Admissions, My Story, Study Abroad

My Journey to National University of Singapore

I know this was one of the most awaited ones. And I’m happy that I could spare some time to speak my heart to all of you.

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My Admission Journey to National University of Singapore (NUS)

It was full of twists and turns and now when I look back I feel astonished as to how I pulled through despite making so many mistakes. I would like to highlight those mistakes so as to make you guys aware of the same..

My dream of National University of Singapore(NUS) started in 2nd year of B.Tech (Biotech) when I first met my chemistry lecturer, Mr. Animesh Verma, one of my all-time mentor and guide. He told me about National University of Singapore and other reputed institutes in India for higher studies. After getting to know about NUS I searched more about its admission requirements and deadlines to secure admission just after my graduation. On that particular day I decided to appear for GATE BT and targeted a rank below 100. From Animesh Verma I got to know about a guy named Sunil Nagpal (Sunil Bhaiya from here on) from our college (LPU: Lovely Professional University) who secured AIR: 44 in GATE BT 2010, who later on became my second mentor and played a pivotal role in achieving whatever I have achieved. My target then was to break his milestone rank 44, which fortunately I could not (Yes!! Fortunately, I was never good enough). But with all his guidance and long problem solving sessions, I managed to secure 95 percentile (GATE-2011) in my first gate attempt. Of course it was a big failure and I was heartbroken. I knew for sure that I will not get a call from most of the IITs and the prospects of National University of Singapore were also in jeopardy. But anyways I applied for NUS that year and started preparing for GATE-2012. I remember the day before the GATE-2012 exam, me and Sunil bhaiya were sitting in Café Coffee Day (CCD) near my place and discussing all my doubts, and between that brain storming session I got an email from NUS informing me of the interview call. I was jubilant and promised myself that I will crack this interview anyhow.

The essay test and interview was scheduled on 18th Feb, 2012. I was asked to provide a mock research proposal for the reference of the interviewers. It was just to judge your English proficiency and inclination towards research.

The Interview Day

When I reached my interview Venue i.e. The Royal Plaza New Delhi, I noticed that most of the applicants looked a bit older to me. When I finally gathered courage to talk to some of them, I found that most of them were from one or the other IITs or working in big MNCs etc (Take my words, I was the only one from a private university!; rest all were from IIT or NIT). My morale dropped to zero and thought I have no chance here against these big guns. And now when I think of it that was the turning point.

I ended up being fearless, because I knew I had zero chances against the experienced and brainy IITians. So, with that attitude I went for my essay test and interview. In the essay test, they asked us to write a 300 words essay on “Technology application in teaching: boon or bane”. Thank to my ICSE board schooling I didn’t face much problem in writing about it.

Then came the first interview of my life. To be honest, I was a little nervous just to think that I will miss this opportunity because of such huge competition.

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The interview started with very warm greetings from the interviewers which I also reciprocated with the same warmth. Then they asked me about my University (LPU) its ranking and status and I frankly answered them that it’s relatively newer university and so it’s improving every session. Then they moved on to my Biotechnology background and what all courses I have studied and how closely it is related to Chemical Engineering (because unfortunately I applied to Chemical engineering department rather than Biological Sciences). I told them about Bioprocess engineering courses and how it is related to chem eng. Then they asked me few questions from my research proposal which was on the “Application of system biology in finding the etiology of Parkinson disease”. They actually suggested me that Chemical engineering can be a little tough for me as I was from non-chem eng background and asked if they can consider me for biological sciences. I, just to show my confidence, replied that my first priority is Chem engg department as I was particularly interested in working under a professor. They looked a little impressed by that (though that display of confidence costed me a little after coming here :p ). Other details I’ve already mentioned in my previous article..The interview ended with a smiling note and I was satisfied with the way I presented myself.

The Result Day and THE 3 MISTAKES!

On 28th May, 2012 I got the provisional admission offer from NUS subject to submission of my last semester marksheet and degree certificate.

The 3 Mistakes of my life that could cost me a lot!

  1. After getting the provisional offer from NUS, I looked for my passport and learnt that my DOB in it is wrong. It took me ages to get it corrected and get the new passport. In that time, I had to request the authorities in NUS to delay my VISA application which could be really dangerous. It was really a touch and go, luckily I got the passport done before the deadline. Lesson learnt: Please check the entire required document beforehand and take all the corrective measures to make the amendments as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the last moment.

  2. Before applying to any department and do a self-assessment as to whether you will be able to handle the coursework and other requirements. In my case, what I did is to apply in Chem eng department because I wanted to work under certain prof and ignored all other requirements like what all coursework I will have to go through (take note that I was warned in my interview that coursework can be nasty for a non-chem eng background student). So. Ultimately I got through the dept. but didn’t get to work for same prof as I wanted and ultimately did really badly in coursework. Lesson learnt: DO all the home-work before taking any decisions. GO through blog like these to get all the information or enquire as and however you could.

  3. After I did my FYP in computer aided drug designing, I was very much inclined towards working for the same and thought that I will get to work for it under that prof which eventually didn’t happen. I was disappointed and could not give my cent percent for other project. Lesson learnt: Widen your interest area as you are only an undergrad and there is lot of time to learn. Don’t stick to a particular field rather go for some interdisciplinary field. Whatever comes your way, try to give it a thought with clear mind, analyze and then take decision. Always listen to other people’s experience.


Sections to Come:

 

1. Life @ NUS

2. My Project

3. Fun in and around Singapore–Hong Kong, Macau..

 

6 Comments

  1. Hello Pranjul sir,

    I wanted to know the job prospects besides teaching in singapore for students like me who are pursuing b.e. biotechnology(approx 80 percent) from uiet, panjab university and are in final year.

    I am interested in biotech/chemical but when i hear about teaching and other negative stuff about biotech students, all my career prospects wane.
    So please give an objective opinion about job prospects besides teaching for an indian biotech student pursuing ms/phd from nus and if placements there are 100 percent.

    Thank you

     
    • Pranjul Mishra

      Hello Kush,

      I have not heard of campus placement sort of thing in Singapore or in USA. Job prospects become as good as your CV and contacts become. When you publish research papers and get recognized by some lab/industry, they can contact you to join but you have to show them your potential. And I would say, getting a teaching job also is not a cakewalk and after all its not that bad. Of course there are industry oriented research lab which hire PhDs but their projects are too specific and if your work is in that domain you will definitely be hired.

      Secondly, getting a post-doc position looks easier and fruitful once you see the nuances of PhD. Post-doc gives you more freedom to work on your ideas which industry will not provide. So, my advice will be to focus on doing good research and explore the possibilities. Opportunities are aplenty just the right set of skills are required.

      Best Wishes,
      Pranjul

       
  2. Hi Pranjul Sir,

    It would be great if you could suggest some other options apart from NUS.

    Thanks

     
  3. Hello, I’m a b.tech biotech final year student. I’m appearing fir gate-15. I want to know when the application for Nus are called and the time duration it takes to complete the process. Also, any scholarship provided? if yes! how to aquire? last one question, will have a Gre score with gate add a benefit?? Thanks in advance!!

     
    • Sunil Nagpal

      Hi Praveena,

      I have recently published the info, as requested by you. You may access it at :
      http://in.biotechstudents.com/nus-phd-application-deadline/
      And yes NUS provides scholarship (S$2000-2500 per month). You just need to apply for the PhD (and you will be considered for scholarship by default). Best amongst the GATE and GRE will be considered (but having two qualification it might help you in interview, to boost your confidence and put a good impression). But frankly, even if you have an eligible GATE score of 99.9 percentile, your performance in interview is what going to influence the chances of your selection the most.

      It doesn’t take much time to apply. (You will need two recommendation letters, valid GATE score and a letter of motivation). Rest is just a normal application form filling and online fee payment.
      Note: Make sure you have a passport (or should apply a the earnest!).

      Best Wishes

      Sunil

       
  4. Hello, pranjul sir…. Can, I get your email-ID?please

     

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