Should Indian Students Still Come to Study in the USA? [2019 Edition]


I started feeling happy for the kids and their families who decided to stay back in India than to face the same fate as many international students here in the USA.

That was the statement by Karthik (an F1 student). And I wanted to know why did he say that.

That leads to an exciting discussion via instant messenger. Here’s what the Karthik had to say about the current scenario in the USA.

Here’s the edited conversation for clarity (transferring from chat to a readable article).

The number of international students hired by the universities and on-campus opportunities does not even up at all.

We (international students) initially come here with a dream of studying hard and making a future, but most of the students end up begging people for part-time jobs.

The education provided to graduate students at the Master’s degree level, for the most part, is pretty easy. But most of the students are not performing great just because of the stress that is on them to support their livelihood.

And there is uncertainty over the job prospect after someone’s graduation; I am pretty sure you know how the market changes its structure from time to time.

Especially when someone has a massive sum of the loan, it puts that person in heavy loads of stress with no certainty in his career or life, unlike other countries where you don’t have restrictions on each and everything you do.

The USA has too many restrictions that force international students to go in the wrong direction and lose focus and forget their primary purpose here (Higher Education).

Until this point, I was listening to what Karthik had to say.

Then I was curious to know what did he mean by “Restrictions are forcing students’ to go in the wrong directions.”

Then, he continued.

Here is just an example of someone I know.

He was a brilliant student back home in India.

His GPA was pretty average. But his analytical skills were terrific.

During his Master’s Degree, he felt that whatever he was doing was useless (he did not think he was learning anything new).

And concluded that he could make more money by just working a part-time job. Which he eventually might have done (earning money). But I am pretty sure; he did not plan on doing when he got a visa to study in the USA.

The universities admit hundreds of students to make more money out of them, the students these days tend to concentrate more on money and not their studies.

Then I replied – “This happens in every school.” And here’s a detailed version of my comment.

The day after students’ land on their college campus, they start looking for an apartment, a place to stay. Once that is taken care of, students who did not have assistantship or scholarship, start looking for part-time jobs. You can see, every new student on campus is walking with a resume to land a part-time job.

He summed up as follows:

We (international students) initially come here with a dream of studying hard and making a future, but most of the students end up begging people for part-time jobs.

So, I wanted to know who to blame for this situation?

The law has been pretty clear ever since the F1 program started. But people did manage to find ways around it. And so did the universities, who took advantage of it.

They make deals with some consultants in India who drive herds of the international student into their universities.

And Karthik asked me, “Where do you think things have gone wrong?”

For which I responded as follows:

“We become frugal and maybe greedy. Things take time. Especially, earning takes time. Education should be first. There’s no point in taking easy just to get a high GPA.”

To be fair, I did slack for the first two semesters as well when I did my Masters.

4.0 GPA after easy courses looked good on the paper, and that did nothing to expand my knowledge boundary. I have written about it here.

And if courses offered by a school is not challenging, then why not make use of the high GPA and apply for transfer to a better school? But when your college education takes second fiddle to money from your first day on the camps, it’s trouble for you in the long run.

All this information about student struggle and what it takes to survive in the USA is public knowledge (more on that later)!

Students know this. They are very well aware of this situation.

They know about OPT, STEM OPT, H1B Visa lottery, and years of wait time for Green Card. Why do are they willing to take up such a steep and uncertain path?

And Karthik continued.

Yeah, true that is, but what could someone do with so much unemployment back home in India.

All this information should be out there for the next generations who are planning to go abroad for the future.

But to be honest, not all people who come for higher education can concentrate on studies. It is a considerable sum, which is impossible to pay off if you work back home (after returning to India).

So, I advise most of my juniors to try as hard as they can and get some work experience wherever they can and then go abroad.

To be honest master’s degree means nothing!

Most employers look for work experience than a Masters’s degree.

Except if you are from a renowned university with excellent research work and projects.

Tha’s where the conversation ended!

Here’s the biggest takeaway for you.

Are you looking for shortcuts in your life or used to doing easy things?

Then the moment you hit a roadblock, you are going to take the path of least resistance and look for the next shiny object.

Why do students spend hours uploading a resume at 100’s of employer’s sites, but very few spend time on networking?

Applying from the comfort of your home – Easy and no barrier to do the work.

Building Network – It’s really hard. Some feel dreaded and some feel shame about asking for help. Some get really anxious. You have to meet strangers, overcome your anxiety for many things just to build one contact and you need more!

Read: Here’s Why Networking is Damn Difficult

Things get difficult every step of your way, especially when you are studying abroad.

Do you know Murphy’s Law (watch the Interstellar movie).

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

And, when things go wrong, how do you react?

That determines how you will feel.

It’s not something or someone to blame. It’s your acceptance or non-acceptance that determines your emotions and how you move forward.

Things that are worth having in life don’t come easy.

You should be willing to fight through the challenges.

Life throws several problems at you and more you solve it, better you will be prepared to face life’s more significant problems.

You have to become a Pro.

Make use of the opportunity from your Study Abroad experience to go from an Amateur to a Pro.

You are fascinated with what life in the USA has to offer, then be ready for other challenges that come as part of the package of living, studying and working in the USA.

The same goes for any other country or choice you make in your life.

Becoming a Pro equals having the maturity to see things from other points of view and the ability to accept the outcomes without negative emotions.

Let me tell you.

It’s not easy to accept negative outcomes.

That’s part of your learning process as you take this higher education and transformational journey of self-discovery.

Most students think studying abroad is all about money, but it’s a process of self-discovery and self-transformation.

Realize there are opportunities out there once you have the skills, but put in your part of the hard work today, while in school.

By hard work, I mean deep and sustained work for a long period of time – not studying just before the test to get a passing grade or even A grade, but continuous effort to get better at your tradecraft.

B Grade in a tough course is far superior to an A grade is an easy course.

Study abroad, colleges essentially gives you an opportunity to learn how to learn!

Make the best use of that opportunity; be it the USA or another country.

There are pros and cons to every country and with the USA, it comes in the form of

  • Potential Visa Denials
  • H1B Visa Lottery (Random Selection)
  • Work Authorization Denials
  • Long wait times for Green Card for Indian born citizens

If you are getting on board with the U.S. higher education, your life comes as a package of problems, solutions, and life experiences.

I have known students who have skipped the USA and went to other countries due to uncertainties, others have come here and decided to move-on to Canada and other countries and others decided to establish their career and continue to stay here in the USA.

The choice boils down to what you want in your life.

What advice are you giving prospective students in your circle of friends?

Next: The New American Dream and Who Else Wants to be Part of It?