. Cheers wreckofthehope, will check them out!
  13. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Check out Craigslist rooms and shares for East Bay and just filter by search term 'august'. You'll get a bunch of summer sublets there but should be a handful of listings for the start of August. I've been checking it for a few weeks now and should hopefully have somewhere sorted now for August.
  14. ssk2

    F1 visa interview

    Where did you both apply from?
  15. I've heard good things about the RI. It's one of the best places in the world for Robotics research and it's highly selective too. Personally - I'd pick that.

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