Overseas Education: An Easy Escape Route? [Guest Post]

Posted on September 23, 2011 in Education

This is a guest post by Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball, an admissions consulting venture. He completed his MBA from the University of Cambridge on a double scholarship. He is also the author of Beyond The MBA Hype, described in the media as a book that ‘systematically and effectively demolishes the notion that an MBA is a magic wand that will change your life.’ This article is based on the book.

Competition has never been an alien concept for the Indian youth. Think about it. School admissions, college admissions, getting a job — have you ever had it easy? Every single step has been a struggle, and that’s what your brain has been conditioned into expecting. The story doesn’t end when you step into the corporate world.

Irrespective of the field that you graduate in, chances are your first job would put you in the bottom of the corporate pyramid. Then you gradually try to climb up the ladder, while the competition continues to give you company. In fact, it becomes more intense as the opportunities at the top are fewer and the (perceived) rewards are better. So you continue to compete with your colleagues for your manager’s attention, for better appraisal ratings and for the promotion. But despite running at breakneck speed for several years, the name, fame and fortune still seem like a distant dream.

Then there’s the other phenomena that’s unique to India. The pressure from family and relatives to ‘settle down’ which essentially translates to getting married, producing a line of worthy offsprings (to ensure that the competition becomes tougher for the next generation) and literally ‘settling’ into the couch with a big pot belly watching sitcoms.

Among the various escape-from-reality options that you pursue, watching Bollywood movies shot in glamorous international locales can provide more than just a temporary relief. It can provide the right dose of inspiration for many who are struggling with mundane petty issues on an everyday basis. Plus the Facebook comments and photographs of your friends, who are already relocated outside India, strengthen your desire. You start thinking that packing your bags and flying out abroad could be the easiest way to escape from the shackles that hold you back. The prospect of having a better life (read as a bigger pay-packet, a bigger house and bigger cars) starts sounding very appealing. If your employer can’t send you abroad, you start evaluating the option of going for an overseas degree. In the enthusiasm and the euphoria, rational thinking unfortunately starts taking a backseat.

In his article, You Don’t Need An MBA To Make It Big, Shashank Sinha touches upon several pitfalls to watch out for when considering domestic MBA programs. Many of the issues mentioned in his article would also be relevant for international MBA education, but the magnitude gets amplified manifold. The tuition fees can be exorbitant, job hunting can be a bigger challenge (with visa and work permit dependencies) and the overall stakes are higher. Yet, year after year, high potential candidates make the mistake of not doing enough introspection and research before jumping into the international education arena. The introspection part (looking inwards) is important as it will allow you to identify the real reasons for pursuing an international degree and view them in an objective manner. The research (looking outside) will then allow you to find the right university and the right program to meet your goals.

Have you been seriously considering an overseas education? What is YOUR primary reason for doing so? Happy to continue the discussion through the comments section.

Readers of this article can connect with the author on Facebook.