The US has been a much-coveted destination for students wishing to pursue education abroad. There are several reasons for this, and they vary with whom you ask, but broadly, they can be summarized as a combination of the following: quality of education, choice of universities and courses, options available after graduation, scholarships and funding, less competition compared to Indian universities, an orientation to research even at the undergraduate level and international exposure.
Let’s take a look at some of them in more detail.
The US education system is uniquely learner-oriented, and it offers students different kinds of flexibility.
First, there’s flexibility about course selection. You can change your major throughout your bachelor degree, and choose your major as late as the beginning of your third year. The advantages of a system like this are manifold since a class XI-XII student doesn’t know enough about Economics or Engineering or Humanities to make an informed decision about which subfield of these he or she would like to make a career in. Instead of enrolling in Mechanical Engineering because their classmates are doing so, students can actually take a couple of years studying subjects of their choice, see what interests them and then take a final call.
At the time of application, you only need to say that you’re applying for Bachelors. You can always change your mind later. You don’t even need to stay with the same major, for you can mix and match majors and choose double majors to improve your employability and ensure that you stay interested throughout your bachelors.
Second, there’s flexibility about course duration. Unlike in India, where if you choose a 4-year program you cannot finish it in 3 or 5 years, in the US, programs can range from 3 to 5 years depending on your comfort level. There are pros to finishing in 3 years, for you save 1.5 years of tuition and start to earn sooner. There is a quicker and greater return on your investment in your education this way. However, if you feel your year is getting too hectic, you can take it slow and take the summer semester off. It would take you longer to complete your degree, but it would ensure that your grades are not getting affected. Moreover, if you come down with a long illness, you can pick your education right where you left it. No one asks how long you took to complete your bachelors; what matters is your performance and how much you learnt.
Third, there’s academic flexibility. Instead of one or two exams in the whole year, there’s continuous evaluation so that your round-the-year efforts don’t go waste if you fall sick on the exam day. The exams are also shorter and tend to be open book exams or take-home exams, which test application over memory. This makes sure your learning is practice-based and meaningful. You even get credits for internships and the like, so it’s not all academic either.
In India, if you wish to pursue research, you’ve to do the whole drill: Bachelors, Masters, MPhil and then PhD. But in the US, if you want to pursue research, you can proceed directly to the PhD as early as during the final year of your Bachelors.
In India, if you ruin one year of your degree, you’ve probably ruined your entire degree. But in the US, you get a second chance repeatedly. If you’re doing well, you can even get transferred to a better college, so the first college that you get doesn’t determine where you will graduate from.
There are also the added advantages of encountering a lot of cultural diversity and international exposure at a US university since 35% of the admissions are international students. But there’s still less competition compared to Indian universities like the IITs and the medical schools, because of the sheer number of quality institutions.
This flexibility translates directly into professional success, for you’re taking courses that you want to take, you’re good at and are not simply memorizing. Your chances of doing well professionally go up automatically. At the end of your three years (or 4 years, or 5 years), you emerge content, enriched and bound for success.