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Why Study in the U.S.?

Students and parents share their opinion on the United States as an ideal study destination.

The United States has long been a popular study destination for Indians. “A U.S. degree is recognized all over the world, and students are taught to think for themselves, unlike in India where everything is exam and grade oriented,” says Shobha Kulshrestha, whose daughter Kritika graduated this May from The University of Texas at Austin with a master’s degree in journalism.  

Dinesh Sapru, whose son Aakash is an MBA student at Iowa State University (ISU), seconds this view. “I believe that the United States is a land of opportunities,” he says. “I also wanted my son to gain a broad international exposure which, combined with a business degree, will hopefully open up interesting job prospects for him.”

Selecting the academic institution is one of the most important aspects of studying abroad. Aditya Vashistha, a Ph.D. student of computer science at the University of Washington, says, “I was pursuing research at an industrial research institution before starting graduate school in the U.S. This gave me opportunities to attend international conferences and workshops, where I was able to interact with leading professors and graduate students pursuing research in the same area. I shortlisted institutions on the basis of recommendations from colleagues and my interactions with professors and the graduate student community actively engaged in my research domain.”

Increased professional opportunities is considered an important advantage of pursuing higher studies in the United States. Sangita Mukherjee, whose daughter Sananda recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in architecture, says, “When my daughter wanted to go abroad for higher education, I was a bit worried since she would be very far away from home. But I knew that this experience would open up a whole world of opportunities that she might otherwise not have had access to.” Sananda and her mother selected the University of Southern California because it has a great faculty. “The kind of research the professors were involved in coincided with my academic goals and would, ultimately, lead me into the industry with a smooth transition,” says Sananda. 

Study costs, however, are an important consideration too. Aakash Sapru says, “My choice of the institute was based primarily on the scope of core management courses offered by them. Through my Skype interviews with officials from the university, I got to know about the plethora of professional development opportunities I could leverage at ISU. But, being offered a scholarship and the position of a graduate assistant also influenced my decision to select ISU.”

There are other important factors besides an institution’s reputation or ranking. “I knew that The University of Texas at Austin had a great reputation as a public university,” says Kritika Kulshrestha. “But it was still a difficult choice to make. I used LinkedIn to find alumni and connected with them to find out more about the department. I also spoke to graduate students in journalism at each of the [shortlisted] universities, and that helped greatly.”

Choosing to study so far away from home is never an easy decision. “Health care is very expensive despite the student health insurance plan. And I was concerned about her safety,” says Shobha Kulshrestha. Dinesh Sapru adds, “Being a parent, it is only natural to be concerned about the health and security of the child, even though we are convinced that in a country as advanced as the U.S., there are options for taking care of such issues.”

Paromita Pain is a journalist based in Austin, Texas.