UC Irvine – and How I Got Admission There!

This week we bring you Suhas Bhadgaonkar, a software professional, and one of our alumni. He’s here with his experiences in getting admission to UC Irivine.


Name: Sagar Suhas Bhadgaonkar
Degree: BE (Computer Engineering), Univ. of Pune
Work Experience: 2.5+ years in Accenture Technology Solutions, as a Software Engineer
GRE Score: 1400 (Old Scale)/ 322 (New Scale)
Break Up:
Verbal: 640 (Old Scale)/162 (New Scale)
Quant: 760 (Old Scale)/160 (New Scale)
TOEFL: 112/120


My journey to a US university started when an acquaintance came to visit my home in Pune after spending a few years working for Oracle in San Jose. It was mid-May, and some of my other friends from Accenture had got admits from American universities and were planning to get visas and complete other application formalities. There was a ‘buzz’ in the air about going to America. My friend’s visit was like a little piece of sodium dropped into a bowl of water. The thought of the opportunities that lay in wait for me in the US began to bubble up in my mind. When the ‘reaction’ had subsided, higher studies and subsequent professional opportunities in America were the clear focus.

Like a lot of us who are now going to US, I was born and brought up in a middle class family with no immediate relatives in US). So, though the thought of studying further, or doing ‘something’, had been present in my mind for quite a while, I had never planned on going to US for higher education. The examples of my friends started me thinking about pursuing an MS in the USA.

I had not joined MS/MBA classes in the third or fourth year of Engineering, as many do so, I did not have much information about how to begin my preparations. I also needed motivation and the right direction to start my preparations. Joining Dilip Oak’s Academy (DOA) was the best decision I could have taken. The GRE coaching and counseling both really helped me, clearing up a lot of confusion, and helping me concentrate only on what was needed.

1. Coaching:

– Coaching, specifically for Verbal and AW, was the most enjoyable part of classes, thanks to the great teaching faculty. You need someone to guide you on how to go about the Verbal as well as the AW prep for GRE, especially on the much feared RC passages – and that is exactly what they did. The prep material given by DOA is also of very good quality and provides ample practice.

– The tests taken at the DOA computer lab helped me get a feel of the real exam day. (There is a huge difference between tests taken at home and outside. For the hard, and not so easy to score questions, DOA tests are best).

– The DOA online tests are comparatively tough. But the fact that I got lower scores in the DOA tests than in PowerPrep, Kaplan, etc. motivated me to study harder for each subsequent test. This helped me to gradually improve. (Sign up for the FREE TEST here and see what Sagar is talking about.)

2. The Admission Process:

– My SOP counselor at the Academy helped me draft a good SOP, which we refined and polished till it was fully ready for application. The SOP sessions clearly helped me to bring out my strengths. So, though my acads are average, (largely due to the first year of engineering!) my high GRE score and the strong SOP I drafted at Oak’s Academy made up for that.

– Using rankings on websites such as US News and Microsoft Academic Research, and by talking to my friends, I also made a list of around 20 universities that I was interested in.

– In university selection sessions, Dilip Oak Sir then helped me choose 8 out of these 20 universities to apply to. The sessions with Oak Sir were very important in helping me get a clear picture of my chances at various universities. Out of the 8 universities we selected, I got 4 admits.

– The DOA Staff gave me very good guidance throughout the application process. I prepared my application packets for the first 2-3 universities at the DOA center itself.

3. Visa Process:
The sessions for filling the DS160 form, financial document preparation, mock interviews by Oak Sir proved important for the visa process enabling me to get familiar with what to expect and allowing me to face the dreaded visa interviews with confidence.

I took my GRE in June 2011 in the old format and scored 1400. Then I prepared a good SOP with my counselor at DOA. Finally, I took the TOEFL in October 2011, scoring 112/120. UC Irvine was the last university I applied to, and it received the recommendations after the deadline! I was still selected. UC Irvine is my best admit and my destination.

What I realized after everything was over is that taking the exams is only the first and most simple step in applying for admission to a US university. It is the most simple because the outcome is totally in our hands (except, of course, for things like inconvenient rains which I did experience in Mumbai and which caused me a little irritation during the test!). However, everything after that – SOP, applications, admits, rejects, and most importantly, the VISA! – is subjective and complex and each has a number of aspects to be considered. So, the application’s process is very difficult to get through with good results unless you have a lot of help.

The last two years have been a long hard slog but, I am happy to have had the enthusiastic and invaluable support of my family and Dilip Oak’s Academy throughout this time. I am glad that after waiting for so long, I am going to be a part of the university I dreamt of going to. As I reminisce about it, with the visa stamped on my passport for my dream admit in UC Irvine, I think joining DOA was a very crucial decision.

Thank you Aai, Baba and Dilip Oaks Academy!

See also:

Final Destination: Wisconsin-Madison – How I Got in for a PhD in Electrical Engineering at a Top American University