US Dream is not dead, it is maturing

The recent events, especially since the start of Trump’s Presidency have cast heavy doubts in the minds of the Indian aspirants. Further, the talk of changes in the H1B visa regime is equally confusing and frightening for them

By Author   |   Sumanth Palepu   |   Published: 17th Apr 2017   12:12 am Updated: 17th Apr 2017   12:22 am
US Dream

For any student planning to pursue education abroad, US has always been the Mecca.
However, the recent events, especially since the start of Trump’s Presidency have cast heavy doubts in the minds of the Indian aspirants. Further, the talk of changes in the H-1B visa regime is equally confusing and frightening for them.

How are these changes going to impact you – a student? Let’s look at this objectively and understand the next step.

History has shown that whenever economy goes down, each nation starts looking inwards. Trump’s US is not alone in taking advantage of this. In France, Le Penn; in Austria, Norbert Hofer; in Holland, Geert Wilders are just a few names whose star is on an ascent as the market is descending. These events, which, again historically proven, are short lived, should not influence a big decision which would influence your whole life. Let’s understand the opportunities and challenges here.

Traditionally, Indian youngsters going to US have fallen in three categories. First are the professionals. By working in companies like TCS, one would, after getting a few years of experience, shift base to the US for an assignment, through the company itself. Unfortunately, this category is now bound to shrink. With US focused on moving jobs to their own soil by tightening the H1B visa program, the same companies would now be forced to recruit locally.

However, ‘locals’ does not just mean, only the US citizens – this would also translate into a good opportunity for Indians already abroad. This demand for local talent would also push the salaries higher, giving better returns to the Indians (and others) there.

Second category are those students who, unfortunately, would be okay going to the US by joining any of the many only-for-money, willing to give spot-admit, no-GRE-required, schools; do any degree which could promise them some job; and once in US, be busier working than studying, and post their useless-but-legal-degree, get a job through consultants. Not that this would give these students a great life style (for during the initial years, they only get commission from the consultants), but in later years, they could aspire to get there with struggle.

This gate would surely close. All actions seem to be saying loud and clear – No more is US interested in ordinary students – only the extra-ordinary ones!

Third category are those students – who take the same path as the second for going to the US – doing MS or some higher degree – but differing in one critical matter – only from a good college. These students gain admission into a good US school by performing well in graduation in India, by building a good profile – which includes doing good projects, by performing decently well in GRE and TOEFL / IELTS, and by compiling a good application – they seek both knowledge and lifestyle. These students would continue going to US, and be
welcomed by leading schools as well as industry, and would win themselves a good job.

Because of the increased demand for professional talent there on the US soil, and reduced off-shoring and professionals transfer (thus supply constraints), these students would also benefit from the resultant increase in salaries.

Another big opportunity would be for those going to good schools in the areas of Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and the likes (often called the “core sectors” of engineering). The net result of President Trump’s “Make in US” policy would be increased opportunities in these core sectors thus benefiting these students.

Thus, your dream to study in some of the world’s best schools based out of US need not be dead. You just need to be better planned.

Issues to be kept in mind when planning to study in US

• Do research about the school where you are applying and getting the final admit from. Do not get excited about any and every school that visits your city, and offers spot admissions.

• Do remember, the better the school, the better your chances of getting a F1 visa. Also, try not applying for visa very close to your probable travel dates.

• Traditionally, students from core areas (non-IT areas) have shifted to IT for MS. In case you intend to do that, see that you are doing a couple of online courses to make a strong case for your candidature. Otherwise, you would get admit only in not-so-good schools, thus spoiling your plan.

• The war is not over once you land in the US. You have multiple battles to still fight. Try performing well in the school. See if you can get a TA or RA position – not just for the money it brings, but also for the resumevalue it brings. These could make a difference between you getting into – or being rejected by, a leading company.

• Racism is unfortunately a reality. It happens even in India. When in US (or for that matter anywhere else), be sensitive about the hosts’ culture.