Preparing for Education Abroad after Grade X
A lot of students from India are increasingly opting to go to top-notch institutes outside their country after their grade XII. Increasingly students are looking at a broad swathe of courses over and beyond engineering – design, humanities, psychology and business are some of the more popular streams these days. However many students still opt for sub-par tier-2 universities and often time do not prepare well for these colleges.
Further, there is extensive misinformation in the market it and impacts the quality of your decision making. We shall try to answer some common questions that students have.
Q. Should I start preparing for colleges outside India right after Grade Tenth?
There is a common misconception that getting into a great college outside India is easy. On the contrary, top colleges have extremely low acceptance rates. As a common rule, getting into a good IIT is easier than getting into Caltech or MIT. So, you should at least prepare as extensively as you would for IITs. This means that you should definitely start preparing as soon as your grade tenth exams are over. Often times, students start their preparation as early as grade ninth.
Q. What kind of preparation need I undertake to get into a great college?
Unlike India, top colleges abroad offer a multi-dimensional path to entry. In India, while the path is exam-driven and deterministic, USA and other international study destinations offer a multi-pronged approach to admission.
You could be an academic superstar or be great in co-curricular pursuits. Some others choose to showcase their leadership and organizational abilities through the positions of responsibility that they have held. Many showcase the depth of their experience and focus on their internships. And most students demonstrate their passion for a chosen field through deep experience in specific extra-curricular, sports or social activities.
The only constant is ‘demonstrated commitment.’ – Picking out a profile that is unique to you and demonstrating excellence through years of hard work and progressive improvement is one sure shot method of crafting a successful application. Copy-paste or just doing an activity for the sake of it usually does not work.
That is why it is extremely important for you to start early. It takes time to build and showcase ‘demonstrated-commitment.’ There are a few general pre-requisites like SAT (or ACT) tests and academic proficiency. Over and beyond those, you can choose and build your own ‘path.’ It is important to give time to the path that you have chosen, and hence starting early is extremely critical.
Q. Is it very expensive to study outside India?
Yes, study abroad options could be very expensive. The total cost for four years of study could rack up to about $ 200,000 or more. That amounts to close to 1.3 crore rupees. However, remember this is the highest that you would end up paying for four years of education. If you are able to secure scholarships, you can discount your costs by as much as 90%. MIT, Stanford and other top IVYs offer need-blind scholarships and we have had students whose total expense for the four year of education was Rs. 10 lacs.
Our generic advice is to get an admission first and then focus on getting a scholarship. Getting an admission at a top university is much more difficult!
Q. What kind of universities should I target for my studies abroad?
I see advertisements across multiple channels offering admissions to students as late as July/ August – barely weeks before the session is scheduled to start. Please understand that getting into a tier-2 university outside India is not worth your time and effort. If you want to study abroad, then nothing short of the best should do. You will be spending a lot of money and it is your future (or that of your child) that is at stake. A tier 2 university is much worse than a corresponding tier 2 university in India.
Focus on getting into a great college else stay back in India.
Q. Do I need an education consultant?
May be not!
As already noted, getting into top schools is extremely difficult. You need to be well prepared. Having a consultant support you is not a must. However, if you find someone who himself has been to a top school and can advise you with your best interests at heart, then you will certainly benefit. Choose for yourself!
(In full disclosure, we ourselves have studied at Harvard, MIT and Stanford and our opinions are driven by the biases that we hold)
Q. Does it make sense to go to the US while Trump is the president?
I get that a lot!
American Universities are sites of exploration and innovation due to their kaleidoscopic diversity. And to maintain diversity in their programs, these universities need international students. But for them, the universities shall see an undesirable loss - culturally and financially (wherein the fee structure for an international student is about 2.5 times that of local students), which is clearly hard to ignore. With or without Trump, US universities would continue to be attractive destinations for international students. These are clearly some of the best places in the world to study. And the economic merit of these students, from the point of the university and the labor market, would ensure that they continue to be in demand.
There are many other factors that you need to take into account as you start preparing for your education abroad. Prepare well and start early. And surely, your efforts would be rewarded well!
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