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Decided to study abroad but are backlogs holding you back? This is quite a common situation and trust us, you aren’t completely doomed. Whether you had a personal reason such as health or family commitments that caused you to miss an exam, or you simply couldn’t measure up to it in performance, backlogs don’t necessarily mean that you are poor in academics. There could be a ton of reasons, and the best way to go about justifying them is to be upfront and honest.

In general, there are three stages that might require a proper explanation as to why your undergraduate academic performance is low; your university statement of purpose, your university admission interview and your student visa interview. So, let’s go about this, one by one and see how you can spin your backlogs to your advantage.

The Statement of Purpose

The first step here is to choose whether you want to talk about your backlogs in your SOP or not. Ask yourself if including an explanation strengthens your application, or weakens it? And if you have nothing good to say about your backlogs, the best course of action would be to omit those facts and focus on other aspects.

However, if you believe that your backlogs have a good reason and including them paints you in a better light, by all means, mention them in your SOP.

Talk about why you have them, and why in those specific topics. Did you miss an exam? Did you not have a teacher for a subject? Did you try your best but the topic just wouldn’t interest you? A story that expresses your determination, perseverance and hard work will hold more value than the certificate that says you didn’t clear a couple of subjects.

The College and Visa Interview

Unlike the SOP, if you’re asked about your backlogs in one of your interviews, you won’t be able to avoid it. So, if you’ve decided to do away with talking about them in the statement, know that you’ll still need a proper explanation to give in the interviews. Now the question is, how do you convince your interviewers that your backlogs don’t define you?

– Honesty is the best policy

If you have backlogs, admit to them. They already have your scorecards, and even if they don’t, all it takes is one email to your university. So, denying them only works against you. Instead, if you can positively talk about your backlogs you might have a chance to turn things around. You can say that you tried your best but couldn’t clear them, and you tried multiple times as well. Show proof of the initiatives you took towards mending them, whether in the form of repeated courses, alternative courses or other activities.

– Show that you are serious about academics

Backlogs signify one thing; that you didn’t perform academically in a particular subject. Unfortunately, this can give off an idea that you aren’t serious about your studies. And your job is to prove them wrong. One way you can do this is by getting exceptional scores in tests like the GMAT, GRE or IELTS. You can also mention other college subjects and how you performed well in those, more about this below.

– Does it relate to your major?

Another reason that you could use is the classic, “I couldn’t find any interest in the subject even though I tried really hard.”

If you’re looking to apply for a computer science major, and have great grades in your programming courses, you’re good to go. Having backlogs in electrical or mechanical subjects doesn’t do you much harm unless you’re looking for a specialization in them with your CS major. So do your research beforehand on the subjects that your chosen university offers and explain to them how your backlogs will not affect your future performance. But what if your backlogs relate to your major?

– Projects and Trainings

What’s done, is done! It’s not the best plan to go back to college and spend more years redoing your subjects. Instead, you could focus on developing practical skills in your field of interest through projects or external training. There usually is a significant break between when you submit your application and when you join the college, so use this time wisely and focus on building your credibility.

– Exceptional Extracurriculars

Universities abroad don’t just look at your grades, they focus on your entire profile. This includes your extracurricular and co-curricular activities as well. Today’s world needs leaders and innovative thinkers, so if your term in the student government or your participation in the debate club has helped you pick up these good talents, be sure to talk about them. Try to show the panel that you are a worthy candidate and that you will add great value to the university.

Backlogs aren’t the end of the world, and universities know this too. That’s why they consider applications instead of straight-up rejecting them. Moreover, there are always ways you can spin them into a positive tone, especially in your SOPs. So, if you need help drafting the best statements or acing your standardized tests, reach out to our counsellors today!

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