IT’S THAT time of the year when students getting ready for college or leaving college for the next stage in their academic life, are asking themselves big questions.
Should I go abroad, or stay here? What colleges should I apply to? How do I apply? Are there any scholarships or financial aid programmes I can look at? To answer these, and the questions students may not even anticipate, the United States- India Educational Foundation (USIEF) held a three- day counseling session at the Delhi Book Fair in Pragati Maidan last week.
“These sessions are deliberately held at this time because this is when decisions are taken,” says Renuka Rajarao, Country Coordinator, Educational Advising Services, USIEF. “This is when students need the most help. There are too many rumours and too much hearsay doing the rounds about colleges in the US.” Rajarao was speaking on the sidelines of a session on successful strategies to follow when applying to US universities. She said student visa applications had gone up by 20 per cent this year, so it was becoming only more important that students be guided through the application process from the start.
With over 4,000 universities in the US, zoning in on a few is tough.
Here’s how, according to Rajarao, you must narrow down the final list of schools you want to apply to:-
- First, focus on your education and career goals.
- Second, use these to define the education you need.
- And then begin short- listing. Three websites Rajarao mentioned can help you narrow down your search. They are www.gradschools.com, www.petersons. com (it has a tool that actually narrows down your search) and www.collegeboard.org for undergrads. She also suggested that aspirants should visit scholars.google. com to check out the research papers of various professors online.
Looking to apply to a few schools on the East Coast for a Ph. D. in Biological Sciences, Kriti Kalpana was delighted with the session. “I had already done my research on the faculty but I didn’t, for instance, think of getting in touch with the professors before I went,” she said.
Similarly, Neha Gupta, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, from the American University in Dubai, found the session helpful “because they told us repeatedly not to restrict our research to the Internet and that’s exactly what I have been doing — it’s good to know there’s a centre in Delhi where I can access any advice I need,” said Gupta, who is applying to for a Master’s programme that combines product design and communications.
The USIEF website (www.usief.org.in), in fact, is a great place to start your search. A recent addition to the USIEF information bouquet is the EducationUSA hotline, which students can use to access counsellors to answer all their admission related queries.