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I have just entered my final year of Undergraduate degree in Computer Science and engineering from a rather unknown/not-popular college in India and I want to get admittance in a PhD program in Computer Science. I'm thinking of applying for colleges in the USA and I'm worried that graduating from an unknown college will affect how universities will perceive my application and I regret my decision of joining this college in the first place. I still have one year before I apply. I want to know what I need to do to maximize my chances of admission. And any general suggestions you'd give for a fourth year student who is looking to get into research programs.

  • Have previous students from your institution gone to PhD programs in the US? Talk to their advisors (or the students themselves). – Jon Custer Jul 12 '18 at 17:26
  • Most of the students who have gone to US have gone to do their Masters (MS programs) and not PhD. There were a few students who have persued PhD but all of them tend to do it India. So I don't have many people in my contacts to ask about what to do – Madhurish Katta Jul 13 '18 at 18:38
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Things may not be as bad as you fear. I was in a similar situation long ago. One advantage you have is that, at a small place, you probably have good access to your professors and they know your work pretty well.

First, check to see what connections your own professors have to other schools. These could be places that they went to school, or personal contacts at conferences or co-authors of papers. Enlist the help of your profs in promoting your candidacy.

Second, find out if other students from your current place have gone to universities you would find interesting. Find out how they did. If someone before you has set a good example at another university it can work in your favor.

Failing that, write application materials stressing heavily what you can do, mostly by stressing what you have done. Ask your professors to analyze these to see how your projects and performance will be perceived.

And since you have a bit of time, do what you can to do interesting things that others might find impressive.

In general, though, the reputation of your current institution is only one thing among many that will be used in the selection process. I doubt that very many places sort candidates first by the prestige of the applicants undergraduate university.

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