Studying abroad is not for everyone. It is for those who are adventurous, who have an open-mind and who are willing to try new things. You may not like everything you try, but you must explore. You must leave your assumptions and biases behind. You must be curious. You must be willing to observe and learn. And you must know that many faculty, staff, and students in the U.S genuinely want you to succeed!
Many international students miss out on the benefits of studying in the U.S because they are eager to stay “close to their own.” In other words, they will hang out only with students from their own country, speak in their home language, if possible, eat at local restaurants that serve their food, and watch movies in their language, to name a few. I highly encourage you not to build a “mini” version of your home country on a U.S. campus. Instead, teach others about your culture and be willing to learn from others.
The purpose of study abroad is to expand one’s mind!
Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the CEO of PlanetGPA, an international student recruitment company.
The cost of a U.S. Bachelors ranges from $10k a year at community colleges to $55k a year at expensive institutions. As the cost of college sky rockets, students and parents are looking more closely at value versus investment. Here are three ideas that both domestic and international students can do to reduce the cost of earning a U.S Bachelor’s degree:
1. Many U.S. colleges and universities offer online courses that you can take from home in your first or second semester. If you can take a few courses without being on campus in your first year, go for it. For international students, this means staying at home with your parents while taking U.S classes. It is a great idea and can save you significant dollars. You save on boarding and lodging while earning a U.S degree. Can’t beat that!
2. Many international students don’t know about community colleges or they have a bad impression about community colleges. Even after you enroll in a 4-year university, you can still take some courses at a community college and have them transferred. This will also save you some money.
3. Some universities have campuses around the world that offer the same degree as they do in the U.S. See if a campus is less expensive and take a few courses at that campus. This has multiple benefits. In your resume you can say that you have lived and experienced different cultures and countries. This is invaluable. Also, you earn the same degree for a lower cost. And you may be able to select a country that is closer to your home country, making travel back and forth less expensive.
Is a PhD worth it? Well, simple answers are no longer popular and therefore a more detailed response is due. The detailed answer is: It depends! It depends on your attitude and aptitude to long hours of hard work, curiosity, frustration, and love for one’s discipline. A PhD in the US is definitely worth it is what most people who have earned a PhD in the US will tell you. Faculty (most) are passionate about their discipline and are great mentors. Lab facilities in the U.S. are usually top notch and research is often cutting-edge. US faculty are active in their disciplines and their reputation depends on the careers their PhD students pursue. So, all in all it is a great investment. But if you want to earn a PhD just to earn “more money” it may not be a good idea. The number one question to ask is: Do I love my major or discipline enough to dedicate my lifetime to it? If your answer is yes, you have crossed the first barrier. Here is a great website from Purdue (www.purdue.edu) that answers most questions students considering a PhD have: http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/dec/essay.phd.html
Image by shawncalhoun via Flickr
International students who want to study in the US – note, not all US universities are the same. Simply because you have "heard" about a university doesn't mean it is good. Simply because your neighbor or friend attended that university doesnt make it good. At the very least, you should check to see if the university you are considering is accredited. See link: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
Why does accreditation matter? Think about it like a car or a house. You want someone to inspect the car or house and tell you that it meets basic standards of quality. That's exactly what accreditation means for universities! There are other considerations as well – but start with asking if your university is accredited.
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How to Select Good Universities:
One question on the mind of every international student is, “what are some good universities for my major?’ Selecting universities that are right for YOU is the most important decision you will be making when it comes to studying abroad. A friend or relative may not be the best advisor, even if they mean well.
Take into account the following factors:
- What kind of a student am I? What is my academic profile and performance? How are my grades/marks? Am I a top student, a good student, or an average student? Admission to good universities depends on your academic profile and performance. Harvard or MIT or Princeton does not admit everyone. The good news is there are “good” universities for you, depending on your profile.
- What is a good university for what I want to study? Every university is “famous” or renowned for some programs, not all programs. For example, a university that is famous for International Relations may not have a great engineering program, even though the university is ranked or has brand recognition. So it is important for you to make sure that the university is good for what you want to study.
- What are the faculty like at this university? Are they researchers or teachers? For example, if research is important to you, then attending a school where research is not important will not serve your interests. On the other hand, if job preparation is what is most important to you, then going to a research school may not be the right fit.
- Finances: Make sure that the tuition at the universities of your choice is affordable. It is not a good strategy to think, “somehow I will manage!’
- What kind of an environment do you like? Although studying abroad is glamorous, it can get lonely. So if you like a city environment of if you are from a large city, you may not like a rural setting for a university. So university location is important when you make a decision.
- Scholarships and financial aid are tied to your test scores and grades. You want to go to a university where your profile fits with what the university is looking for.
- What is the student mix? Some students prefer to have a lot of students from their home country studying at the institution, while others want just the opposite. Look at the student mix before you make your decision.
- Do your homework: Everything you want to know about a university is available on the website of that university. You must take the time to read and digest as much as you can about the university.
If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the CEO of PlanetGPA.com (www.planetgpa.com)
The clock is ticking! If you plan to attend a US university in August 2011,from now on every day counts. Here are a few simple things to do:
1. Practice GRE; practice GMAT; practice TOEFL; or practice IELTS – regardless of what test you plan to take, practice is key.
2. Short-list your universities carefully. Research each university thoroughly. This is the most important decision you will make with regard to your education. Don't blindly follow someones advice. Do your homework.
3. Write a good essay. Be prepared for at least 7 to 8 iterations. US universities give great deal of importance to good essays!
Dr.Uma G. Gupta is CEO of PlanetGPA, a US firm that matches students with US universities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Five tips to do well on the GRE:
1. Register Early.
2. Prepare for the test. Even if you are an 'A' student, doesn't mean you will do well on the GRE without preparing.
3. Work on what you are not good at, not what you are good at! Students who are good at math will spend their time studying for math! This doesn't help. Focus on what you are NOT good at!
4. You have to do well on both quantitative and verbal. A perfect quantitative score but a weak verbal score or vice versa will hurt your chances of admission.
5. Study in groups – it really helps!