A Guide to Expanding Your Choice of Undergrad Colleges in the US
Our last issue gave you a bird’s eye view on studying abroad after high school. You may now have a general idea of what the ‘international experience’ is like, but there is more to it than what we’ve already covered. Once your child has decided that he is ready to apply to colleges outside India, he has made one big decision, but this is by no means the last one he’ll make in this process. “What Should I study? In which country (or maybe even which region in that country) should I go to college? Single sex or co-ed? Should I choose a college based on my area of interest or for its overall reputation?”
That there is a need for him to make such choices illustrates the number of options there are. The US, with more than three thousand colleges and universities that college aspirant can consider, will be the focus of this article. This is fitting because it is the one country that attracts more international students than any other. Also, Indian students comprise a large proportion of the international students (15%); the second largest group, in fact, after China.
The US does not mandate a national curriculum for post-secondary education. This means that there is a wide range of institutional types and educational philosophies, resulting in a gamut of choices. With a little basic research you will find that tertiary education in the US is much more than just the Ivies, Stanford, MIT and UC Berkley. With so many options available, it is arguably in your child’s best interests to consider the relatively obscure names as well; even if he finally chooses not to apply to these, you can rest assured that he has made an informed and considered decision. In fact, as you will read further in this article, a surprising number of lesserknown institutions in India are highly regarded in academic and professional circles, and might even be household names in the US.
“I think students need to expand beyond their current awareness and find schools that truly fit them. Remember, one of the main reasons students from India should consider going abroad is because there are many more options/colleges. If everyone ends up applying to the same ‘Big Name’ schools, they are not taking advantage of this,” says Prab Singh, a member of ParentEdge’s expert panel. This is especially interesting considering that Prab helps send students to both ‘Big Name’ universities like Yale as well as little-known institutions like the Sarah Lawrence College.