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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How Not to Choose a Programme for Higher Education Abroad


Many students in India are not well-informed while choosing programmes for their higher education abroad. Hence, they end up applying for programmes without realising how the candidates are selected in Western countries in the universities. This often results in failures, expenditure of a lot of money and investment of a lot of time and energy in the application process, which can be easily avoided. Unfortunately, many companies working in the field of counselling for higher education abroad also don't understand the academic process of the Western universities. 

This is because they don't have academicians on their board to help the students. Rather, they have business professionals to do this job. They look at attracting student-clients as their marketing venture for profit, rather than counselling students for their academic welfare. During the process of the education, the students realise that they could have avoided a lot of trouble if only they had followed diffferent strategies in choosing programmes for themselves.

First, Western universities don't treat higher education as degrees stamped on paper in order to get well-paying jobs without learning much, as is sometimes done in the lesser developed world. Applicants for higher educational degrees abroad should also not treat their applications as such. A lot of thought goes into choosing a programme for application at these institutions. One has to think carefully how a certain programme answers to the intellectual needs of the applicant - in order to understand this, first one has to understand what one's intellectual needs are and why one has those needs. The orientation of a department plays a major role in clarifying this to oneself. One should not apply to a diverse range of programmes on a wholesale basis, without understanding where one is going in life with these different kinds of programmes. This is true of Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Commerce and Business Studies. Each department has a special character and it's important to understand the specific character of each department, even within the same sub-discipline.

Often, students choose a programme because it is the "in-thing" to do so, because their peers are also choosing similar programmes. They often don't have enough preparation to study at that department, have not studied enough related courses or don't have relevant publication or work experience. They sometimes try to cover it up by getting references mentioning their exaggerated abilities, work experiences or research work. While such strategies may get them admission, such students land into trouble when they actually begin their study abroad. There is a large number of students who are not able to complete their Graduate studies abroad and move from one institution to another, wasting a lot of time and money. Many also return to India without completing a degree. Those who complete their education, find themselves at a disadvantage in their careers. Hence, one should not choose a programme under peer pressure or because it is the trend. The entire aim of the Western higher education is to teach the students to think for themselves individually. Going for a degree just for the sake of it doesn't help in the long run. One should understand what kind of preparation one has had in the past to study a particular subject, how to genuinely fill up lacunae that exist in one's profile and whether one will be able to sustain interest in this particular programme in the long run. Sometimes, it is wiser to take an extra year to prepare better for a particular programme rather than trying to get in at any cost.

Many students in India have a false impression that there is a particular GRE/GMAT score that will get them into a prestigious programme. In fact, this is not the reality. GRE/GMAT scores at best help the application to get past the first screening. Beyond that stage, they don't have much role to play. The selection committees really look at how best the candidate is intellectually and academically prepared to do well in their department. For this, the academic value of the writing sample, the intellectual orientation of the Statement of Purpose and the way the letters of recommendations are written are of utmost importance. There are actually cases when candidates with lower GRE/GMAT scores were selected into a prestigious programme over those with higher GRE/GMAT scores, on the strength of the academic value of their applications. In fact, near-perfect GRE/GMAT scores sometimes are seen as reflections of an average academic potential, with a high drive to do well on a standardised test. Such an ability may be critical for an Indian examination like the Civil Services Exam, but not for the institutions of higher learning in the West, where a serious commitment to one's academic discipline is perceived as a greater asset. Hence, students should not do badly on their GRE/GMAT exams, but they should also not make their high GRE/GMAT scores as benchmarks for selecting programmes. Rather, they should understand the internal academic profile of a department while applying to it.
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About this Site -
    We are here to help you get a good-quality education abroad, preferably with as less loans and charges as possible. We don't take any commission from any university and charge you a small amount as compared to what some other businesses in this field charge.

    We give you the following services - 
    • Help you locate  universities for your desired programme which either fund your programme, or charge as little as possible.
    • Help you identify newly emerging programmes which have good opportunities and lead you to fulfilling lives.
    • Help you with writing Statement of Purpose and Writing Sample. You will write the first draft and we will improve the quality.
    • Give you information about visa.
    • All our services are offered online so you don't spend time travelling to meet us. 
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    • Please see the Paypal link above for making a payment. 
    • You can write to us on the link saying on top, "Write to me," or use email address artandheritage@gmail.com. 
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