Want to study in the US? Take some expert advice on why and how to go for overseas education

By: | Updated: March 14, 2016 1:47 PM

There were about 103,000 Indian students in the US in the academic year 2014-15 according to a report released by 'Open Doors Report' on international educational exchange, more than double the number of students 15 years ago.

Education- LIn photo, Sergio Abramovich (left) and Ranil Herath (right)

For many Indian students, the US is the preferred destination for education and this trend has shown a steady increase over the years. There were about 103,000 Indian students in the US in the academic year 2014-15 according to a report released by ‘Open Doors Report’ on international educational exchange, more than double the number of students 15 years ago. For most international students, the appeal is likely to be a combination of gaining a high-quality education, experiencing immersion in a new culture, gaining a global mindset and expanding future employment prospects.

In an interview with Sergio Abramovich, vice-president, international business development and operations, DeVry Education Group and Ranil Herath, managing director- international, DeVry Education Group, a global provider of educational services and the parent organisation of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Becker Professional Education, Carrington College, Chamberlain College of Nursing, DeVry Brasil, DeVry University and its Keller Graduate School of Management, Ross University School of Medicine and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, Financial Express online discussed how for many Indian students the idea of leaving home is daunting, but it is also an exciting challenge that often leads to improved career opportunities and a broader understanding of the way the world works. Excerpts from the interview:

What are the foremost points that international students need to keep in mind while filling out applications for overseas education?
Sergio: Students must think of their career aspiration and what direction they want to go. Based on that the academic programme should be the first thing they should look at. Then they must consider the type of institution they wish to enroll into – are they looking for a large traditional university, or a small one, or job concerned university. These are some of the primary points I believe students should keep in mind. Once you’ve firmly decided on your program and institution, you should start to think about your application.

Can you give guideline to students’ preparatory work to get admission?
Sergio: Firstly, everything you do has to be about ‘you’. Secondly, students must be able to tell a story – its not a recitation of facts. Students must be able to answer these 4 questions to themselves – 1) Where are you coming from? 2) Where are you going? Why you want to do this? Why this is going to help you move from where you are to when you want to go? This is an essential part of your story and why you are different. Once a student in clear in his/her mind then achieving any goal is easy.

One of the greatest impediment for most International students is financial management. Do institutes in the US provide funding opportunities to make education affordable, including scholarships, fellowships, studentships, sponsorships, grants, etc?
Ranil: There are a myriad of other funding opportunities available in the US. Ours (DeVry Education) is one of those few institutions that offers financial aid to both foreign and domestic students. For Undergraduate programme, the highest scholarship we offer is $20,000. For Bachelors programme we have $8,000 scholarship. They are both academic merit based, so the students’ aptitude will earn this scholarship. It is highly competitive, however, 44 per cent of Indian students who come to DeVry earn this scholarship.

Do universities in the US encourage students who wish to earn and learn simultaneously?
Ranil: At DeVry, we not only encourage students to earn and learn, but we go beyond that. Here students get actual US work experience. They don’t do menial jobs, but industry related jobs that we have created. It’s a program called the US Career Experience Program which provides its international students with the opportunity to gain valuable on-campus work experience through a paid, part time job while enrolled. Only international students are eligible to apply for these jobs. Some students work in marketing, some in social media, some in IT. Through this, students are able to build their resume with US work experience.

Is it difficult for students to acquire student visa?
Ranil: In most cases you won’t be able to apply for one until you have received a letter of acceptance from your chosen university. Each stage can take several months. From our part, universities are generally in contact with the consulate for the visas. Students have to go for the interview themselves.

What according to you is the toughest impediment faced by geographically dispersed student population?
Ranil: Managing finances is the main problem for students. Secondly, students get anxious during interviews with the universities. That’s a challenge for many students. Sometimes they are unable to explain their story. Then once they get there, they tend to get homesick – but this is all a part of life. But we work very closely with our students in the process of adaptation.

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How significant and advantageous can online education be in the coming future?
Sergio: Online education is a growing trend. Most universities are now giving emphasis to this. Online education is all about integration of technology and classroom. And with online education being interwoven into the fabric of classrooms and learning models more than ever before, it presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. Universities all over the world are looking at innovative ways to impart education. Students who are unable to come to the US but want to receive Higher Education from the US can do so through online courses. In the coming future, online education is all set to expand massively everywhere. When we talk about online education, we are referring to more classrooms with no more than 30 students per class in a very personalized environment too. However, students must be aware that not all online education will be the same everywhere. They need to be cautious while opting for this.

What are the key takeaways of education abroad, especially in the US?
Sergio: While studying abroad, students are able to develop global view. Students become more global minded professionals with life experiences. US education system is based on debate and interaction of ideas. Its a very useful skill to have today. Capability of working together as a team, is unique to US education system. Being able to defend your point and express your views is a big takeaway besides the life experience of living in another country.

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