don't' come to study in the usa
Student Stories

Should Indian Students Still Come to Study in the USA? [2019 Edition]

I started feeling happy for the kids and their families who decided to stay back in India than to face the same fate as many international students here in the USA.

That was the statement by Karthik (an F1 student). And I wanted to know why did he say that.

That leads to an exciting discussion via instant messenger. Here’s what the Karthik had to say about the current scenario in the USA.

Here’s the edited conversation for clarity (transferring from chat to a readable article).

The number of international students hired by the universities and on-campus opportunities does not even up at all.

We (international students) initially come here with a dream of studying hard and making a future, but most of the students end up begging people for part-time jobs.

The education provided to graduate students at the Master’s degree level, for the most part, is pretty easy. But most of the students are not performing great just because of the stress that is on them to support their livelihood.

And there is uncertainty over the job prospect after someone’s graduation; I am pretty sure you know how the market changes its structure from time to time.

Especially when someone has a massive sum of the loan, it puts that person in heavy loads of stress with no certainty in his career or life, unlike other countries where you don’t have restrictions on each and everything you do.

The USA has too many restrictions that force international students to go in the wrong direction and lose focus and forget their primary purpose here (Higher Education).

Until this point, I was listening to what Karthik had to say.

Then I was curious to know what did he mean by “Restrictions are forcing students’ to go in the wrong directions.”

Then, he continued.

Here is just an example of someone I know.

He was a brilliant student back home in India.

His GPA was pretty average. But his analytical skills were terrific.

During his Master’s Degree, he felt that whatever he was doing was useless (he did not think he was learning anything new).

And concluded that he could make more money by just working a part-time job. Which he eventually might have done (earning money). But I am pretty sure; he did not plan on doing when he got a visa to study in the USA.

The universities admit hundreds of students to make more money out of them, the students these days tend to concentrate more on money and not their studies.

Then I replied – “This happens in every school.” And here’s a detailed version of my comment.

The day after students’ land on their college campus, they start looking for an apartment, a place to stay. Once that is taken care of, students who did not have assistantship or scholarship, start looking for part-time jobs. You can see, every new student on campus is walking with a resume to land a part-time job.

He summed up as follows:

We (international students) initially come here with a dream of studying hard and making a future, but most of the students end up begging people for part-time jobs.

So, I wanted to know who to blame for this situation?

The law has been pretty clear ever since the F1 program started. But people did manage to find ways around it. And so did the universities, who took advantage of it.

They make deals with some consultants in India who drive herds of the international student into their universities.

And Karthik asked me, “Where do you think things have gone wrong?”

For which I responded as follows:

“We become frugal and maybe greedy. Things take time. Especially, earning takes time. Education should be first. There’s no point in taking easy just to get a high GPA.”

To be fair, I did slack for the first two semesters as well when I did my Masters.

4.0 GPA after easy courses looked good on the paper, and that did nothing to expand my knowledge boundary. I have written about it here.

And if courses offered by a school is not challenging, then why not make use of the high GPA and apply for transfer to a better school? But when your college education takes second fiddle to money from your first day on the camps, it’s trouble for you in the long run.

All this information about student struggle and what it takes to survive in the USA is public knowledge (more on that later)!

Students know this. They are very well aware of this situation.

They know about OPT, STEM OPT, H1B Visa lottery, and years of wait time for Green Card. Why do are they willing to take up such a steep and uncertain path?

And Karthik continued.

Yeah, true that is, but what could someone do with so much unemployment back home in India.

All this information should be out there for the next generations who are planning to go abroad for the future.

But to be honest, not all people who come for higher education can concentrate on studies. It is a considerable sum, which is impossible to pay off if you work back home (after returning to India).

So, I advise most of my juniors to try as hard as they can and get some work experience wherever they can and then go abroad.

To be honest master’s degree means nothing!

Most employers look for work experience than a Masters’s degree.

Except if you are from a renowned university with excellent research work and projects.

Tha’s where the conversation ended!

Here’s the biggest takeaway for you.

Are you looking for shortcuts in your life or used to doing easy things?

Then the moment you hit a roadblock, you are going to take the path of least resistance and look for the next shiny object.

Why do students spend hours uploading a resume at 100’s of employer’s sites, but very few spend time on networking?

Applying from the comfort of your home – Easy and no barrier to do the work.

Building Network – It’s really hard. Some feel dreaded and some feel shame about asking for help. Some get really anxious. You have to meet strangers, overcome your anxiety for many things just to build one contact and you need more!

Read: Here’s Why Networking is Damn Difficult

Things get difficult every step of your way, especially when you are studying abroad.

Do you know Murphy’s Law (watch the Interstellar movie).

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

And, when things go wrong, how do you react?

That determines how you will feel.

It’s not something or someone to blame. It’s your acceptance or non-acceptance that determines your emotions and how you move forward.

Things that are worth having in life don’t come easy.

You should be willing to fight through the challenges.

Life throws several problems at you and more you solve it, better you will be prepared to face life’s more significant problems.

You have to become a Pro.

Make use of the opportunity from your Study Abroad experience to go from an Amateur to a Pro.

You are fascinated with what life in the USA has to offer, then be ready for other challenges that come as part of the package of living, studying and working in the USA.

The same goes for any other country or choice you make in your life.

Becoming a Pro equals having the maturity to see things from other points of view and the ability to accept the outcomes without negative emotions.

Let me tell you.

It’s not easy to accept negative outcomes.

That’s part of your learning process as you take this higher education and transformational journey of self-discovery.

Most students think studying abroad is all about money, but it’s a process of self-discovery and self-transformation.

Realize there are opportunities out there once you have the skills, but put in your part of the hard work today, while in school.

By hard work, I mean deep and sustained work for a long period of time – not studying just before the test to get a passing grade or even A grade, but continuous effort to get better at your tradecraft.

B Grade in a tough course is far superior to an A grade is an easy course.

Study abroad, colleges essentially gives you an opportunity to learn how to learn!

Make the best use of that opportunity; be it the USA or another country.

There are pros and cons to every country and with the USA, it comes in the form of

  • Potential Visa Denials
  • H1B Visa Lottery (Random Selection)
  • Work Authorization Denials
  • Long wait times for Green Card for Indian born citizens

If you are getting on board with the U.S. higher education, your life comes as a package of problems, solutions, and life experiences.

I have known students who have skipped the USA and went to other countries due to uncertainties, others have come here and decided to move-on to Canada and other countries and others decided to establish their career and continue to stay here in the USA.

The choice boils down to what you want in your life.

What advice are you giving prospective students in your circle of friends?

Next: The New American Dream and Who Else Wants to be Part of It?


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  1. Came here on F1 in 2016. Got Assistantship, finished two Masters (Non-IT). Did a summer internship and got a job offer. Started working on OPT. Met love of my life who is a USC, and we just got engaged. This article just made me depressed although I have been so lucky. I’d say just stay positive and don’t worry about future.

    1. Life in the USA for F1 & H1B folks is should be viewed or compared in phases and managing the expectations. So far what you described sounds like you are having the time of your life and I hope that continues.
      Folks typically run into instances described here if things don’t go their way. In your case, that may come when you want to switch jobs but GC process would make you think about it. You may get a high paying job in a different place, but after marriage, can your wife get the same n the same city or can she work from home? For some families, things work out smoothly and they are happy with the life they have and job. But, for others who want to start a company, it may not be an easy journey. What I have described here true to every word and it happens to more people than you think.

    2. Just head to Twitter and search for #s386 and you will see what I’m talking about. That’s the bill about removing the country cap for green card process.

      1. Its all about perspective, and how you find optimism in every stage of life. I never waned to stay anyway but one can only plan.

        P.s. I am not from India and not planning for EB route, so S386 do not effect me.

  2. Without a secured scholarship or financial help if someone goes to US with a hope to earn money while studying is none but a foolish.

  3. Are we speaking about average and below average people. There are so many with great success stories. Study well, plan well, research your options, discuss with seniors. Get good internships, let your employed seniors refer you. Nothing can go wrong. Be positive.

  4. Couple of things:

    1. Grammatical erors: I don’t want to be that guy, but please proof read your articles
    2. You make some excellent points about working hard, getting out of your comfort zone, and being able to persevere through tough times. And they are all very valid points that I teach my students every chance I get. But, keep in mind that a 20 year uncertainty (projected to be 150 years soon) where you aren’t sure about investing in a home, or buying an expensive car, or in some cases marrying/having kids is something you can just “push through”. There are some systemic changes that happened since 2016 which actively punish the hard-working students.

    My advice as someone who survived the F1, and OPT hustle, and now stuck in the viscous cycle we call the H1B, you can find wiser investment options for your money than education in the USA.

  5. I did my undergrad from State University and am currently working towards a master’s … Am visiting my family in India but what you expect out of your degree is not in the terms of returns as to finishing a degree and getting a job in campus interview like in India … That’s something that happens maybe in Business school but I would suggest everyone to look into summer internship … I have been in the states for past 6+ years but my major is Biomechanics and Exercise physiology and I am in a very niche field where there are no Indians from India I work in performance coaching end of the spectrum where hardly any Americans make it big but the idea is to accrued as much experience you can from your internship make a solid resume and network yourself to get a job. Given it can be hard and sometimes seem very bleak …. It comes down to how much you love doing what you chose.. and if you plan on doing it to make money you won’t make it all.

  6. Life is not a cake walk Brother! There are hurdles in this universe that everyone should go through…!!!
    All it matters at the last is what you want and how your gonna get it.

  7. That’s exactly what my son would have to say
    and which he often does. The other side of the fence is always green so I guess one should analyze the pros n cons if one is trying to take a leap that high.

    1. And after one comes here, they will feel depressed until you get the GC because no one told them so and here I’m telling what’s the reality. And the reality is always depressing!

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