For the last few weeks, we have been discussing EducationUSA’s ‘Step 5: Prepare for Your Departure’ for master’s programs in the United States. So far, we have talked about the travel preparations and port-of-entry procedures.
In today’s column, we understand what a student should expect upon their arrival at the US university campus.
Before leaving India, students should arrange temporary accommodation for the first few days of their stay. Students may contact the International Student Services Office at their institution in the United States to check if the university provides such accommodation. In addition, they may contact the Indian or South Asian Student Association (if one exists) at their university to enquire about the possibility of an Indian student/family hosting them during their initial days in the city.
The International Student Services Office and student associations at the campus may also be able to provide information about availability of an airport pick up option for new students arriving on campus. Alternatively, students may look for a hotel/inn in the city and book a room for the first few days. They may also use the airport taxi or shuttle service.
US institutions will usually inform students about the reporting procedures upon a student’s arrival at the campus. It is important that students look out for such emails from their university/college. In the first few days of their arrival, students will be required to attend the international student orientation and a department orientation programme. The university/department generally shares information about these programs in advance, and students should attend these sessions. While planning their travel, students should keep the dates of these orientation programmes in consideration.
In addition, upon arrival and during the orientation programme, students should understand and enquire about following procedures:
– Where and how to open a bank account
– How to commute to campus (availability of bus service/bus passes for students)
– Best phone providers in the area
– Places to buy groceries and other daily need items, including Indian groceries
– Location of prominent places on campus: library, classrooms, labs, bookstore, etc.
– How to register for courses
During the initial days of arrival, students may also experience jet lag. So, they may want to set aside time for short naps and mild exercise and follow a sleeping and eating schedule as per the new time zone to combat the jet lag.
Finally, and very importantly, students should note that in the current pandemic situation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all passengers arriving in the United States from a foreign country to get tested for Covid-19. Students should check the concurrent guidelines related to Covid-19 testing on https://travel.state.gov/ and www.cbp.gov websites before they board their flight from India. While the United States government does not have any requirement for arriving passengers to be vaccinated for Covid-19, it is important that students check with their institution in the United States about these prerequisites, if any.
— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the U.S. – India Educational Foundation based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad)
Q. I am interested in pursuing a master’s program in the field of public policy and administration in the United States. I came across MPP and MPA degrees while exploring institutions. What is the difference between the two?
— Rameshwar Rao
A. At the graduate level, students may pursue a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) or Masters in Public Policy (MPP) in the United States if they are interested in the field of public policy and administration.
In an MPA program, students develop their understanding of policy implementation, project execution, and program management. MPA course curriculum includes subjects such as human resources, budgeting and financial processes, information systems, policy and program formulation, implementation and evaluation, ethics, decision making and problem solving, political and legal institutions and processes, economic and social institutions, and organisation and management concepts and behavior.
On the other hand, the MPP program, with its emphasis on research and analysis, focuses on data analysis, analyzing and evaluating policy problems, and developing solutions to policy issues. So, the course curriculum for an MPP program includes subjects such as microeconomics, public finance, statistics and advanced data analysis, qualitative research, politics of policy process, policy analysis, public management, urban policy, and program evaluation.
Q. My daughter is applying next year for undergraduate program in the United States. From whom should she take the letters of recommendations?
A. In general, higher education institutions in the United States require letters from one school counselor and one or two school teachers for undergraduate applications. Some institutions also accept additional recommendations from coaches or other recommenders. In cases where a school counselor is not available, students may ask either the principal or another teacher nominated by the principal to write the letter. Recommendations should not be written by direct family members.
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