This is the #1 Lesson Learned Studying Abroad is Not What You Think

I started writing this blog post to answer a specific question from a reader. But, the focus shifted to “This is the Biggest Lessons Learned Studying Abroad” as I began to write.

I’m still going to use the question from the reader as the starting point. This blog post touches upon several smaller topics

  • Importance of Taking Steps (even small).
  • What happens if you run away from the problems
  • Key skills and traits that differentiates successful people from the rest us.
  • The biggest lessons learned studying abroad is not the technical education or form the books.

When you finish reading this post, I want you to take One Simple Action.

Graduate Education in America is not accessible to students with three year Bachelor’s degree.

If you have graduated with a 3 year Bachelor’s Degree from India (B.Sc, B.Com, BCA), then one more year of college education is required to apply for Graduate School in America.

U.S. Universities need 4 years of college degree or total of 16 years of education to be eligible to apply for Graduate School.


Hello Sir,
It’s just like any other mail to you. But for me its a question of my life and career. I mailed you because you looked well informed in an article I have just read. A single response from you will make a difference in my life. Please read and reply.

I have recently completed my B.Sc in Math Computer and Management, a 3 year degree from Punjab University at Patiala, India.

I had got a reappear in 5th semester of B.Sc, which is due till this December. And because of this, I couldn’t apply for any other degree after graduation. I still got hope to clear the exam during re-evaluation.

My B.Sc aggregate is near 71%. I have come to Chandigarh, India to take all three tests – GRE, IELTS and TOEFL.

USA isn’t my motive. It can be Canada or USA.

I have paid for a GRE and TOEFL course in an institute. But yesterday I came to know that 3 year degree issue.

Someone told me that Universities don’t give admission in Canada for Post Graduate degree, if we don’t have a 4 year degree from India.

I just want a suggestion. What should I do? Should I Take all three tests? Please guide me. My father, an ordinary farmer of a village has high expectations from me. He always let me do whatever I want. Everything’s upon me and I have no guidance.

Comments and Emails from Readers:

I get several emails from Happy Schools Readers. And I ignore some emails. And I reply to some.

How do I select an email to reply or ignore?

I look at the severity of the person’s situation. Plus, few more factors.

That decision is pretty instant. But, the fact is for emails I ignore, I feel bad for the folks who wrote to me. They have taken the time to write to me. But I have to be honest with my priorities, goals and time limit.

Time = Money.

If you pay for my consulting services, then all ears. I’m entitled to answer your questions. But, when you send me an email or post a comment, you may never hear back from me. Sometimes, I use an pre-written reply. But, I do respond to readers who are “active readers”.

I wrote about how to build your personal brand by being active here in Happy Schools Community. Here’s why I don’t respond at times and reasons why choose to reply.

1. Poorly Written Email = Move to Trash

I know where my writing and speaking skills stand today. And they are below average to my expectations. My writing style have evolved over the years. It’s influenced by the books I read and courses I attend. I try not to make mistakes. I do spell checks and grammatical errors. These days, I use an Editor, which highlights hard to read sentences, grammatical errors as I write.

If you look at some of the emails, comments and questions I receive, I know why universities ask for TOEFL and IELTS scores.

You would argue that why Universities ask for TOEFL or IELTS test scores. You should read the comments and emails.

There’s difference between updating your Facebook status and ability to express your thoughts in writing.

Original Question:

Following the the screenshot of the original question (via email).

poorly written email example


I’m still replying because, I want you guys to know (and learn) the importance of writing well. Writing with a hook.

Ability to articulate your thoughts in writing is have MUST have Skill.

If you don’t have that skill, you are going to find it hard to survive and succeed in your career.

2. Do Your Home Work.

There’s ton of free resources. Just make an honest effort to learn.

  • Start somewhere.
  • Search in Google with keywords that you think.
  • Learn from the top search results
  • Then improvise your search query

Your question reflects your knowledge of the subject.

People judge you based on your questions.

You can create an impression by how your questions via email.

It’s easy to figure out, if you need spoon-feeding or redirection towards the right answer. I just have to read skim or read few sentences of your questions.

If you are applying for Car Driver job, I would expect you to know car driving, road rules, defensive driving, car maintenance, basic car toruble shooting.

If you are applying for Swim Guard position, I would expect you can float in the water, you can swim and CPR certified.

Likewise, I would expect you to have basic level of skills if you are planning to study abroad.

Skills like,

  • Searching for an information
  • Finding solutions to problems at hand.
  • Knowing where to start looking for answers and solutions
  • Ability to sorting many solutions and pick the best possible solution.


  • Knowing when to Ask for help.
  • Knowing and collecting list of few trusted sources for answers.

Let me pause for a second. There’s two group of people.

  • Group 1: Someone who can can feel and understand that they need to improve specific skills (if they fell they have a weakness)
  • Group 2: Someone who can’t (or don’t know) that they have a weakness and they need to improve.

Do you get what I’m saying?

P.S. Knowing that you have a weakness in itself is a skill. It shows maturity. Trust me. There are people who don’t have those skills.

[Tweet “Knowing that you have a weakness in itself is a skill. There are people who don’t have those skills.”]

Here’s an example from a comment made by a prospective student planning to study abroad.

study abroad process confusing

I want to study abroad, I don’t where to start. Everything is so overwhelming, confusing and I lack confidence.

Here’s something that stands out and it’s pretty common among students planning to study abroad.

  • Should I join some Coaching?
  • Should I join an admission consultant?

jason Lezak relay finishHere’s an BEST Example I can give you about this situation.

Michael Phelps was getting ready to swim on U.S.A. Relay Team for 4x100m in Beijing Olympics. French team were the heavy favorites to win the gold medal.

When their hopes faded away in the last leg where they were trailing by half second, came the BEST Swim of Jason Lezak to win the Gold media for U.S.A.

Picture on your right is from NYTimes graphical narration of the Finish.

This may not be the apt example, but let me try to highlight the point I’m trying to emphasize here.

  • You are working hard.
  • You are making progress towards your goal.
  • You have good understanding of the process, but you need an Edge.

An edge that will give you a fraction of second advantage or huge advantage. But, you need that edge. Just like how Jason edged out the claim the Gold.

Just like Type A personality, Ivy league MBA applicants who get help from High Profile Business School admission consultants.

Seeking coaching when you need to find that Edge is different from seeking coaching when you are worried, nervous, scared and running away from problems.

Do you see the differences?

You have a problem. seeking help when you are facing the problems of higher magnitude is totally acceptable.

You have a problem, seeking help even before you start tackling the problems is something I don’t accept or approve.

Don’t Run away form the problem even before facing it.

So, if someone approaches me via an email or blog comment and if they are running away from a problem, I don’t like to reply to them.

I have ton contents here in the blog. Take time to read few more blog posts.

People find a blog page from google. They read one page and post the question, when solution could be just a click away.

Now comes the most important part of this article – the biggest lesson learned from studying in America.

Lessons Learned Studying Abroad

Here’s something I learned, experienced and realized form my Graduate School Experience. And I think, this is the biggest lesson anyone could get from studying abroad.

The essence of studying in foreign country is not what you will gain from the college courses, which helps you learn technical skills and finding a job.

Studying in a foreign country Will Teach You How to Learn.

In other terms: You will Learn How to Learn.

It’s that simple.

[Tweet “While you Study Abroad You will Learn How to Learn. You will Learn How to Live Better”]

Travel teaches you to learn. When you coming travel with education, you will multiply the effects by several factors.

Ok. Why, I chose to reply to this email?

The first sentence had that emotional touch to it.

Yet another email, but it’s my life and career.

Plus, she has did her homework. She took steps and stuck at a place when she heard about the about the problem of 3 years degrees is not sufficient to apply for Graduate School.

Difference between you being stuck in a low level of your position vs growing the corporate ladder is how you differentiate yourself.

  • You do that by being proactive.
  • You to that by being better communicator.
  • You do that by being better problem solver that others.

This skill of being proactive, taking steps to solve a complex problem is is not taught in the schools.

  • Some have it within them.
  • Some acquire through effort.
  • Some, just don’t get it.

Now, let’s get into actual question, which I answered here in Q&A Section – How to apply for MS in Canada or USA with 3 year BSC from India.


  • Don’t run away from a problem.
  • Learn to communicate better with style.
  • Let your words show you are intelligent and well informed.
  • Get help, but don’t seek help because you want to run away from a problem.

Action Steps:

Tweet one of the following ACTION ITEMS

[Tweet “While you Study Abroad You will Learn How to Learn. You will Learn How to Live Better”]

[Tweet “Don’t run away from a problem. Face it Head On.”]

[Tweet “Problem is a Problem Until Another Problem of Higher Magnitude Challenges to You”]


  1. git on July 31, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    I see all these students taking 20 lakhs, 30 lakhs in loans and hoping to pay it back after getting a job in the US. But the reality is if you don’t get into a top tier school it’s hard to get a job in the US. And even if you get a job there is no guarantee that you will get h1b to stay in the US.

    Most incoming students don’t know the reality of the US job market and immigration.

  2. babatunde on July 13, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    You sound pretty much informed about schools in canada and here is my question.I have been admitted in a school in canada and my admission package was delivered to me last month. I havr also compiled all my necessary supporting documents.But the issue am having is I.was informed its better I submit my documents not just online but also through a travelling agent for visa.Secondly,I was told its better I made a deposit of like $10000 canadian to the school before applying for visa that such action will boost my visa approval.please how true is all these

  3. [email protected] on July 11, 2015 at 11:01 PM

    Dear Sir,
    I am assistant Professor in NIT hamirpur (HP)India.I am interested in phd admission from USA or canada in Electrical engineering or energy. Kindly suggest me what should i have to do for admission.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on July 20, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      Take the required tests and then apply 🙂

  4. shuchita on July 7, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    Hello sir,I am Shuchita and have been reading your blog lately. Thank you for all the information, its very helpful.Currently pursuing my B.Tech in Computer Science(2013-17) and want to complete my master’s from USA.Sir I have just one query and really don’t know whom to ask but you.What is the industrial requirement in USA?Should I go for MS Computer science or MS Software Engg. or DBMS?You being from the same field and a software engineer; are the best person to answer my query.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on September 12, 2015 at 6:18 AM

      Try of MS in CS. But, other courses doesn’t really matter. It will all lead you to Software Engineer job 🙂

  5. Nisha on July 6, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    Sir,can you guide for undergraduate study in u.s.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on July 6, 2015 at 4:17 PM

      What sort of help do you need?

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