I work with a number of international students but the country that I have the most students from is India. So, today I wanted to talk about some of the issues facing Indian students seeking admissions to U.S. colleges.
The first issue is that facing all international students and it is understanding how higher education works in the U.S. In most other countries, college is a 3 year experience focused on studying for a particular trade or profession. Understanding how a liberal arts degree educates students in not just a particular field but in a variety of fields is sometimes difficult for Indian families to understand.
The second issue often facing Indian students is that because there are so many Indian students that come to the U.S., they lose some of the advantages of being from a different country when applying for admissions. Colleges like geographic diversity and they only need so many Indian students to show diversity.
The third issue facing Indian students is that many students are interested in the same fields of study, particularly business and engineering. The result again is that there is a potential problem of looking like every other Indian applicant who wants to study engineering.
Indian students that want to study a subject other than business or engineering sometimes have an easier time with admissions because they are not like every other applicant.Each year I see more and more Indian students that are starting to look outside these two academic subjects.
Also, Indian students, like many American students, often focus on the rankings of various colleges and tend to limit themselves to the good colleges. Indian students that are willing to look outside the top 10 or 15 colleges often find that the competition is much less because these other colleges typically have many fewer Indian applicants.
Indian students do have a major advantage over many other international applicants and that is their knowledge of English. Most of the students that I work with from Indian have no problems with communicating in English and colleges are aware of that strength. This often helps at the time of admission because the students ability to communicate in English is not as much of an issue as it is with some other international students.
The final issue of course is that of paying for college and like most students, this is a major issue. Indian students do not qualify for most financial aid at colleges and those colleges that do have aid for international students are generally among the most competitive.
Some of the less competitive colleges are starting to have financial aid available to international students to increase their diversity so again, looking outside the box to find a college that is affordable is often a good idea for Indian students.
Indian students are a welcome addition at most U.S. colleges. However, careful planning must go into finding the right college which the Indian family can afford to send their student to.
Finding the right college for any student is the goal of college admissions. This is even more important when the college is half way around the world.