When is it a good time to go abroad for further studies? Is it good to pursue an undergraduate degree or better to study at the master’s level directly? Parents and students wanting to study abroad are mostly anxious about these kind of questions. The answer, while straightforward, has interesting nuances that need to be accounted for. We shall explore them in some detail as under:
Finances: Often, the most important consideration, several students prefer a master’s over an undergraduate course when thinking of overseas education purely from a financial perspective. A four-year programme at an undergraduate level can cost double of a two-year programme at a master’s level. On the other hand, MS can also offer rich opportunities for paid TAship (Teaching Assistant) and RAship (Research Assistant) along with other financial aid packages. No wonder graduate admission applications outnumber undergrad admission applications by a factor of 3:1. (Please note that we are not talking about MBA programmes here).
There are a few caveats though. Many great universities like MIT, Harvard, and a few more offer need-blind scholarships to all its students which means financing up to 100 per cent of your tuition is possible, and in fact, over 90 per cent of students there do receive some kind of financial aid. Other good universities also allow you to reduce your expenses to the tune of 40-50 per cent through various aid mechanisms and need-based scholarships. Often the successful recipients of financial aid are persistent individuals who are able to convincingly demonstrate their financial needs through the first semester/year of their education. Once inside, usually, you are able to find your way through.
Anxiety: Mostly driven by over-concerned parents, many students choose to forego options to study at an undergraduate level despite wanting to do so. If you feel that your child will pull off then you should go ahead with undergraduate.
Other options: You need to compare your options with various other domestic opportunities that you are able to generate. A lot of students, for instance, compare going abroad for studies against possible admissions at IITs or medicine, or top-notch colleges of national universities or local domestic private, etc. In general, it seems that options are numerous and more competitive at the undergraduate level as compared to the master’s.
Job options: Truth be told, India is the fastest-growing large economy in the world. These days as many as 70-80 per cent of graduates come back home after studying at top universities not because they did not get jobs there. Nonetheless, in the country (outside your home base) where you study, your employability is many notches higher if you are an undergraduate student as well.
As long as students for UG have clarity in their career goals, a certain level of maturity, and openness to handle the complexity and embrace cultural change then only one should think of pursuing undergraduate studies. However, the final decision is unique to you and should only be specific to your situation.
It doesn’t matter if you go for an undergraduate or postgraduate programme, please make a point that you gun for the top institutes and extend the list to the top 50 institutes and not beyond. Remember that you would be spending a huge amount of money so why not focus on quality education.
— Authored by Abhishek Singhal, Co-Founder of UnivAdmitHelp