By Rajkamal Rao
In order to get more from this post, we hope that you have reviewed our earlier post - Indian Students' ROI on US Education is Low. As we say in it, we believe that most students make some simple mistakes which forever commit them to a future with a relatively low ROI.
So what are these mistakes?
- Most students rely heavily on professional “Education Consultants” who promise students admission to a “safe” school.
The consultant simply meets the student's only stated requirement - to enter the US, somehow - by securing admission to any school, even if the tier of the school is much lower than the student’s ability or the school is a natural mismatch.
Consultants rate themselves on their success rate - that is, how many students they have effectively placed at US schools. While this may be a great selling point for the consultant, it is often a weak metric for the student because it is the student who has to suffer the consequences of getting into an inferior school. Unfortunately, students are too proud to return to the consultant and share how poor the ROI was for them!
Students defend the practice of using consultants by saying that consultants often suggest to them a portfolio of schools - high end, medium and "safe schools". After all, this is the age-old tactic of applying to schools, so why is this wrong? If done right, there's nothing wrong with this approach. The issue rests with how the portfolio of schools is constructed. Which brings us to the second problem.
- Students and consultants place a disproportionate emphasis on college rankings - even when they are not relevant. Creating a portfolio of schools based on school rankings is sub-optimal. Students nearly always end up getting into the "safe schools" because the other schools in the bucket were heavily weighted against them to begin with. In other words, money and effort were wasted on the so called top and medium tier schools. There are other methods that can be used to select a portfolio of schools which better meets the needs of the student.
- Most students do not understand the US college admissions cycle. They are unable - or rather, unwilling - to better market themselves to the right school. They forget that they are paying top dollar for the experience and don't demand more from the school.
- We always look at schools as a stepping stone to a bright career. A school may be good in its academics but if it cannot help place students into jobs - perhaps because the employment picture in the state is weak - the school is a poor choice for the student. A lack of understanding of the US job market can potentially impact the student's ROI on education.
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