Be Prepared

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You are in class 12 and are thinking of going abroad to do your undergrad. You know it will be cool, and you also know that if you opt for the US, you need to take the SATs. You’re already thinking about the activities in the college and what you can do every Saturday night with your roommates. There is just one small glitch though. You don’t really know what you want to study!
“That’s the problem when you think of studying abroad, especially when you are undecided about your career path,” says Anjali Koppal, who went to the US to study  computer science. She feels that in India things are pretty straightforward and you know where you are going since there is only one way; from the first year to the second, and so on. And that’s the reason why students are not used to  thinking too much about the course of their study after they have made that one big decision about the field they are going to study in. A similar approach, if applied to any programme in the US, would lead to disastrous results. At an average of $18,000 a year, for four years, you better be knowing what you want to do!
There is a lot of homework that goes into the decision. In whatever programme you choose, there will be different courses (equivalent to subjects) that are available, and some will be required and others will be optional. It will be up to you to decide which ones you want to take up depending on what you want to do in future. Since every course costs an average of $3,000 (depending on the university or college) it is a lot of money to be wasting on rash decisions.
It takes a while before you get the hang of things from a university’s website. So spend enough time looking for the exact details, understanding what it will equip you with to move on, not only in the programme, but also after you graduate. If you can’t find some specific information or have a query relating to a particular aspect, make it a point to write to the correct person and you will surely receive a reply. But for that, you have to take the first step and pose the query. All the email addresses are available on the website. Also, spend some time in figuring out the majors and minors you can take up to make optimum use of your time and effort. Make sure you establish contact with your advisor well in advance so that you build a rapport and learn as much as you can from him or her. It is essential to know all the factors since you are spending a huge amount of money over the degree and must make sure that you get everything right.
There are many people who might be able to help you with technicalities like the application process and the visa system, but the decision of what you want to study and why you want to go abroad has to be your own. Only then will you see it through well.

Volume 1 Issue 6

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