It is a difficult decision to send children away at any age, and 18 does seem young to cut the umbilical cord and cast your child some thirteen thousand kilometres away. We also faced the ‘bogey’ of our children not returning back to home and country; thoughts which can cause a fair amount of heartache, the presentiment of separation causing most of us to cling and hold our children in what we think is the circle of love determined by common physical space.
Can we really control time, distance, space, people and all the other factors that constitute life?
Our children will follow their own destiny, just like we followed ours. We cannot promise our kids a stress free life, but we can inculcate the spirit of independence, and bless them with the courage and strength to face life full on.
And sometimes, to achieve this, a little separation might be necessary! Here I would like to quote Robert Frost from ‘The Road Not Taken’: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. So accepting that it is a difficult decision, this is how we reasoned out our choice of the country!
1. Its education system is fundamentally different to what is offered in India. The undergraduate programme is of 4 years, it is flexible, offering more than 900 fields of study across more than 4,000 universities.
2. The flexibility is to such an extent that one can apply to a college declaring your preferred major (subject) as undecided! In fact the most popular major in the 1st year in many colleges is ‘Undecided’. So, in simple terms, it means that in the beginning, the child is not put into the straitjacket streams of Commerce, Science or Arts.
3. The undergraduate study programme was an opportunity for our children to discover, excel in fields with a strong academic base as well as enjoy other facets of learning like Art, Music, Theatre, Sports which enhance and contribute towards a holistic development. It was also very reassuring to know that majority of US colleges have dedicated housing and dining options at the undergraduate level, and this was a big plus! Along with this, the prospect of seeking admission in hallowed portals of learning like Yale, Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Amherst, Duke, and University of California, LA, was definitely motivating; therefore, it was a thumbs up to the US.
4. Feedback from students, parents and faculty converge on a single ethos—the US undergraduate system holds the promise of an academic experience like no other.
Facts and Figures
• Indian students are the second largest group of international students in the US, representing 14 per cent of all international enrolments. (via Open Doors Report), https://www.iie.org/opendoors)
• According to Times World University Rankings, 2018, 11 out of the top 15 universities in the world are in the USA. The following pages mark the milestones on the journey towards the ‘admission letter’.
Based on our experiences and learning, the process has been broken down into small units of information for easy assimilation. Let the games begin!
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