A Victim of the Herd Mentality

A Victim of the Herd Mentality — Shared by Kartik

We discussed about Heard Mentality in  Graduates from India – High in Quantity but Low in Quality which lead to heated discussion.

Right from my school days, I’ve always gone with the flow. What the majority do. Or at least what my group of friends do.

After my 10th (2004), took CSE branch ( Math, Phy, Chem, CS ) just because IT was still booming then and I loved computers ( gaming and internet that is, not coding or programming).

After 12th, went for a B.E. in CS again without really thinking seriously about it. Joined college, pulled thru the 4 years without ever being really excited or even interested in what I was studying. Thankfully I emerged unscathed ( read no arrears ) after 4 years and even more fortunately got placed in the IT firm I’m currently working for.

During college, 3 of my (school) friends ( we were at different colleges) suggested we do something to add some value to our ‘profile’. Since not one of us had the slightest inclination to present papers and stuff, they decided on doing some certification which might help us getting placed.

Credit – Flickr – [email protected]

So we ended up with an SCJP ( Sun Certified Java Programmer ) and all of us got jobs ( different firms but all IT majors ). Let me add that all 3 of them graduated with Distinction and I could only manage an FC.

Higher Education

I never liked thinking ahead, planning further studies. Still, I had decided that among GATE, CAT and GRE my most realistic chances were with GRE and so if I did decide to pursue higher study then it had to be via GRE.

I have another school friend with whom I used to go to tuition in 12th. He did his college in a different city so would come to meet me whenever he came here. Always talked about how important one’s profile is.

He has presented quite a papers too and was forever advising me to do the same. I just dismissed it thinking college is the time to just enjoy and be merry. It could come back to hit me now. Btw he’s now at the reputed Johns Hopkins univ.

Path Towards GRE

Another thing for me was whether MS would be affordable ( middle-class family ). Was uncertain whether to take GRE or not. Also the new pattern was set to come into effect from Aug so last chance to take it in old pattern would go forever after July. So decided to take it at least to have tried it in old form once and registered in Feb for a date in July. Needless to say didn’t bother studying right upto a month before the test.

Started with the wordlists and kept noting (on sheets of paper) the words which were completely new to me. Fortunately I was aware of most of the words and was done with the lists in 4-5 iterations.

The math part was challenging but not difficult although making silly mistakes has been in my blood right from school. I’d solve a sum correctly right till the end where I’ll substitute wrong values in the last equation to arrive at the (wrong) final answer. ‘Careless’ is a comment often seen in my answer sheets.

Finished the math in Barrons. I was also flipping thru Kaplans at my office library. Their verbal strategies are good. Having come to a position to take mock tests, started with the Barrons book tests then took the ones on their CD ( don’t remember the scores although I do remember they were quite lower than what I got eventually).

Finally took the first of the powerprep tests 2 days before d-day ( had taken 3 days fake sick leave πŸ˜‰ ). Felt good with a 1390 but realised, right from the book tests, that I was falling woefully short of time in Math section. Decided not to waste too much time on a question that had me stumped.

Took the second powerprep test the next day and felt even better with a 1410. Still hadn’t finished the math section in time though, having to wildly mark the last 5-6 questions. Should’ve worked on the timing better.

For the writing section, I’d just gone thru the sample scored essays in powerprep and got an idea as to what fetches a 6 and 5 and 4. Didn’t give it too much importance.

Prometric Center

Then came d-day. A lady from prometric there said we could choose 4 univs to send our scores to after the exam. This came as a complete surprise to me so I asked her if we can choose to skip it and use that option later. She said she didn’t know 😐 Turned out I can’t and so have lost $80. I’m amazed none of the ppl I was in touch with regd my GRE ever mentioned it to me. Didn’t even come across it in the many articles I had read here.

Went in and started with the test. Thankfully no unspecified experimental section presented itself but I did get a specified one which gave me a chance to win some $ too if I took it so I did, mostly due to the disappointment in missing out on the free score reporting. Turned out be some new writing section.

Before clicking on view scores I kept telling myself to not bother with it much if it is low, as I’d just taken it so that I would not regret having missed the chance in old pattern. As it turned out, Powerprep has zeroed in on my score already back home.

Scored 650V and 750Q for a total of 1400.

Walked out, trying not to be too pleased with myself. Found out later in score report that I’d got a 4 in writing.

Fall or Spring

Now looking up univs. Had initially thought of making the Spring 2013 batch but the fact that not all univs offer CS(again!) in Spring coupled with the myth

Financial aid is even harder to come by in Spring meant that I can only aim for Fall 2013.

Having decided to work for at least 2 years

  1. to save up some money and
  2. hope that the work xp might make up somewhat for the lack of extra curriculars in my ‘profile’.

Gyan from HSB as to whether I still do stand a chance despite having made no presentations of any kind, is welcome. No actually it is solicited ! I know you’ve already warned of going to the US simply for the sake of it rather than having genuine interest to do it.

Yes I do come under the category of ‘ just want to do it to make money’. =| My intention is to spend another 9k (after GRE) for TOEFL and later for all the further application stuff only if I’m confident that I do stand realistic chances of admission into half-decent schools.

Of course, a big thank you to HSB for the continual help πŸ™‚


Myth – Financial aid is even harder to come by in Spring meant that I can only aim for Fall 2013.

I don’t how many times I have to write a post comparing Fall vs Spring.  It total BS to hear some rumor and decide your life without doing some background research.

Working to Save Money : How much money do you think you are going to save by working for 2 years in India?  Your first semester fees will be $6,000 to $10,000

With Entry level salary, cost of living in India, I doubt you can save a lot. Lets say you happen to save Rs 5,000 per month. Working for 2 years will get you $2,400. Not even half of first semester fees.

Work Experience : If you are MBA your work experience is MUST. [ Review – Beyond the MBA Hype ]

For MS, it hardly matters. 2 Years work experience will not have much impact in your admission process.


  1. Shefali on February 1, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Does work experience really not count while applying to the U.S universities?
    I have been told that your chances of admit from any University increases.Of course other factors matter as well.

    KIndly clarify.

    • HSB Counselor on February 2, 2013 at 4:44 AM

      Hi Shefali, Work experience would help for those programs where it is an requisite for programs such as MS MIS, Engineering Management etc. It can help otherwise also if it has been in commensuration with your future aspirations.

      Hope this helps!

      • shefali on February 3, 2013 at 1:13 AM

        My question is in keeping with my earlier query of the importance of work ex while applying to US universities for MS.

        I intend to pursue my MS from US.

        I am currently completing my B.E degree in E&TC.
        So,if i take up a job with a software company,for,example,will the work ex gained by
        working there weigh in my favour or no?

        Kindly reply.
        Thank you.

        • HSB Counselor on February 4, 2013 at 5:45 AM

          Hi Shefali, students who gain experience as a software engineer plan to apply for a Masters in CS. If that is what you are looking at, you can go ahead with joining a IT company.
          For Masters in ECE, work experience as a software engineer may not help much. In fact ideally speaking, for admissions into Masters program in US what counts more is your research experience or the projects you have completed in your undergrad programme.
          Hope this clears your doubt. Feel free to check for any further concerns.

  2. Vamsi on October 24, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Hello Friends,

    One more fabulous article here for kids (kidding) who all are MS aspirants….
    People are using this platform to improve their articulating skills. The guy who haven’t presented any paper during his academics described his experience very sensibly on this platform and that too in a most productive way where his idea can help others too…. Its quite motivating and i’ll come with an article shortly…. we’ll see how helpful it can be for HSB readers…..


    • HSB on October 24, 2011 at 9:41 PM

      When you finish the post, send it along.

  3. munna on October 24, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Great post. But the candidates should know that GRE and getting admission in USA university and F-1 Visa is just a small step in your career. what is your aim in life? If your aim is to get a good job in life, you should think again because it is very difficult nowadays to get job in USA after completing MS for international students.

  4. amit kumar on October 24, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    Had initially thought of making the Spring 2013 batch but the fact that not all univs offer CS(again!) in Spring coupled with the myth……

    What is this can anyone tell me more about this… wthr i can join in spring wth CS or nt?????

    • HSB on October 24, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      Post updated.

      • Awes on October 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        HSB your posts are excellent, i hope these accumulates to become an encyclopedia.
        By the way, in the post”Fall vs Spring Semester in USA” and under the heading “Attending School – Fall Semester” says that “So, you will become eligible for Internship by end of Spring 2010 semester (May 2009). You be go for internship from May 2009 to Aug 2009.”
        Please correct it, if i am not wrong – “You be go for internship from May 2010 to Aug 2010.”

        • HSB on October 24, 2011 at 2:58 PM

          According to F1 Visa rules, you can apply for CPT (Internship) after completing 2 semesters of study.

          • Awes on October 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM

            Agreed, still “……………by end of Spring 2010 semester (May 2009)”
            Is it the end of spring 2010 semester was “May 2010”.

          • HSB on October 24, 2011 at 4:34 PM

            I have updated that post wrt to Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.

      • Vamsi on October 25, 2011 at 5:17 PM

        Hi HSB,

        Hope you’re doing good!

        May I request you the reason why my comments are not able to view for others. I’ve tried to respond for few debates since last one week but not even one got published in the blog. Is this problem araised only for me or even others are suffering like me with the same problem…??

        Initially I can see my comment every time when it’s waiting for your moderation but after that it disappears…. No clue or reasons I have why this happens….

        But end of day it’s literally very painful for anyone after spending some time to read and respond to the article…. Very disappointed since there’s no chance for participation… Would like to know your thoughts on this…..


        • HSB on October 25, 2011 at 5:32 PM

          All the comments you have posted so far are visible and approved. I don’t have any pending comments from you. So far you have posted 15 comments.

    • shanthi on October 24, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      This is when you must realise an education consultant who knows their job will help. We do come across plenty of students who fall in with the herd…not getting any proper councelling
      It is not juist about doing a TOEFL/GMAT/GRE or other test preps…You need councelling and career mapping to move up the ladder
      Just like the real estates..although you can sell or buy houses on your own..u would still want an agent to do the paper work in the proper way.
      Get in touch with a good education consultant who knows the regulations and can give you the best guidance

  5. Rahul on October 24, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Wonderful post man πŸ™‚ …

  6. yash garg on October 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    one question is coming to my mind is how to select those 4 universities……

    • Awes on October 24, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      One thing i would like to share is – for GRE & TOEFL the candidate can specify 4 universities for forwarding the score. But, it has to be specified before the candidate take-up the exam, i.e. before you know your score.
      You all should be remembering the “CollegeWeek Live” event that took place few days back. In this event i asked the same question to an representative of Education USA – “Should the candidate need to specify the 4 universities for reporting the score before knowing the result ?”. She answered “I understand that one should be aware of scores secured before forwarding to university………..but these are for FREE, and one should take advantage of it………and additional scores can be forwarded by paying service charges”

  7. RAVITEJA on October 24, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    simply superb article…Thanks for sharing ur experience.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New Comments Policy
Please use the Happy Schools Forums to post your Questions. Use the Comments Section to add value or contriute to the Article, not for Q&A. Questions posted in the Comments section will be Deleted.