कार्तिक रघुनाथन (Karthik Raghunathan)

  • Director of Research, MindMeld
  • Alumnus, Microsoft AI & Research (2010 - 2016)
  • Alumnus, Stanford Computer Science (Graduate class of 2010)
  • Alumnus, NIT Calicut Computer Science and Engineering (Class of 2008)

Personal Admissions Counseling - FAQ about Donations

Are you still taking in new applicants for counseling this year?

See here for any status updates regarding the personal admissions counseling program.

How do I make the donation?

Donations in support of Helpage Age India can be made on their website at http://www.helpageindia.org/donate/. They accept credit cards, debit cards, money transfer through internet banking and if you are in India, cheques and DDs as well. I highly encourage donating to them directly, since that helps me to keep things transparent and also allows you to avail the tax benefits for your donation. I merely need a proof of the donation, which can be a screenshot of your donation confirmation page or the confirmation email.

There have been very few cases where people have had problems in donating on their website, especially with international credit cards. In such cases, the interested applicants can transfer the money to me (via PayPal) and I can make the donation on their behalf and send them a receipt of the donation. But this is just a fallback option.

How much do I donate?

There are two counseling tiers with different required minimums. These tiers correspond to how much time I might need to spend for counseling a particular applicant.

Think about which of the above describes you the best (also see the next question) and donate accordingly. Please remember these are just the suggested minimums. You will be supporting a great cause, so anything over and above the minimum is always appreciated.

Which tier do I choose?

That depends on your level of familiarity and confidence with the end to end admissions process.
Tier I students can expect:

Tier II students can expect: If you're unsure, you can start with Tier I and later decide to move to Tier II if that makes more sense.

Why are there two tiers?

For the first five years of the personal admissions counseling programme, there wasn't a concept of two separate donation tiers. I would only mention a suggested minimum donation, and various applicants would donate differently depending on their capability and willingness. Some would exactly donate the suggested amount, others would donate a bit more and a few would really go beyond the call of duty and donate very generously. I would offer the same service to all regardless of the donation amount, since I've always wanted this counseling programme to be seen as a fundraising effort rather than a fee-based service. But over time, I realized that in practice, my approach could be unfair to some applicants even if it was motivated by a good principle.

The amount of time I have to spend in reviewing and revising a grad school application greatly differs from applicant to applicant. For some, the entire counseling process might be over in a week with the exchange of a few mails and a quick skim through their application materials. But for others, it could require me to have several email exchanges with them, going over several iterative drafts of their SOPs or recommendation letters, and the entire process could go on for months. The bandwidth taken by applicants of the latter kind would sometimes also prevent me from being responsive and attentive to applicants of the first kind, even if that communication would've taken lesser time.

The two-tier system therefore ensures two things. Firstly, it makes the donation proportional to amount of work I put into the counseling process. Secondly, it helps me to plan my couseling season better, since I can roughly estimate beforehand the amount of time I will need to spend with each applicant.