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View Full Version : Indian students turned down by Indian schools use American Ivy Leagues as backup plan



Hedley LaMarr
14th October 11, 11:56 PM
Moulshri Mohan was an excellent student at one of the top private high schools in New Delhi. When she applied to colleges, she received scholarship offers of $20,000 from Dartmouth and $15,000 from Smith. Her pile of acceptance letters would have made any ambitious teenager smile: Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Duke, Wesleyan, Barnard and the University of Virginia.
But because of her 93.5 percent cumulative score on her final high school examinations, which are the sole criteria for admission to most colleges here, Ms. Mohan was rejected by the top colleges at Delhi University, better known as D.U., her family’s first choice and one of India (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/india/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s top schools.
“Daughter now enrolled at Dartmouth!” her mother, Madhavi Chandra, wrote, updating her Facebook page. “Strange swings this admission season has shown us. Can’t get into DU, can make it to the Ivies.”
Ms. Mohan, 18, is now one of a surging number of Indian students attending American colleges and universities, as competition in India has grown formidable, even for the best students. With about half of India’s 1.2 billion people under the age of 25, and with the ranks of the middle class swelling, the country’s handful of highly selective universities are overwhelmed.
This summer, Delhi University issued cutoff scores at its top colleges that reached a near-impossible 100 percent in some cases. The Indian Institutes of Technology, which are spread across the country, have an acceptance rate of less than 2 percent — and that is only from a pool of roughly 500,000 who qualify to take the entrance exam, a feat that requires two years of specialized coaching after school.
“The problem is clear,” said Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing education in India, who studied law at Harvard. “There is a demand and supply issue. You don’t have enough quality institutions, and there are enough quality young people who want to go to only quality institutions.”
American universities and colleges have been more than happy to pick up the slack. Faced with shrinking returns from endowment funds, a decline in the number of high school graduates in the United States and growing economic hardship among American families, they have stepped up their efforts to woo Indian students thousands of miles away.
Representatives from many of the Ivy League institutions have begun making trips to India to recruit students and explore partnerships with Indian schools. Some have set up offices in India, partly aimed at attracting a wider base of students. The State Department held a United States-India higher education summit meeting on Thursday at Georgetown University to promote the partnership between the countries.
Indians are now the second-largest foreign student population in America, after the Chinese, with almost 105,000 students in the United States in the 2009-10 academic year, the last for which comprehensive figures were available. Student visa applications from India increased 20 percent in the past year, according to the American Embassy here.
Although a majority of Indian students in the United States are graduate students, undergraduate enrollment has grown by more than 20 percent in the past few years. And while wealthy Indian families have been sending their children to the best American schools for years, the idea is beginning to spread to middle-class families, for whom Delhi University has historically been the best option.
American universities have now become “safety schools” for increasingly stressed and traumatized Indian students and parents, who complain that one fateful event — the final high school examination — can make or break a teenager’s future career.
This admissions season, students exchanged exam horror stories. One knew a boy who was sick with typhoid but could not reschedule. “I know a girl who saw the physics paper and she fainted,” said Nikita Sachdeva, her eyes widening.
Ms. Sachdeva, 19, graduated from Delhi Public School in 2010, with a 94.5 percent exam score, one point shy of the cutoff to study economics at St. Stephen’s, one of the top colleges at Delhi University. She decided to take a year off and work as an intern at a nonprofit group affiliated with the World Health Organization, while applying to American universities.
But for some students, it is not merely the competition that drives them to apply to study in the United States. It is also the greater intellectual freedom of an American liberal arts education.
India’s educational system is rigid, locking students into an area of study and affording them little opportunity to take courses outside their major beyond the 11th grade.
Only a few courses of study are considered lucrative career paths. Economics, commerce, engineering and medicine have a certain cachet, while English, history and languages are less well regarded. Often students who cannot afford to study abroad end up in less competitive courses, with a contraction of career possibilities.
“If somebody majors in English here, it’s like, ‘O.K., she’ll get married,’ ” said Ms. Sachdeva, who is attending the University of Chicago this fall and is planning to major in economics with a minor in creative writing.
Other students, finding entrance to their dream school in India impossible, have made similar choices. Siddhant Puri had wanted to study computer engineering at one of the Indian Institutes of Technology since he was a child. But after a month of coaching in the 11th grade, he decided it was not for him. Instead, he became the vice president of his high school class and played soccer, and he now plans to study German literature and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.
Such students have provided a welcome and much needed boon to American universities.
“We’re accepting an increasing number of students, and they’re excellent,” said Matthew Gutmann, the vice president for international affairs at Brown University, which plans to open an office in New Delhi partly dedicated to recruiting students. Undergraduate applications from India have grown from 86 in 2008 to more than 300 for this academic year at Brown.
“India’s a really big country; it therefore has a really big middle class,” said Allan Goodman, the president of the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit organization based in New York. “They value education so much so they have been saving for education, and they’re willing to invest in education. And our prices are very high.”
The financial strain is considerable. Some middle-class salaries in India are below the poverty line in the West. The difference in tuition between top American and Indian universities is staggering. Tuition at Dartmouth is $41,736 a year, not including room and board, while most of the colleges of Delhi University cost about $150 to $500 per year.
The emotional sacrifice of letting a teenager travel across an ocean is no less acute for some parents. Dr. Chandra spent the days before her daughter’s departure in a near panic. But she has accepted the idea that there is no college in India quite suitable for a young woman like her daughter, who wants to study psychology and who spent the past few months putting the finishing touches on a documentary she is making — on the short shrift the humanities receive in the Indian educational system.
“In the end, I’m glad it happened,” Dr. Chandra said. “She’s been an excellent student, and she’s not used to settling for second best.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world/asia/squeezed-out-in-india-students-turn-to-united-states.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world/asia/squeezed-out-in-india-students-turn-to-united-states.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all)
Welcome to America, where we won't just send our jobs to your country, we will give your children money to study in our schools so they are better prepared for the jobs we send you. This way your country can spend more money on important things, like devaluing your currency, infrastructure spending, or subsidizing industry.

That being said, for the most part Indian students are far more amiable and friendly than their Chinese counterparts. Chinese students have a tendency to be rigid and travel in packs while driving KIAs. I never understood the KIAs.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully these students are receiving a sufficient amount of brainwashing so they can go Manchurian candidate when they go home. If not we are really wasting a golden opportunity.

HappyOldGuy
15th October 11, 12:09 AM
It's a two edged sword. Our university system lets us steal many of the brightest students from around the world. They come here for school and they stay. So in the long run it's good for america. In fact it's probably the only reason we are still on top in many fields. It's not necessarily good for all americans.

Cullion
15th October 11, 05:48 AM
I expect wealthy Americans will be sending their children to Asia to be educated a generation or two from now. I think people like the investor Jim Rogers, moving to Singapore and insisting his daughter learns to speak mandarin are the vanguard.

Lebell
15th October 11, 08:23 AM
it's crucial for the west to take in hordes of asians as foreign exchange students, this way you promote your own country and create goodwill amongst the leaders of tomorrow of the rising asian nations.

only idiots think isolationism is a good thing.
globalisation wont go away, adapt.

HappyOldGuy
15th October 11, 11:35 AM
I expect wealthy Americans will be sending their children to Asia to be educated a generation or two from now. I think people like the investor Jim Rogers, moving to Singapore and insisting his daughter learns to speak mandarin are the vanguard.

I think that the market of rich westerners who want to move to dictatorships is not that deep. Chinas political liabilities are going to hobble it over time as other countries step up and outcompete it in cost sensitive manufacturing jobs.

Political change could of course change the picture some, but democracy would make china less competitive.

Spade: The Real Snake
15th October 11, 11:42 AM
so they can return home and begin a prosperous career as an Amazon.com call center CSR trying to justify, to me, why another blu-ray I ordered using PRIME wasn't here in two days

Cullion
15th October 11, 11:46 AM
I think that the market of rich westerners who want to move to dictatorships is not that deep.

Places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and the larger, more cosmopolitan, mainland Chinese cities don't feel dictatorial to the brits I know who've lived in them. They just feel crowded, a bit polluted, but full of money making opportunities and pretty young Asian women who are interested in a little 'foreign exchange'. They're going to get cleaner, but they're going to stay economically dynamic relative to the west.

India, South Korea and Japan aren't dictatorships either.



Chinas political liabilities are going to hobble it over time as other countries step up and outcompete it in cost sensitive manufacturing jobs.

Political change could of course change the picture some, but democracy would make china less competitive.

I think you overestimate how politically sensitive most business people are. You're also forgetting that the populations of these countries will have picked up a long list of things that are wrong with the American system, just as you have about theirs.

Ultimately it's a question of who has the nicest car, the best schools for their children, a full belly, access to a good hospital to take care of things when stuff goes wrong, and the most hope for their family's future prosperity. Most just people don't care about abstract forms of political freedom very much.

HappyOldGuy
15th October 11, 12:01 PM
They don't matter until the boot comes down. Which it will. China is executing corrupt officials and business leaders like it is going out of style. I don't see many rich americans who want to play business where death is the price of backing the wrong political horse.

Think Martha Stewart versus

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-23/china-executes-14-billionaires-in-8-years-culture-news-reports.html

And again. China is no longer the goto destination for cheap labor. It is not going to be able to sustain it's economic growth at current levels, and I don't think it can hold together without that.

Japan has worse economic problems than we do. South Korea has good growth, but nothing spectacular. India has a different set of problems. It can deal with them, but it is going to have to pay the democratic price while it does.

Robot Jesus
15th October 11, 12:09 PM
I expect wealthy Americans will be sending their children to Asia to be educated a generation or two from now. I think people like the investor Jim Rogers, moving to Singapore and insisting his daughter learns to speak mandarin are the vanguard.

I foresee demographic problems stemming from the one child policy short circuiting the Chinese economy in the coming generations; no reason they can't come out of it all the stronger, but replace one or two with three or four in your statement. I also foresee the coming of a great star goat that will break America's reliance on the corn crop, so take this with a grain of salt; assuming the star goat doesn't eat that as well.

Cullion
15th October 11, 02:26 PM
They don't matter until the boot comes down. Which it will. China is executing corrupt officials and business leaders like it is going out of style.

They won't be executing Brits and Americans.



I don't see many rich americans who want to play business where death is the price of backing the wrong political horse.

It won't be the price for Americans.



And again. China is no longer the goto destination for cheap labor. It is not going to be able to sustain it's economic growth at current levels, and I don't think it can hold together without that.

China, and more broadly, Asian, success isn't just about cheap labour. Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong aren't about cheap labour. It's about producing more than you consume and reinvesting the surplus. Something we stopped doing a couple of generations ago.

It's about them understanding the lessons of John Camperthwaite better than the culture that produced him now does.



Japan has worse economic problems than we do.

It does now it's irradiated Tokyo and the Northern half of the country, but before that it was skimming along in a prolonged first-world doldrum after a smaller credit collapse than America and Europe are now experiencing.. but Americans and Brits don't have the same savings rate to cushion them.



South Korea has good growth, but nothing spectacular. India has a different set of problems. It can deal with them, but it is going to have to pay the democratic price while it does.

I think you overestimate the American economy's long-term prospects.

bob
15th October 11, 07:17 PM
They won't be executing Brits and Americans.



Maybe not executing. There's an Australian mining exec currently serving a decade or so in a Chinese prison on corruption charges. Quite possibly guilty but coincidentally was arrested a few weeks after his company rejected a Chinese govt owned company's bid to double their stake in the Oz miner.

HappyOldGuy
15th October 11, 10:56 PM
Maybe not executing. There's an Australian mining exec currently serving a decade or so in a Chinese prison on corruption charges. Quite possibly guilty but coincidentally was arrested a few weeks after his company rejected a Chinese govt owned company's bid to double their stake in the Oz miner.

I have no doubt that all of these folks are guilty. But given the structure of the chinese economy, it's not really possible not to be. Which is why the ones who get arrested are always political.