Study Abroad – Options and Choices

Ramesh Sridhar, a final year student of Hotel Management in Chennai during the internship at a five star hotel in Mumbai got interested in specializing in mixing drinks at the bar. He wanted to pursue a specialized course in this area and started the search for a right course after completing the hotel management program. His search took him to overseas education consultant(s), discussions with his teachers & friends and the obvious repository of information - the internet. Ramesh zeroed in on two options – one in Australia and the other in Canada. The reasons for the coming to these options were mainly

  • 1. Job opportunities after the program,
  • 2. the investment required
  • 3. and more importantly the course content itself.

The options to study abroad in recent times has become easier with availability of information but the challenging part is the choosing the program to pursue. I have a very simple formula to suggest in the decision making which is simply illustrated below:

The intersection of these circles determines the success of the individual. Lack of the intersection is what causes disorientation and opportunities for success.

For example, if a student interest is in becoming a pilot, he must have the aptitude for subjects like Physics and Mathematics. If the student is a commerce student after his 10th grade, this interest cannot be fulfilled due to lack of aptitude.

In a similar vein, if there is no significant scope for recruitment of engine drivers as trains move into being driverless trainers, despite aptitude and interest, this is not an option one should exercise.

I am sure there is now an appreciation for the need for all the three important dimensions to be critical in the decision making for studying abroad. Let us break this down to understand this better

  • 1. I believe the most important dimension that one must consider when deciding to pursue education overseas is the interest in the field of study. Typically, more applicable to students who wish to pursue graduate or doctoral studies. There are good indicators that helps you in this, namely scores in foundation courses and additional work you have done in the area of interest (like publication of articles in the area, certificate program, project in the area of interest or course undertaken outside of regular study).

  • 2. The second most important is aptitude for the program. A good check for this dimension would include checking basic requisites demanded for the graduate or doctoral. The aptitude includes checking academic scores required in the undergraduate program and also scores in the qualifying test (GRE/GMAT and TOEFL etc.)

  • 3. The third critical dimension is the scope that program offers in terms of opportunities to go on to doctoral studies or jobs that would be available. The scope must ensure that you are not acquiring skills or knowledge that would be redundant after completion of the program. It is important to be aware of how the future of the industry or skills is going by the time the program ends. Scope also refers to the geography in which you chose to study. A good study on the country, industry-wise growth, opportunities in terms of overseas students etc. are essential before any decision is made. For example studying automobile design, the options in pursuing a program in Italy, Germany or UK are reasonably good options for an assignment in a design firm or automobile manufacturing company.

  • The key elements like in Ramesh’s case are relevant in all cases of students who wish to pursue higher education. The course content should provide you with skills that are relevant to industry/consulting assignments. The investment is also important to consider as some of these programs are really expensive with or without financial support. A good consultant can help you go through the process and course correct if needed. Two important suggestions as I end this article – one start early and second get help if needed from a professional.