Why going to the U.S for an undergrad makes sense for some people

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While in High school, whenever I expressed to my parents that I wanted to apply to the U.S for college, they’d laugh it off. Relatives too said “UNDERGRAD ke liye bahar jaane ka fayeda kya hai?” (What’s the point of going abroad for undergrad?)

There were specific reasons why I was stubborn about wanting to study abroad for my undergrad only and didn’t care if I got the permission to study abroad for my masters. As I met someone like minded at my internship, it turned out, that I was not the only one with this adamancy.

  1. I saw value in undergrad studies abroad because there is something unique that the U.S education system offers that no college in India does/did- the ability to major as well as minor in something, and not even just that, but the ability to even pick a major of your choice, unlike the regressive institutions here. If you’re the kind of student who is interested in more than one subject and wants to study a range of disciplines, going to a DU college is like suicide. It is also horrible if you aren’t sure what it is in the first place you wanted to study seriously. (Read why here) Now the argument that “you can do all of that in your masters” does not hold, because one can not do interdisciplinary majors and pick minors in their post graduate studies, for by then, your degree has to be in a specific field. You can’t really take different classes and explore yourself academically during your masters as you can while pursuing your undergrad degree. Undergrad studies is the only and perhaps the last time a student can freely explore his/her academic interests and the discipline that is “perfect” for them.
  2. During one’s undergraduate applications, their co-curricular achievements, if not more valued than their academic achievements, are at least equally valued in the application. For someone who has participated in a a lot of activities, won competitions and been involved in a lot of stuff, their achievements would have a place where they are valued- in their U.S application. While applying to DU and other colleges, these achievements would go completely waste. The counter argument could be that they could be put to use while applying for masters abroad, but again, the applications for a masters program values co-curricular achievements hardly or much lesser than in undergrad admissions because its a masters degree which is specific in its field. They highly value academic achievements by this point.
  3. For those who aren’t good at math (stereotyping but that’s about 70% of the humanities kids), its harder to apply for post grad than for undergrad for two reasons. One is that the GRE (the mandatory standardized test for post grad admissions) is much tougher than the SAT (the standardized test for undergrad admissions), and the other is that the value given to standardized tests in one’s application is higher during the post grad admissions than in the undergrad admissions. This puts you in a soup because now the test is much more tough and it matters much more than it previously did.

P.S- Even though I didn’t apply to the U.S, I am in a new liberal arts college in India- Ashoka University, which offers all varieties of majors and even minors, so I am not really suffering. This post has been written to justify a high schooler’s desire to study abroad for undergrad specifically, and not for his/her masters, as is traditionally more common in India.

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