Exceptions to Step 3

By Rajkamal Rao 

Go back to Step 3: Choose Your Target States by Better Understanding the US Economy


  1. Remember our point from Step 1: Prepare Better. Define Your Brand & Decide What You Want:  The brand name/reputation of the school matters.  [Please don't confuse brand name with rankings].  If you graduate from a nationally or internationally renowned institution, you can almost fully ignore Step 3. 

    Consider the state of North Carolina.  It has an unemployment rate of 9.2% and so is excluded from our consideration.  But if you are lucky enough to get in to Duke University or the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, you will be fine.  Companies from around the country seek graduates from these reputed schools - so state economic metrics almost don't matter.  

    However, does this exception extend to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC?  No.  Most people outside the state would probably have never heard of this university.  So all of our Step 3 rules would apply and this particular school should be rejected from consideration.

  2. We grant that you probably have not yet gone to Step 5: Review School Selection Factors, Including Financial Considerations.  In it, you will see in Step 5b that school location and the local economy matter a lot.

    Consider the state of Virginia.  This is a rich state (Step 3c) and has a decent unemployment rate of 5.5% from Step 3a.  But it fails our GDP growth rate test in Step 3b falling into the fourth quintile.

    If you have admissions from Virginia Tech or the University of Virginia, these are nationally reputed schools - and so Exception 1 above would apply. 

    But what if you had admissions from George Mason University in the Northern Virginia suburbs?  The truth is that Northern Virginia is probably one of the richest regions in the country.  It is close to Washington and every industry that has any business with the Federal Government has offices in the area.  The economy is so vibrant that the GDP growth metric doesn't apply to this region at all.  So, we would vote to include GMU as a candidate school.

  3. Also, in Step 5: Review School Selection Factors, Including Financial Considerations, if you know of a school that has an excellent career opportunity center and/or alumni network that has a record of placing international students into internships and jobs, you must consider it even if the state fails the economic indicators of Step 3.    

One important note:  we understand that economic conditions can - and indeed, will - change, so our conclusions in 2013 could be well different in 2014.   The target states could change.  It is therefore a good idea to keep up to date with developments in the country you desire to go to.  But don't worry, we will have you well covered.  As always, we are glad you are here.

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