‘My two bits’ – From the vantage point of an expert
Why should Indian students consider going abroad for an undergraduate education? What factors MAKE students choose this option?
I think the main factor is that there are far too many bright students for the number of strong schools available in India. But better reasons are that an undergraduate education abroad will give a student not only depth in an area of focus but also breadth in a wide variety of areas. It is predicted that this generation will actually switch careers at least once in their lives and undergraduate studies abroad are tackling this by making sure that a student has a broad foundation as well as specific skills.
The other big difference is that, by and large, the undergraduate experience abroad is a very residential experience and students are surrounded by the academic atmosphere, as opposed to it just being a place that they go to for classes for several hours during the day. Research, professional internships, clubs and organisations make up many of the other areas that a student will grow into. In my experience, this is largely where students build character, network with others, and often find their true calling.
What are some of the challenges that students face during the admissions process? What are some of the things they should keep in mind?
Be yourself. The applications, to the US in particular, tend to have several essays. In my experience, students approach this by trying to figure out what the admissions person wants to hear. These can tend to come off sounding like Miss World speeches, and do not help the admissions person learn more about you. Or worse, students have someone else write the essay! I don’t care if Salman Rushdie is your uncle – that is a bad idea!
The other problem that students face is time management. The applications are typically due quite early (December of the grade 12 year), and do require quite a bit of time. Students should start their essays well before this. While it is important to write your own essays, it is critical to have others help you make sure that they are well written.