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Sometimes I find myself so caught up with helping students through the study abroad application process, that I forget to address a basic question – why should an Indian student study abroad in the first place?

Each student has his/her own reasons for wanting to study abroad. Let me go through some of those in brief.

Some students dream of studying abroad because they simply want to have a new experience and be exposed to different things. Indeed, studying in another country offers not only novel academic content, but also a new culture of learning. In the US for example, in many colleges students are not even expected to choose a course of study (major) until the end of their second year. The culture promotes students exploration so that they can broaden their minds before choosing a course of study. If you’re a student who craves such freedoms an education abroad might enlighten you in new ways.

Other applicants see the chance to study abroad is a ticket out of India — they hope for the opportunity to work, or even settle abroad. While the educational route to immigration has a long historty behind it, it is not such a sure bet anymore, especially in countries like the US or UK, where the best educational opportunities tend to be found. Canada is the main exception, with excellent education and lots of opportunity for foreign graduates. If this is your goal, make sure you have done your homework on job placements for international students before sinking money into a foreign degree, only to return to India.

Then there are the truly passionate applicants – those who want to pursue a certain academic topic, which they feel can be best explored outside of India, e.g. students who have a passion for food or sports find that education in those areas is not well developed domestically. This path can be enriching for both the student as well as society at large because often these graduates return to India and create valuable new business and education endevors back at home. For example Le15 patisserie’s founder, Pooja Dhingra, studied hospitality in Europe and attendend the prestigious Parisian Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy before returning to India to start her own venture. In only four years Le15 has grown over 250 percent and turned over more than Rs 1.55 crore.

Finally, for some studying abroad is a numbers game. If they can afford college abroad, the chances of getting a good education outside India are much better than inside. Besides the hyper competitive IIT’s, which take years of preparation even before entry, the entry cut offs for most decent Indian colleges remain ridiculously high. Students whose scores limit their entry into top Indian colleges can easily get admitted into a top 50 US college. This is simply a matter of supply and demand. The student is still as bright as his peers anywhere in the world, there are just fewer students like him outside India’s borders. So from this perspective International colleges should feel lucky to get the overflow of India’s bright students.

 Whatever your reasons for considering study abroad, it will, no doubt, be a mind expanding experience that will help you grow academically and personally to discover more than you could ever have imagined.

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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

  1. Does the IEC belong to a professional association such as IECA with established and rigorous standards for membership?
  2. Do not trust any offers of guaranteed admission to a school or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships.
  3. Ensure that the IEC adheres to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA.
  4. Find an IEC that visits college, school, and program campuses and meets with admissions representatives regularly in order to keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures.
  5. Do they attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law?