Student Stories

Is it worth Spending Ton of Money on Education in USA?

Disclaimer: Because people in this part of the world go apeshit when contrary in essence to the overwhelming majority of opinions, I would like to say that I am not against higher education abroad per se.

My views and writings are an effort to acquaint people with the reality of things and set right the balance which has been unfairly tilted towards the richness and bounty associated with foreign education. Also, I need a muse when I’m bored so deal with it!

Well, its my first post. I couldn’t help but write about the one thing that has occupied my mind for the months I’ve graduated from college. Yes, higher education, outside of India.

What I’m going to write here will mainly be about the US and that’s just because of my personal experience and the experiences of people close to me who are currently pursuing their masters in the US.

Higher Education in the USA

So let’s get started. What’s this whole deal about a masters(or any other degree actually) in the US?

Is it worth it or not? Well, I feel the answer depends.

It depends on what you want in your life, in your career, your financial background growing up and also not in the least, your attachment to your loved ones. Let’s make sense of this from each perspective.

First the Career Aspect

Before you people out there start running to educational ‘consultants'(yeah right) and making your list of safe, moderate and dream universities and feel all nice and dandy about your choices, stop and think whether you need a master’s degree in your line of work.

It might be hard to believe, but sometimes you just don’t need one!

Most people whom I have come across applying to universities spend more time frolicking about how much fun they re going to have to do stuff in the US (they forget that you need money for that!) than evaluating objectively and logically what this degree will do to their career.

I get it. We’re from India and your first trip abroad that too to a first world country might make you feel all excited, but it ends there.

Once you land there, and reality hits you, the excitement evaporates pretty instantaneously.

Now let me make my point.

Electrical Engineering Major

Let’s take for example what has recently been a pretty popular domain for people with an electronics/electrical engineering major to do their masters in-A masters in the VLSI/semiconductors domain.

Now if you want to get the masters and go on to do a Ph.D. and have a career in academia, well, there’s no other place like the US.

But, if what you want is a career in the semiconductor industry, then a masters degree is not the way to go.

What Employers Want

You see, your potential employer in the industry looks at what skills you bring with you to the company rather than what degrees you bring.

More specifically, they look at what experience you have worked with industry standard VLSI tools, which you can get right here in India at a fraction of the price you pay for masters.

Seriously, many people who go for the masters in VLSI have no inkling whether their university provides them access to such tools or how many of the credits they complete towards getting their degree will be composed of VLSI courses.

I know people who went to the US to get the masters in VLSI and now they’re getting masters which specialize in well, nothing because their university just doesn’t have enough courses in VLSI to get a degree!

So before going abroad, you need to decide whether you have a better shot at having a career abroad rather than going just for the sake of it.

Next Post is amazing. You will learn about three options after completing MS in USA in-depth.

Guest Post by Prithvinarayan.

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  1. hello, am currently doing my engg in C.S and i want do MS in US i have a GRE score of 315 toefl -105 … hv little low percentile ….what would u guys think would be a limit for applying to a university listed within top 300 in US ….thanks in advance…..

  2. Hi My score in gre is 315(math: 166 verbal:149) . I want to study MS in USA for the sake of getting a job there. Please give your suggestions of how much i should score in toefl to get a top notch university.

  3. Only one thing mate , I ,100% agree with you , over there when one does his/her Masters , they’ll learn harsh realities and many are really lamenting that they chose masters over working here.
    Another thing that I find quite amusing , is that people who dont have any aim or any field of excitement go there thinkin about the salary figure that they are going to earn in the US , now that’s called optimism

  4. Hello,
    I have completed BCA (12+3)…want to pursue MS in CS……….
    . I score in GRE , V=139, Q=146, Aw= 1.5
    And in IELTS= 6 Band………… I am applied for two University 1) Monmouth University ,2) Virginia International University…… I got I-20 from both…….But now I want know which university have good Success Rate of F1 visa ……


    1. Hi Chintan

      Not to dampen the spirits here…. but please check with your university.. my understanding of graduate studies in US is one needs to complete 16 years of education before going for it.

      And as far as VISA is concerned I don’t think the success rate actually depends on the University you choose. In my opinion you should decide which Uni will be better for you and go with that one.

  5. Hi,
    I am looking forward to do a PG Diploma in Networking and Telecommunication from one of the community colleges in Canada. It is a 1 year course and fee is substantially less. But will I get enough job opportunities in Canada and India?

  6. Hello,

    Nice to read about an analysis into the importance and conscious choice of doing doing a Masters in the US. Your thoughts are certainly true. But I feel a lot of us are here in the US to pursue careers or programs generally hard to access for the general Indian population. For example, it will help readers understand both sides of the situation if you quote a program that is worth studying in the US or Europe, like Aerospace Engineering. The prospects of doing a BTech or a MTech in Aerospace Engineering in India is constraint to the IITs and honestly pursuing it anywhere else, in my opinion, is not worth the time spent for quality. So I think you should highlight that so the readers will clearly understand the difference. Just a thought…

    1. Your thoughts are absolutely valid. I will, like I have written in the post, admit that as far as research is concerned, the US is the best place to be, not only when compared to India, but also when compared to other destinations like Australia, UK or Canada. The reason I wrote this was to make people see the underside of going to US for masters and to acquaint them with the stark realities there. This is hardly discussed and I wanted people to know this so that they can make an informed decision. I am NOT discouraging people from doing a Masters or any other degree abroad.

      Also since you mentioned Aerospace engineering, you are right. Quality programs in such fields are rare in India and are even harder to get into. But, my main concern is what happens after the program(which you will read about in detail in the next post when it is published). Most jobs in the aerospace field are in defense projects for which Indians are not eligible. They will hire only US citizens and green card holders. If you come back in India, the opportunities here in the aerospace field donot justify the cost (in terms of money or the quality of work) that you have incurred in doing your masters abroad.

      1. I will add one more point about aerospace engineering from my personal experience. My friend-an indian professor who has green card by the way and teaches engineering at one university in Texas once took some students for an industrial visit cum seminar at Bell Helicoptors. Indian professor was denied entry to enter Bell Helicoptors premises as only US citizens are allowed there, not even green card, forget indian students. for jobs, even american citizens undergo 3 months long background check. After Masters degree in aerospace engineering, when you apply for jobs in companies like that, you application will go in trashbin. all private aerospace companies work as defence contractors and foreigners are not allowed for security whats the use. you will come back to india and find job. so you have to think long term.

      2. Studying aerospace engineering doesnt necessarily mean your first job needs to be in the Aero industry. Lots of international students i know and have studied with have jobs in mech companies and have good prospects to shift to aero ones in a few years. if there are absolutely no opportunites why do u think so many ppl are coming here for a degree in aero engg? it is not impossible and u dont need to be a citizen to get a job in civil aviation industry… just something know from here. but yes i agree with you guys that it is difficult.

    2. I liked what prashanth from bangalore says..
      hi…I am an aerospace engineer..I don’t have any job right now . Is taking up a course like cad/cfd from TTRC n tryin to find jobs n work is better or doing frm any university like hindustan college or parrk college(anna university) is bettter?
      do give ur suggestions…i dont want to waste 1 year…

  7. @ HSB, It`s nice to read such useful articles duly arranged in beautiful fashion which helps the aspirants a lot.
    I`m very new member over here and targeting MS(Engineering Management) for Fall 2013.
    I know its not right forum to ask but I cant figure out the relevant string where I can ask for an adequate insight.
    I have done my BE(Mechanical) in 2011 with secured 68% and have scored 334 in GRE & 114 in TOEFL respectively. I am currently working in NTPC as Graduate Trainee.
    I have completed my engineering in 5 years due to extreme financial hardship at that period.
    So please tell me whether it is going to hinder my chances of admission in US varsities ?

    Thank You in advance.

    Mani Bhushan

    1. hey mani congrats for securing such a good score.can u tell me the books you used to prepare for GRE and Toefl. i am writing gre in july.

      1. I have customized my GRE & TOEFL plan according to my requirements and I never got dependent on any particular book. Infact, I have used my college library which have ample amount of books and made notes from various books. I even referred Knewton books for verbal which was especially meant for GMAT aspirants.
        So, only stuff I can suggest you that first identify your weaknesses and rectify it by all means possible. It`s all sincerity and efficient hard work that matters rest are just nuisance.

  8. Can I know u r major in masters ?? Yes, I do agree with u r points … Well, Let me share my brother experience .. He took Nanotechnology as his major and he did well up to certain point of time, but then he started having health issues and overcome those in the later. He finally accomplished his masters and got good GPA … Here is the thing, he though of doing Ph.d but because of some issues he wasn’t able to do it … In the field of nanotech, one can secure job if he has Ph.d background or else u have to find an another way to move on….. Presently he is doing OPT in Seattle and he is good 🙂

    1. A close friend of mine finished Ph.D. last year in nanotechnology from Purdue University and he got no job. remember Postdoc also pays very little.what is he doing on OPT?

  9. thanks for your valuable post..

    what can you suggest for a pharmacy grad , who is applying for MS in US. Also please suggest some good career courses which have demand in US (not like regulatory affairs)….

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