In this post, we will discuss how MS exactly helps you and why it is affordable and within your reach. The content is taken from the MS Book: Smart Engineer’s Complete Guide to MS in USA.
MS Journey 101:
Success is not easy, especially when you don’t know what are the different choices that you have. I know how frustrating Indian education was, not knowing what to do, not knowing who to ask. So, I am glad that you are here and you are making an effort to understand your career choices. You are already ahead than where I was!
Amazing career growth that I could not have built in India
Coming from a middle class family and a mediocre college in Central India, I was admitted to MS in CS program at UIUC. That is like the 4th best program in the world. From there, I was offered an internship at Wall Street for which only 7 people were selected all across the world and I was actually the only girl in there. After getting one of the highest packages ($100,000+) during those days, I decided to get into startups and was admitted to the MBA program at New York University which is 10th best MBA program in the world. I have lived in Manhattan, worked at Wall Street and startups. I have networked with some of the finest entrepreneurs and investors in USA. I have traveled the world and finally came to India to work on my own ventures and write. I find my life personally and professionally rewarding and I want you to enjoy yours without compromising on your dreams.
Plus, I have helped some of the students I have coached inch towards their dream life. For example, one of my first students, Supreeth, had a failed application season before he worked with me. He had a good profile but had some weaknesses. I helped him highlight his strengths, focus on the programs that were better for him and re-apply. He wanted to get into Robotics and he was able to get into one of the Top 10 programs in that field. Just a few days ago, he emailed me to inform that he will be interning at Microsoft Research Labs this summer. Now that is what I call a perfect hustle and not giving up till you reach where you want to be. This year, students I have worked with are heading to UIUC, UC San Diego, UT Austin, Columbia, Cornell, CMU and many other places.
You would say I got lucky or Supreeth got lucky or I had some advantage that you don’t. But my background will show you that I began just like you are now. And that anyone can reach the places I did. When I was in college, I also thought that US education is unaffordable but now I know how wrong I was! It is within your reach. I have devoted an entire section in the MS Book to tell you how to think about money and finances and why MS is totally affordable. But let’s quickly understand how to look at it here.
Understanding Grad School Finances
If you are concerned about finances of managing a Master’s degree education, a good way to start is to understand how long will it take you to recover your expenses. For this, we need to understand what total expenses you are likely to incur, what kind of income are you expecting after graduation and how much can you save. This is known as break even analysis and I have covered it in detail in the MS book so that you know what to expect. Doing this analysis using the tools in the book will let you feel more comfortable about the decision.
For e.g. if you are spending $77000 on your MS (tuition + living + interest on loan), getting $14000 in summer internship, paying a 12% interest rate on your loan of Rs 20L, graduating in 4 semesters and saving 40% of your post-tax salary ($84000 p.a), it will take you roughly 3.15 years to break even in worst case. If you find any assistance or on-campus job (which is very feasible and again, discussed in the book) or graduating in 3 or fewer semesters, you can break even in few months or a year.
The details of the calculations are covered in the book and you are provided with a sheet (snapshot above) that shows you exactly how long will it take to recover your investment in the Grad School. You can add variables as per your specific scenario and play with it. Lets say that the sheet tells you that it will take roughly 2 years, so after that you are earning a handsome salary in US that far exceeds the package in India at that level. If you just compare the financial benefits and kind of work exposure you are getting in US, then you will understand how much it makes sense to go for MS.
Education is not an expense but an investment in yourself
Another point is that I considered my MS fee as an investment and not an expense and if that is how you look at it, then you realize that its not the money that is sinking down the drain but you are gaining skills that make you employable, a credible degree in the resume and a great brand name to help you stand out in the competition. Imagine applying for a job with a credible international grad school degree in your resume. Who is the employer going to recruit? You with a reputed degree from US or someone with a relatively unknown degree in India?
And with a little hustle, you can manage funding. So we cover the money part pretty sincerely in the book.
But how to get to the best schools?
Once you understand that MS is within your reach, the next step is to get into the TOP schools. Believe me, you can get into better schools than you are imagining right now. One of the key application elements is the SOP and most of the applicants have a tough time understanding how to approach that first draft. But with an organized approach, you can overcome that hurdle quite easily.
We discuss more about SOP in the next post – http://wp.me/p39Fhf-oW