Admission Diaries – How to target Top Universities with an Average Profile?


This is a question that often plagues ambitious students who may have fallen just a tad bit short of developing their dream profile. Be it GRE scores or backlogs, there is an inadequacy in their profiles that make them anxious and nervous about seeking top admits.

However, at the risk of sounding very cliched, every profile has a unique differentiating factor that must be highlighted appropriately. It is important to define your target on the basis of your USP!

To understand the psyche of admission officers better, let’s look at a student who had an average profile and still managed to clinch an admit from a top-ranked university.

The student and university profiles are as under:

Profile Factor Student’s Profile
GRE Score
  • 304 (Q: 157; V: 143)
TOEFL Score:
  • 91 (R:22; W:23; L:27; S:19)
  •  1
  • B.Tech in Electronics & Communication Engineering
  • 6.95
Topper’s GPA:
  • 9.4
UG University
  • Amrita School of Engineering, Bangalore
  • Internship at Vizag Steel Plant
  • Project at HAL
  • Comparison & Analysis of different image processing techniques using fast fourier transforms – IEEE paper presented on the same topic
Extra-curricular Activities
  • Certified Athlete & Crossfitter
  • Leader at Center for U & I (NGO) with 1 year volunteering experience
  • Was working with CRY at the time of application
Fields of Interest
  • Digital Electronics
  • Analytics

Talking about the University now,

Profile Factor University’s Profile
  • University fo Texas, Dallas
Program Applied
  • Master of Science in Information Technology & Management
Program Ranking
  •  # 16
Average GRE Scores Accepted
  • 313 (Q: 157, V: 156)
Average TOEFL Scores Accepted
  • 100
Average UG GPA Accepted
  • 3.7 out of 4
Overall Acceptance Rate
  • 21.9%

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Ranked number 37 among the best business schools in the US, University of Texas, Dallas places high emphasis on academics. The minimum GPA requirements are placed at or above 3.6 out of 4.

With 11 research centers on campus, UTD also demands students to have relevant practical experience in the field of their interest in pursuing their Master’s. In fact, most applicants tend to have reasonable work experience too!

UTD is also placed at the heart of the business hub in USA and is in close proximity to big companies like ExxonMobil, Texas Instruments and Southwest Airlines.

Studying at such a prestigious university is a dream come true for many MS-ITM aspirants.

However, the important thing to note is that the Naveen Jindal School of Management is very welcoming towards the Indian community and profiles are considered quite leniently if there are genuine reasons stated.

The Problem:

The fundamental obstacle in achieving a top admit for this profile is the fact that on the first glance, the student doesn’t seem to have a profile that boasts of anything particular.

The challenges for the student can be narrowed down as:

  1. Average Profile including a GRE score and GPA lesser than the accepted averages at UTD.
  2. TOEFL score lesser than the minimum accepted scores.
  3. No work/research experience relevant to the field of interest.

The Solution:

The best way to maximize admit chances would be to focus on your SOP. It is the closest thing to a personal interview and it should convey why you are the right fit for the university clearly and convincingly.

Apart from that, a significant first step to improving your admit chances would be to shortlist an equal number of safe, achievable and ambitious universities. It is also paramount to apply early or at least apply at the opportune time.

Now, if you are looking to also target top universities, then you must take the effort to understand university expectations and modify your profile accordingly.

For example, you must be aware of the profiles of the applicants in general, recent admission trends and important game-changers such as when to apply, what to include in an SOP etc.

How did AdmitEDGE help?

Our Admission SFA says,

After the first orientation call, I realized that the student was very clear about where he wanted to go, but did not have any relevant background for it.

He was also not in a position to improve his profile, in the sense that he could not retake GRE or pursue any internships because he was targeting the upcoming Fall admission season. There was no time.

So, the best thing to do was to was to focus on shortlisting the right universities and crafting a persuasive SOP.

After an extensive interview with the student, we narrowed down some unique factors that we could highlight.

  1. Long terms plans for starting up his own company
  2. Extensive volunteer work with leadership experience
  3. Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist by the International Fitness & Aerobic Academy.

So, my team and I sat down to analyze his profile and found that he has very strong volunteer work, which is deeply valued in the US. Community service is an integral, sometimes even mandatory part of the civic duties of a US citizen. Besides, he led an entire center for an NGO and was also actively involved with CRY – an internationally renowned organization. So, we made sure that the leadership experience he gained received the limelight in his profile. This point takes precedence because for a course like MIS that aims to train people into managerial roles, having significant leadership experience becomes a differentiating factor.

An another important aspect of the profile that deserved attention was the long-term ambition of startup his own organization. In order to make effective decisions, you must first understand the principles of finance, project management, accounting among others. This becomes paramount when you want to head an entire company, let alone a team.

We emphasized the fact that pursuing this course would help bridge a significant gap and ensure that the student would receive the right tools to make a difference later.

As we mentioned earlier, your SOP must answer four main questions:

  1. Why are you choosing this course?
  2. Why are you choosing this university?
  3. Why should the university choose you?
  4. How will this course at this university help you achieve your long-term goal?

Need help framing your own SOP? Get a step-by-step guide on how you can write a winning SOP! Download your FREE SOP eBook now!

Excerpts from his SOP:

My expectations from this course:


Why am I choosing UTD?


Highlighting Volunteer experience:


Technical background:


How will this course help my long-term goal?


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2 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    By when should I complete my documentation for UTD?

    • Shruti Ganesh says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for writing to us. The Fall ’17 intake deadlines go on until May 1st, however, completing your applications early ensures that you apply for the priority deadline. You must submit your completed application within January 15th to be considered as a priority candidate. To help you understand a little bit more about priority deadlines, it is specific date within which applications received have a higher chance of getting admits as well as scholarships. Since the competition is lesser and the pressure to fill the seats is lower, all aspects of your profile are thoroughly considered. So, applying early with a good SOP will help increase your admit chances!

      You can get the best SOP for your profile by filling in your details here:

      Looking forward to hearing from you!

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