However, I knew that management was really not my forte. At the same time, I also felt that my knowledge lacked a certain depth, which I would never be able to meet unless I went in for higher studies. Some people advised to work for a while before I went for higher education, but I knew that once I got into the corporate jungle, grad school would be mostly forgotten along the way. So if I had to pursue a Masters, it had to be done immediately.
Limiting oneself to institutes in India is not a wise idea, especially looking at the current state of research in the institutes here as compared to universities in the USA. There is a marked difference in the research quality in the two countries. Also, the system in the USA is very flexible, unlike India, and one gets a much wider range of subjects to choose from, notwithstanding ones subject of specialization during B.E. I was interested in working in Bio-Electronics, a field that has just started coming up in India, and where it still requires some courses in Biotechnology or related fields. This limited my options in India, but the USA universities were more open.
I would recommend applying to USA than to Europe, only from the financial perspective, as the tuition in the USA is lower and the possibility of securing aid is significantly higher than in Europe. The application process to universities is in itself a very time consuming and tedious process, but gives you a great insight to what is in store when you go to these universities. The university websites are very exhaustive in content, and one can get to know almost everything that he wants from here. Also, most professors are very interactive, and assist in clearing all ones doubts.
Of course, the GRE and TOEFL also require some preparation, but having gone through the process, I believe that their importance is a little overrated. Granted, they form an important part of your application packet, but in terms of priority, I found, in my experience that they are not rated as high as ones grades in B.E. and ones research experience. But at the same time, attention to detail is a must, throughout the application process, and at least in the US, the early bird gets the worm, so one should try and get through the entire process as early as possible.
The experience of studying abroad is another thing altogether. Nothing can prepare one for this world. It is a lot of work, unlike undergrad, but the quantum of knowledge that one is able to get here is unsurpassed. Also, even the coursework done here lays a lot of stress on practical application, and therefore involves a lot of project work, both alone and in groups. This gives one a much clearer understanding of the concepts discussed in class and prepares one for an industry environment that is round the corner. One works with the best brains from around the world, and this in itself is a great motivating factor to stretch one’s own capabilities to the hilt.
As far as living abroad goes, most universities now have a considerable number of Indians, and lots of small clubs or societies have cropped up to make new students feel at home in a new environment. But beyond that, interacting with people from different countries and different backgrounds, gives one a global consciousness, and one learns a lot more about people and cultures around the world, which transforms one’s own personality in more ways that he can realize. This probably is the greatest thing that I’ll take away from here, more than a good job or research experience.
This article is not meant to be to tell you that the world here is beautiful and that everyone should come here, but to make you think, and understand what you really want to do with your career. It is merely my effort to make people realize that following the rat race blindly may not be the best option, and one should exercise his choice after a lot of deliberation. And then, I apologize for the cliché, ‘The sky is the limit!’ "