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7June2012

Busting Some Study Abroad Myths

by Originally published in The HT Education Supplement

Who should consider studying abroad?

When you think of studying abroad several stereotypes come to mind: rich kids from IB schools, total brainiacs from HSC schools or IITians who want an MBA. Well here I hope to muddle those stereotypes a bit and dispel some of the myths around the kind of students who can study abroad.

Myth 1: I am not a topper so I cannot get into any college in the US.Colleges like Harvard and Stanford are distant dreams for almost everyone.

The good news is that there are over 2,500 four-year colleges in the US and thousands more in the UK, Australia, and the rest of the world who welcome international students. If it is your SAT test scores that are tripping you up, take a look at some of the testing-optional programs. While parents often hesitate to spend on lesser-known colleges, such places often offer scholarships to offset the cost and still provide excellent resources, facilities and a valuable education that will prepare you for a great future.

Myth 2: My family cannot afford to send me to college in the US. In fact we can barely afford the application fees.

I worked with two students last year who fit into this category – they studied in the HSC board, with 90-92% in ICSE, scores in 11th & 12th ranging from 78-82%, and with SAT scores just below 2000. They were both awarded Presidential Scholarships at the University of Richmond to study finance (ranked 15th in undergraduate finance programs by Business Week) and got additional aid to cover over 80% of their total expenses for all 4 years. They are proof that deserving students can get a chance, however they were strategic in creating this opportunity and it took a lot of hard work to find the right program and aid package for them (they got other competitive offers as well). And incidentally, several of their application fees were waived.

 

Myth 3: I am into sports, not studies.

 

Great news! The rest of the world values sports in a way that you may have never experienced. In the US there are over 380,000 student athletes many of whom are actively recruited to play for their college teams, thereby almost ensuring their admission. The process for recruitment is complicated and it is important to start early, but there are great resources for helping you get through the process (see below). And if you have been dedicated to a sport or activity, but do not have the talent or interest in pursuing it into college, your deep involvement in something other than studies will likely help to stand out in your application essays and extracurriculars.

 

Myth 4: I am into Arts, not studies.

 

Again, as with sports, the dedication and discipline you have demonstrated in pursuit of your art form will set you apart. It’s important that you are highly honored in your chosen stream (whether Kathak, Painting or Tabla),  and that you have performed widely and won awards – simply being ‘interested’ in music and passing Trinity exams is not enough. This focus also allows you to consider some competitive Arts Colleges that offer an excellent education as well as a refinement of your craft.

 

Still not sure that higher studies abroad is for you? Check out some of the resources below and research how realistic it is.  Talk to anyone you know who has been abroad for college, and meet counselors and representatives from a variety of colleges who visit Mumbai or visit the country centers.

 

Some resources:

 

Government Sponsored help and information: (includes scholarship links)

USA: http://www.usief.org.in/Mumbai.aspx

UK: http://www.educationuk.org/

Australia: http://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/

 

General Resources:

Learn more about US higher Ed including financial aid, athletic scholarships and other considerations: http://www.educationusa.info/

 

Financial Aid and other resources: http://www.internationalstudent.com/

 

Learn more about international athletes: http://www.athletes-usa.com/

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