We often hear our peers discussing about which intake they will choose when it comes to applying for universities. What are these intakes? Let us demystify what they are.
Intakes (also known as semesters), are an agreed upon time period based on seasonal grounds, where universities accept, process and streamline applications for the various programs and courses they offer. Usually, there are 3 time periods in an academic year where universities enroll students for their programs. They are:
- Fall/September Intake
- Winter/January Intake
- Spring/Summer/May Intake
As we go further, we will begin to understand which intake is the most preferred, which is the most diverse in terms of opportunities, and how to navigate through the decision of choosing a particular intake. Let’s get started.
A slight note for all intakes: Universities have diverse deadlines and application processes, so you will need to thoroughly check for your program’s deadlines in particular, and apply according to the stipulated instructions.
The Fall intake usually starts from September, and is the most popular, convenient and diverse intakes to opt for. This intake is also known as the primary intake when it comes to programs offered by universities to international students. Compared to the other two, the primary intake holds within the biggest number of universities offering the greatest number of seats for all kinds of courses.
Students also receive an opportunity to acclimatize themselves to the climate, the nature of city they are in, and the academic program at the university. The candidates are put 4-5months ahead of the students from the Winter Intake, which naturally means the competition is fierce. Most universities across also begin their flagship programs in this intake, and offer tons of scholarships, on-campus jobs, and other opportunities.
Time Period for Deadlines: December to March
Winter/January Intake :
The Winter Intake usually starts from January. It is a second chance for many who missed out on the Fall Intake for various reasons. Many universities offer their major programs in this intake, and it is considered the secondary intake.
On the other hand, students in this intake are usually forced to adapt at alarming levels. There is less legroom for exploration when compared to the Fall Intake, but the opportunities, scholarships and programs remain more or less the same. Competition is still high, but not as high as the primary intake. While this may seem like a good thing, do remember that many students have already been admitted into your desired program as part of the Fall intake, and you cannot let your guard down.
A plus is that you get more time to build your profile in accordance with the needs of the university, be it standardized test scores or application processes.
Time Period for Deadlines: September to November
The last intake for the academic year is the Spring/Summer Intake. This intake is offered by very few universities, and has the least diversity or number when it comes to courses offered. The competition is very less, and most flagship programs aren’t offered as part of this intake.
Most students prefer to not opt for this intake as they do not want to miss out on their Spring Break.
Time Period for Deadlines: Usually around February.
How should we go about choosing our Intakes?
It is apparent from the paragraphs above that the primary and secondary intakes, i.e., the Fall and Winter Intakes respectively, are the most preferred intakes, offering tons of excellent courses and opportunities.
Having said that, your final decision may vary widely, depending on a variety of factors:
- Is your dream course available at your dream university? What intake is it a part of?
- How great are your academic records and standardized test scores? The competition can be fierce.
- What are the job opportunities and placements seasons like? When do they fall for your program?
- Are your applications ready? Do you have your scorecards on hand?
- Do you meet the criteria for the university’s program? For example, if you have 1 year and 7 months of work experience by June, and have your GRE/GMAT scores ready to go but your program requires 2 year of work experience, what should you do? You will need to complete the required months of work experience and then take a call as to whether to apply for the Winter Intake or next year’s Fall intake.
- Climate preferences – Although you will have to brave the climate sometime, you can choose your adaptation period. This is also why students opt for the Fall intake, where they have some more time to wait for the cold to set in.
Steps and Plans
No matter which intake you choose, there will be a standard set of steps that you must follow, in order to get that dream-admit from your preferred university. These steps are common regardless of the intake in question, and are vital for each one.
1 – Select your specializations and decide upon your convictions and reasons for studying abroad.
2 – Assess your profile, build up skills and list down professional achievements.
3 – Prepare for the required standardized tests such as the GRE, GMAT, IELTS, and TOEFL. This will be one of the most important steps in question, and can fetch you that top admit for your program.
4 – Shortlist 10 universities from 3 countries you want to study in, and categorise them from ‘safe’ to ‘reaching for the stars’. Have a few practical ones listed as well.
5 – Start applying and make sure you have all the necessary documents ranging from SOPs, LORs and Test Scores to Academic Transcripts and your VISA.
6 – Arrange for finances and funds.
7 – Pack? Dream on and aim high. All the best!
In case you have any doubts as to the deadlines and intakes of your preferred program, download the university brochure, and contact the university. They will gladly provide you with any information that can help you (do thoroughly check out the website first though). Intakes tend to vary between countries, so kindly keep that in mind and do your own research! : )
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Cheers and Best Wishes – Written by Saahil R Bhatt.