Recent news reports show that Indian students have started choosing Australia and Canada as study abroad destinations rather than the US.
We believe there are two things that could have sparked this trend. One is the seemingly hostile political climate towards immigrants under President Trump’s administration. The second is the soaring costs of studying abroad.
However, both these are actually beneficial trends for Indian students who want to study in the US. In this article, we will talk about:
- Increasing Odds of Admission
- Better Scholarship Opportunities
- Changes in H1B Visa Regulations
- Expected Change of Government
These are pertinent factors that greatly impact your decision to study abroad. So, let’s take a look at each one in further detail.
1. Increasing Odds of Admission
As per reports, the number of Indian students applying to universities in the US has reduced.
The decline in the number of international applications has been sharp enough to spur US B-Schools into taking action to boost the numbers. In fact, even the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took note and started offering STEM MBAs via US B-Schools to help attract international applications.
Now, here’s why this should matter to you:
Remember that the number of available seats remains the same irrespective of the volume of applications received. This means that a rising volume of applications will reduce the acceptance rate and therefore, your odds of getting in to study abroad.
At the same time, though, a decline in applications will raise acceptance rates across the board. By extension, this means your odds of getting an admit rise when the volume of applications falls.
Additionally, remember that you will only be competing against other Indian applicants.
This means that your chances of getting in are not affected by the number of applicants from other countries. So, a fall in the number of Indian applicants raises your odds exponentially.
As such, your chances of getting into an American university are higher than they’ve ever been.
2. Better Scholarship Opportunities
You’re probably quite familiar with the price war that’s been on between e-commerce companies around the world.
But did you know that the same has been going on between American universities?
People have missed this phenomenon among news articles about rising tuition costs across the US. To be fair, it is quite true that tuition costs and other fees for higher education programs are rising.
However, international students are spending less on getting advanced degrees today than they did a decade ago.
How’s this possible, you ask?
It’s simple. Look at university expenditures on scholarships instead of just the rise in tuition and other fees.
Universities across the US have been using scholarships to lure the best candidates towards themselves since before 2014. This has had a two-fold result: firstly, the absolute prices of higher education have risen over time; secondly, it has become cheaper for international students to study abroad in the US.
Our point here is simple:
The number of international applications is declining, so the competition for these abundantly available scholarships is lower than ever, too. This means you have excellent chances of getting great scholarships from US universities if you apply now.
3. Changes in H1B Visa Regulations
Statistics show that most students applying to universities in the US want to stay and work there, as well.
Even though the current US government in 2019 is known to be anti-immigration, the US desperately needs qualified people to take up the jobs the economy is expected to generate in the near future.
Therefore, the US needs to attract international students to stay and work in the US after completing their education. So, there’s a proposed reform in Visa regulations aimed to attract young professionals.
H1-B visas are given out based on two lottery rounds, one is exclusively for those holding advanced degrees from American Universities and the other one is a general round for all.
The proposed reforms look to maximize your chances of getting an H1-B visa if you hold an advanced degree from an American university. To understand the reform, we’ll have to compare it with the current system under which these visas are granted.
Here’s how the current H1-B visa system works:
The first lottery round is only for specialists holding advanced degrees from US universities. The second round is a general one, where everyone who wants the visa can apply for it. Only 20,000 visas are handed out in the first round and 65,000 in the second one.
Here’s what the reform plans to do:
In the new system, the rounds get reversed, meaning that you have to apply through the general round first irrespective of your educational qualifications. If you don’t get a visa through this, then you can apply through the specialist round.
Statistically, this increases your odds of getting the visa by close to 15%.
For more details on how this reform works, read our article on everything you need to know about US visas.
Now, let’s talk about Trump!
4. Expected Change of Government
If you’re planning to apply to the US, you’re definitely aware of the socio-political climate. Or, at least, you should be – after all, Visa and immigration regulations are among the first things to get changed when the government changes!
Every year, the US sees a massive influx of immigrants looking for a piece of the “American Dream”.
As a result, immigrants and immigration reform are a huge part of public discourse and are highly vulnerable to political whims. For example, under President Obama, the American immigration policy was very immigrant-friendly but it became hostile nearly as soon as President Trump took over.
Immigration is likely to play a pivotal role in the upcoming election of 2020.
For those of you who are still wondering, here’s how this affects you:
Assuming that there is a regime change and President Trump does not get re-elected, there will be changes to the policies and regulations that determine how easily you can get a US visa.
This matters right now because if you’re taking your GMAT and applying in 2019-20, you are likely to graduate around 2021-22. This means that the next government will be the one determining whether you get an H1-B Visa or not.
In essence, if you’re applying now, then the current government’s policies won’t be responsible for your visa.
So, consider this if your main concern is that you may not get to live and work in the US after graduation.
To conclude, we find that 2019 is the best time for Indian students to study in the US because the competition is lower than ever, granting each Indian applicant greater access to scholarships.
The proposed changes in the process of granting H1-B Visas as well as the upcoming elections, both look promising for Indian students with advanced degrees from American universities.
We recommend that you start building your profile for your applications right away!
In conversation with Rijul, who cracked the ISB-YLP Programme!
Rijul Jain, a student of BITS, Goa spoke to us regarding how he made it to ISB-YLP last year. Rijul will be graduating this year and has successfully secured himself an admit to the batch that will be joining ISB in 2014. Continue reading to learn what he did right to join the elite group of students who shall graduate from ISB in 2015!
Congratulations on securing an admit to the ISB-YLP program, Rijul!
Thanks a lot!
Could you please tell us how you got to know about ISB-YLP? Also, what was your motivation to apply?
I came to know about the YLP program through an information session organized by ISB at my university campus. I knew about Harvard’s 2+2 Program and recognized that this was a first for an Indian School.
My primary motivation to apply was the reputation of the school- ISB is an institute of such high repute that I believe one does not need any further motivation to apply. After all, it is a risk-free, win-win situation.
If you make it, great- you’ve ensured yourself an admit in advance. If you don’t, it is still okay- you can always apply again, later.
That’s true! So, tell us a little more about your journey?
Well, the first stage primarily consisted of a video resume for 90 seconds and an essay. The deadline was around the last week of March. We don’t really know the particulars of the selection criterion but I suppose people with good academics, a fairly decent enough profile got through round-1.
Okay, so how did you prepare for round-2 once the shortlist was declared?
We needed to take the GMAT and write 3 essays on the topics provided for round-2. I prepared for around two weeks for the GMAT and scored a 730 on it.
However, this is not an approach for the GMAT that I would recommend as such-I had to take it within a short period of time because I was leaving to INSEAD Business School, France for an internship. My college, BITS, has this “Practice School Program” which makes it compulsory for every final year student to undergo a six month internship at a university or at an organization.I believe my internship played a key role in my admission to the YLP.
So, after taking the GMAT, I concentrated on the essays.I also believe the essays play a very crucial role to the whole process. Not just for round-2, but, also at the final interview.
Oh yes, how did you work on your essays?
I believe the essays, which are primarily regarding one’s strengths and weaknesses, require a decent amount of introspection and brainstorming. For a couple of days, I thought about what I have done in my college, what my strengths/weaknesses were- basically all my experiences and the takeaways from them.
Based on all this, I created a pretty big list. After doing this activity, I looked at the essay questions and mixed and matched my experiences to suit the nature of the essay question. It is not about very good, flowery English or an extensive vocabulary but more about keeping it simple and clear.
The next thing I did was, to get my essays reviewed by friends with prior experience in writing similar stuff. That really helped me a lot. They helped bring fresh perspective into the essays. This is important because we always have a certain amount of bias towards what we write, so asking different people to review it will bring viewpoints that you might have not considered.
Ah, that is true- how long did you take to complete your essays?
There was no fixed time as such. Different people have different approaches to essay writing. Some think a lot and write a few lines a day. Some do the essays in one shot. I belonged to the latter category. Like I said earlier, I thought about them for a couple of days and wrote them in one go.
However, the re-work I did, based on the feedback I got, took a lot more time. That is because I had to give them time to read the essays and get back to me with their feedback. And I got a LOT of feedback from my reviewers. An important thing that we should remember here is that feedback should be taken as constructive criticism. Overtly worrying about negative feedback is not going to help at all.
I understand that ISB requires applicants to submit two evaluations – who did you get them from?
Typically students applying to the YLP will not have industry exposure as such, so evaluations are usually done by respective college faculty. Both my recommenders were faculty from my college. They are given a form with 3-4 subjective questions and some questions wherein they are asked to rate the applicant on a pre-defined scale.
Interesting! So, what tips would you give aspirants, especially regarding writing their essays?
Well, for starters I’d say this- Do NOT bluff on your essays. Also, do NOT exaggerate either. Remember that the people reading your essays are veterans and can easily see through these things. By doing so, you will be showing yourself in poor light because you are trying to portray something bigger than what it really was and the admission team is quite adept at picking such things.
There is a very good book called “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays”- I’d recommend this book to everyone applying to round-2. The book shows us the way to write good essays- basically, writing your story within the word-limit, showcasing your weakness as a point of strength. I believe this book is important because no one at this level would have had the experience of writing such essays.
Another thing I’d highly recommend is to get 3 or 4 people to review your essays. The feedback they give you will probably help the most in fine-tuning your essays. In fact, I would even suggest that two or three rounds of similar review will help get the essays in the best possible shape.
Alright, how was round-3 of the admissions process?
Round-3 comprised of an interview and a case study analysis. I was in Paris at that time and we were given a link which had the case-study.
The case study was simple enough, required basic common sense to analyse. Applicants were given a situation and posed a question. Within an hour, we had to respond to the question. We could use numerical data to substantiate our claim or even stick to using just the language to do that. The end objective was to prove your point- how you went about doing that was left entirely up to you.
Oh okay, was your interview scheduled for the same day?
No, I had the interview a day later. Those who had gone to ISB’s campus for round-3 had both the case-study and the interview on the same day.
So, tell us about your interview with the ISB panellists? Could you also help our readers by offering your two cents about the interview process?
There were 3 people in the panel. Since none of us had any work-experience, all the questions that MBA panel usually ask interviewees were not applicable to us.
Almost all the questions were centered on what we had written in our essays. Many people fall into the trap of assuming that starting a club in college, being one of its main office-bearers alone showcases one in good light.
However, in the interview process, the main thing really is – to be able to tell them that you took the initiative to do something, the learning you got from its success/failure, how it changed your attitude and how you would react in a similar situation in the future.
More than anything else, taking the initiative to do something is given due merit.
If you can convince them, that you identified a lacunae in the existing system and you took the initiative to rectify that, then, I believe, you are in a great position to convert!
Those are some great tips! Thank you for talking to us Rijul! And congratulations, once again!
If you’d like some help with framing your ISB YLP application essays, check out our essay analysis!
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