Lessons from my bad Masters experience: MS in USA

 Bad Masters experience: MS in USA

You won’t hear many Indian students who’ve gone to study abroad in USA and other countries talk about it. At least, not openly on a public forum.

That doesn’t imply that every international student has a fairy tale experience. It just means that there aren’t enough students brave enough to confess what happened to them after the celebrations subsided. You’ll occasionally read in the media about Indian students in USA sent back for intentionally doing what they weren’t supposed to do. However, that’s a minority. Many international students have to leave the U.S. after completing their MS for other reasons.

As if the trauma of their journey wasn’t painful enough, there’s also the likelihood of being judged by peers, employers, relatives and friends. Some may do it out of envy, others out of ignorance.

Either ways, it’s not fair, since some of the downsides have nothing to do with the student’s capability or potential. There are several factors beyond their control – like the state of the economy or a change in the leading recruiters’ hiring policies.

A field that was hot and cutting-edge during the MS application phase, may no longer offer the same number of opportunities by the time the course gets completed.

Along with the huge upside associated with an international Masters degree, the risks of going abroad to study have always been there. And they will continue to remain.

Rohit Mishra (name changed) was among those who ended up being scarred by his MS experience. He was still large-hearted enough to share what he went through. He hopes his experience will help other Indian (and international) students aspiring to go overseas in search of a better life and career opportunities.

 

Lessons from my bad MS degree experience in USA

By Rohit

I had a pretty bad experience after getting MS degree from the United States.

I completed my MS degree at the peak of recession, in June 2009, in a highly specialized field of semiconductor electronics from a leading university that’s well-respected in the technology domain. Getting a job in the US in the field of my choice became extremely difficult due to the recession and I wasn’t inclined towards switching to software just to get a job.

I ended worker in a semiconductor plant as a production trainee with bare minimum salary, and at the end of my term there they refused to provide visa sponsorship as the company was cost cutting, the same company shut down completely in 2011.

I left USA in 2010 January and came back to India in search of job in electronics industry. Getting a job became a nightmare as there are virtually no semiconductor technology jobs in India.

In other relevant fields, I was over qualified for entry level jobs due to having an American degree compared to others with local degree. So, I worked extremely hard for quite some time to learn other electronics technologies like VLSI design and embedded systems, which are quite popular in India.

After this I did get many job offers from several companies, but, with the same salary and job level as any other BE or Btech degree holder. All the bigger organizations had one answer – “we are looking for IITians only.”

Even though I had much broader experiences, including research with a university professor and strong technical background, I ended up working at the exact same level as someone with a Bachelors degree, making my MS degree completely useless.

 

What I should’ve known before I started my MS and what I could’ve done to alter the outcome

I wish I had known the value of having a good mentor. The one I hired, took a hefty amount of money, and yet misguided me in so many wrong ways.

My mentor never did break a sweat to work on my SOP/LORs, university selection, GRE preparation, etc. He kept asking me to take admission during winter semester (middle of school year in US) instead of fall session (Start of school year), which I did.

And it backfired badly as I didn’t know that almost all scholarships are awarded at the fall session and no scholarships remain available until winter session. Out of all the universities I applied to, most rejected me as winter sessions usually have extremely limited seats availability.

Having admissions from very few universities, I ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and all the hard work for admission to a top university went in vain. Not just that, I have been working extremely hard for the last several years just to make up for all the things that went wrong.

Had I followed my guts, instead of some half-baked mentor, my life would have turned out completely different than what it is now.

 

Lessons that may help other MS aspirants avoid the mistakes I did

– Do as much research as possible, and take inspiration and guidance from the right people, but, also trust your own instincts.

– Studying abroad is a great experience, but, even a small mistake during admissions can ruin the whole experience.

– Do not take uncalculated risks. Do not make assumptions. Consider all aspects from program rankings to scholarships to ongoing research to location before taking admissions.
 


You may like this story about an IIT graduate who dropped out of a US MBA program.
 
Image (source) for representation only


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

9 Comments

  1. Alina Dhamani says:

    You’ve made such a brave attempt to publicly accept that your decisions went wrong. It’s not really easy to share bad experiences out of fear of being judged and mocked at.
    This is going to be so helpful for the applicants aspiring to study abroad.

  2. Priya says:

    Hi, Its good that we calculate our risks, but please guide us as to what is calculated and uncalculated risks because there maybe factors we don’t even take into consideration, yes a Framework that would more or less fit majority.

  3. Vinod says:

    Respected sir,
    To pursue MS in USA what will be the approx cost in Indian rupees…
    If we get scholarship, how much we will get?

  4. Oracle says:

    what I could’ve done to alter the outcome ?

    >>> I wasn’t inclined towards switching to software just to get a job.

    Well … you should have switched to software. It’s easy and widely acceptable. By now, you would have been working in Google or Microsoft, with a Green Card to stay forever in US.

  5. ABC says:

    I somewhat agree with Oracle. On the other hand, blaming the “hired mentor” is also a bit strange given that you were an adult at the time you made the decision and also had good exposure to decision making, as your education suggests.

  6. Bhushan Ghuge says:

    Hey Rohit,this is Bhushan..I am also one of from those who is planning for MS in US..but I already heard such replies from lot of people..that’s why it’s not that much of easy to take such decisions..but credit to the guys like you,whos experiences and suggestions makes the things clear…and to share failures in front of everyone is not a normal thing..so thanks to you..

  7. Jenny L says:

    It’s my time to share my experience too. It’s a bitter one. I applied to six universities suggested by a consultancy. It’s my first experience and I really did not know how to choose a university on what basis. They didn’t ask me for my interests or if I’m interested in a cross major. They simply looked at my B.E dgree major and they decided I should do MS in EE (which is very very tough). I too thought they are experienced people and would suggest me right (which is completely wrong). I then started getting admits from February ’17 for the Fall ’17 admission. I recieved admits from 3 out of 6.

    They then charged 20k for getting I-20 from the universities (which is completely bullshit, and i did not know). And regarding the tuition fee and cost, it’ll be only in the I20 and you can’t know before that except the unreal bloated costs in their website. I then went with the better ranking University out of the 3 and paid 20k. She got the money. Then after a week she told me that the university i selected is very costly and i couldn’t afford it. Then she suggested me to apply for the cheapest one since ranking doesn’t matter (but ranking actually matters alot). I again paid a 20k. She got it.

    Then she tells me, i also have an option to select the other one since that is better in ranking than the one i selected recently. Since wanted to have the best University i could get, i again paid 20k for the 3rd one and got I20. I did not get any official recipts from the universities regarding the payment. So, it’s clear that she looted all me money. I didn’t know it till i went to America. I proceeded with the 3rd one and got my Visa too. They charged 40k for the visa process.

    I then went to USA and stayed there only for 5 days. Yes just 5 days. Because I found out the bitter truth about the MS degree in EE. You won’t be able to get a job in the EE feild unless you are extremely talented. 3.8/4.0 GPA is necessary. You can’t get this unless you work 14 hrs a day. You can’t do a part time job if you wanna get good scores. So you have to get money from home for living expenses.

    It’s also not cheap. It costs $1000 – $1200 for a month (house rent, electricity, water, food, transportation, health insurance, life insurance, other expenses). It’s approx. 70k to 1L in Indian rupees!!!!! Then it’s your tuition fee which will be covered by the bank loan, with interest running for every dime you get from the bank. Parents have to pay the interest till you graduate and get a job. The interest that your parents will have to pay will be 25-30k per month or even more based on interest rates…!!!

    Then it’s your graduation and OPT. Trust me, the OPT is very good for CS majors. For other core engineering departments (Mech, Elec, Civil, Chemical,etc..the) getting OPT is not easy as you think or as the consultancy people say…. If you didn’t get OPT within 60 days after graduation, you have to pack your bags back to India with huge loans with piled up interets, you will not be able to pay off the debts in your entire life…!!! You will be overqualified in India for most of the jobs and considered as a fresher for good paying jobs, even if you have international experience…

    And the only way you can be able to get a job is via OPT and that’s only for a few months the company grants (9 months to 15 months), but that’s not enough for you to pay off the debts… You will still have a huge loan to payback, when your parents shedding their lifetime savings and working their asses off to pay off the interests alone. Repayment of the loan is another big nightmare for you and your parents…

    After many sleepless nights and deep thought about the miserable and horrible time that me and my family will have to face if I start to do my MS in USA, I told the university that I’m no longer interested to do my MS, and that I wanted to return to India. I booked my flight to India on the 6th day and returned. I trusted my instincts. I got the real knowledge about these factors only after i met the American students and International students…

    So, guys, don’t do anything that your consultancy people say or your relatives say. Don’t think about anyone about what they will say if you come back to india from USA. They will have already hooked up stories about you for your return from USA, so don’t give your ears to them. Just do anything for your Dad and Mom. Think only of them and nothing else. If you believe you can survive in USA without student debts, you go for it. If not just don’t have second thoughts.

    Stop giving those Americans your money and return. I tell you again, you will not get the money back from the US if you choose to do majors in core Engineering branches. For Computer science majors, you are very good to go to USA. All the best for your future guys. Think not once but 10 times before you invest your hard earned money on something…

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