By Jennifer Kumar, Cross Cultural Coach
Entering the world of life coaching, I am intrigued and engulfed in Joyce Slayton Mitchell’s “The Indian Guide to American Colleges.” This book opens up the option of studying abroad to America to a wider Indian audience. As the economy of India grows, so do the parents and students options of where to study abroad. This book is a great place to start in the process of choosing ‘the right college’.
A Changing Mindset
The Indian economy is one of the fastest growing economies, because of that; people have more purchasing power than before. Indians of current generations also view and handle money much differently than their parents because of having more disposable income and easier access to loans. In the past while the majority of Indian students arrived in America on full scholarship or assistantships to complete graduate and PhD studies, more recently, Indian students are coming in much larger numbers for undergraduate education. Often undergraduate education for international students has much less scope for financial aid, assistantships and other forms of financial aid as graduate studies. Because of this, many students from India are taking student loans, just like American students. Sometimes their parents back home take out these phenomenonal amounts of money, sometimes a relative in America helps out or a combination of financial arrangements are made. As the approach to money changes, and the feeling of purchasing using one’s own money increases, more Indian students may want to come to America for a wider range of careers, maybe falling out of the typical subjects of the past.
This guidebook which is also a self-help, motivational educational and career coaching manual appears, in my mind, to redefine how Indian parents and children view coming to study in America. Experience with my Indian friends has taught me that coming to America meant coming only for careers that could create an upwardly mobile status with corresponding financial rewards, like engineering, medicine, computer science and maybe, more recently, business. It was rare to find an Indian student in art and humanities subjects, even of the Indians who grew up in America! Things are changing, and while [immigrant Indian] parents worldwide still crave their children to have a better life, and get educated and work in high-paying, good status job; parents are also realizing that status and good pay can come from other career paths as well. I think parents may also be disillusioned they could not try their hand at a career of their true passion and enjoyment, and with the right coaching; maybe their children can find happiness, fortune and fame (status) in any career of their choice. This guide seems to point parents and Indian abroad-bound students to this conclusion.
College as a Social Arena
The social aspect of the book is another refreshing point of mention. Many of the students I know who have come to U.S. from India over the years based their choice on a few main criteria: financial aid, status of college (though sometimes status of being in US was enough), and a good, strong program in their academic area. Little thought, if any, I assessed went into considering a college for social and community reasons. Academics and further, a good career were the reasons to come to America. If social aspects were available that were enjoyable, that may be an added bonus. However, Ms. Mitchell, in her book, offers a new view point- placing a bit of stress on assessing social aspects of the college one would choose.
Some of these factors may include (not limited to):
· Demographics of student population (percentage of students based on nationality, race and religion).
· Do most students live on or off campus?
· Is it in an urban, suburban or rural setting?
· How important is religion and religious activities to students (especially if it is a faith-based college)?
· What do a majority of the students do for fun?
· Organized college sports and what they are.
· Outdoors sports (hiking, biking, camping, and mountain climbing).
· Do students have the most fun on-campus or off-campus? Do they stay local or travel on weekends?
· Are there fraternities and sororities?
· What are the kinds of on-campus clubs, activities or social events
· Based on the geography of the college, students prefer different outdoor sports
(rock climbing, mountain climbing, kayaking, skiing, and others).
When reading this, I was a bit jealous this was written for ‘Indian students’. This is a wealth of information I wish, as an American-born student, I had access to while applying for college in my own country! Some of the facts Ms. Mitchell had bought out in the book helped me learn new things about my own country and the diversity of the higher educational system I did not realize before. A few of these new, intriguing facts were:
· Not all colleges have football teams!
· In the South, students may “dress up” for football games!
· Some colleges have the ‘honor system’. In this system, students schedule and proctor their own exams!
· Some co-ed colleges still have girls-only dorms (or as known in India, “ladies hostels”) with strict rules.
“Getting into an American college and truly enjoying the time and money you spend here is a mixture of work and play.” is one of the themes of this book. This theme is highlighted through every detailed step of the admission process outlined in this wonderful book. While many foreigners come to India ‘to find themselves,’ I am sure many thousands more Indians who go through the admissions and academic life in America also find themselves in America in ways they may not have experienced had they stayed back in India to study! In America academics is not all about studying. If you or a person in your life is planning to study in America, regardless of country of origin, find this book, read it from cover to cover, and apply the information. It is bound to create a wonderful pathway to success.
Purchase this book at Hay House, India
Testimonial of a Successful Client
10 Areas of Your Life To Assess Before Moving Abroad to Work, Study or Live
How To Choose the Right Path in Studying or Living Abroad (Questioning how much cultural change can you handle?)
On The Move: How have you absorbed Culture Shock?
Thank you to the Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency, India, for the opportunity to read and review this book. See Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency's website, and find the Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency on Facebook. Image of book cover used with permission.
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This book review was written by Jennifer Kumar, expat and cross-cultural coach at Authentic Journeys. Are you looking for a mentor or coach for your child as he or she decides and prepares for a transition for college life? I am happy to help as a bridge to help support your child from high school to college, and in moving from home to college. There are many social, academic and cultural adaptations that may need to happen to make college a successful venture. I am happy to meet with you to discuss and sort out your experiences in person and be an accountability partner, via Skype or phone. Contact me at email@example.com. Thank you.
Updated April 2011