So this article is in continuity to my Facebook post on the MS in US Fall 2017 group. Just to brief you readers, I am Hrishikesh, an Industrial engineering aspirant for Fall 2017 and my application has been accepted by 10 different universities out of the 11 I applied to. I am going to elaborate the process and the journey that finally assisted me to make the final decision and the same can be used by any student applying for different programs around the world.
Out of all the admits I received, the main dilemma was in finalizing one out of Rochester Institute of Technology (which has offered me 100% tuition fee waiver), Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech University. The factors that I evaluated were:
Curriculum & courses
Current job scenario
For checking the rankings, I used the following websites for evaluation: USNews, Startclass and Niche. As per the USNews website, the current rank of Texas A&M is 13 and Virginia Tech is 6 in the graduate course of Industrial Systems & Engineering. RIT is unranked in this field since the USNews ranks are based on the results of PHD pass-outs of the respective universities, and Rochester Institute of technology has just recently rolled out its first batch of PHD graduates. Thus, being unsure of the actual credibility of the rankings, I consulted multiple alumni and current grad students of the respective universities using LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora and Whatsapp groups.
RIT v/s Virginia Tech — Guidance from an Industrial engineering professor at V.Tech
The curriculum and course evaluation is something that I hadn’t done much before applying for these universities and I cannot emphasize enough on doing this for taking your final University selection decision. After thorough evaluation of Graduate courses of TAMU, I realized that the course is inclined towards Operations research and Supply chain; something that I am not planning to forge my career into. Thus, all the rankings and low cost benefits it provides would not matter to me since the courses offered are not in alignment with my interests. My interests are quite varied too -Manufacturing, Production systems, (maybe statistics), lean and also renewable energy. Both V.Tech and RIT have specializations that I am looking for.
The student intake for TAMU & Virginia Tech in Industrial department is well above 100; which is quite higher as compared to RIT -where the intake for MS in IE was just 13 last year. Another thing to note is that 10 out of these 13 were fully funded showcasing the immense funding this department receives from University as well as Industries. Thus, personal attention, guidance and timely help and is possible in a university like RIT which might not be that easy in the other two colleges. Adding to this, the lower intake will give me ample opportunities for Graduate Research Assistant-ships at RIT which is scarcely available in TAMU and V.Tech Masters programs, as per my conversations with the current students.
The tuition fees for RIT, TAMU and V.Tech are 52,000$, 34,000$ and 54,000$ respectively although my entire tuition fee has been waived for RIT as I mentioned earlier. The living expenses for the above three for two years are 13,000$, 10,000$ and 16,000$ approximately. Thus, Virginia is definitely the costliest out of all three universities.
Given the reputation of TAMU and Virginia, it is pretty obvious that the companies do attend the career fairs to provide employment. The thing I was curious about was whether Rochester Institute of Technology conducts successful career fairs. Various companies hire Industrial engineers from RIT and the outcome of engineering graduates has been displayed on the official website as shown in the image below:
Not many colleges are able to speak and showcase their graduate student outcomes as confidently as RIT
The location is also somewhat a crucial factor while hunting for jobs. Rochester being a city in New York State has good employment opportunities and Texas too has the benefit of oil industries in the near vicinity.
Blacksburg is not a good place to hunt for jobs as per my chat with an IE grad from Virginia Tech
The current job scenario is quite tight in the States — if it is due to the recent Trump’ H1B proposals or a hint of economic collapse (recession), is unknown at this moment of time. International students and graduates are finding it a bit more difficult to crack the co-ops, internships or jobs. The economy has only been flourishing since 8 years which usually melts down after 5 years. I realize prediction is not something I should rely on while making the decision, although a safe bet seems like the wiser choice. Additionally, I am planning to forge my career as an entrepreneur after few years of experience in the industry, thus the money saved by joining RIT will come in handy later on.
After all the research and evaluation of opinions from experienced people, I am banking on the individual potential not as an overly confident guy but rather as a grounded individual, who has patiently been preparing for the upcoming career. One thing I learnt for sure — COMMUNICATION SOLVES PROBLEMS.