Planning for Higher Education????

Just to update, I am done my engineering/undergrad from Pune, India and finished my Master’s from USC, Los Angeles.

After finishing my undergrad, I worked for a software firm in India and while working, the most difficult question came to me, “Whats next???”. I was having a good job, getting money enough to survive, friends around me, living in a good city and having a family I do not have to support financially. So basically no challenge in front of me, no goals to conquer and no plans on how to lead my life. So I starting looking for a goal and a challenge. I had couple of options liking get settled means marriage or planning for a higher studies. I decided for higher studies, believing my acumen. So now the next question, “What to study?”

Again I had two options, MBA or a Masters degree. I spent some quality time figuring the answer to this question. I decided for Master’s after speaking to my parents, friends, alumni and cousins. So I gave GRE/TOEFL, applied to U.S. universities, got an admit, finished my Masters and now working with a bio-tech firm in Greater Los Angeles Area. After finishing my Masters, I retrospected all the events in my past, the decision I took and the factors affecting my decisions. I am putting my analysis so that it might be helpful for students who might find themselves in the same situation as me.

I am going to speak about doing Masters and information relating to it.

Try to answer the question before planning for Masters in U.S.

Why you want to do Masters?
a) Knowledge
b) Job

If you are honest in answering this question, believe me, half of the job is done.

Knowledge :- If this is your answer then you have a lot to do ahead. Masters is helpful to gain knowledge if you do it  from say top 5-7 universities where the acceptance ratio is low.

Job :- If this is your answer then it doesn’t matter which university you choose for your Masters.

People with knowledge as a goal should seriously think about PhD rather than a Masters. Masters program in top 5-7
universities is really good and it helps in expanding your knowledge but PhD is the best way. If the target is just to attract good companies with job offer then you are fine with any university as once you have a Masters degree, job offers will start flowing in. In the end, school name does play a role in finding a job but it isn’t everything, the student’s attitude is what helps in landing in a good job. To get up a job, do a Masters in general (computer science) with no specialization and you will have lot of offers in your hand. You don’t even have to target the best universities to do a job in Java/Web/.net/c#. Don’t spend a lot for the big names.

An analogy to help you to understand the situation better. In India, it really matters if you did your Engg/undergrad from IIT’s or NIT’s or BITS but it really doesn’t matter if you did it from any other colleges. So target the top 5-7 universities if you want to do some extra-ordinary work in your field. Like in Pune, PICT is considered to be the best college for Computer Science but believe me it isn’t. I am a PICTian and I can say that you are good if you do your Engg/Undergrad from any college in Pune. In the end, its the student that plays the vital role in landing up in a good job.

Even now, when I finished my Masters from a “good” university (USC), I can find people doing the exact same job as me and are from university which I have never heard of. So guys, don’t go for ranking, no matter which university you join, give your best and it will turn out to be a good decision.

Final advice : You are the best evaluator of your own profile. Evalute the quality of the univeristy which gives you an admit.