Ever since I was little, I’ve had this notion that only the smartest, most intelligent people go abroad for further studies or jobs. While that is still true for the most part, it is no lie that going to the United States of America (full form for the effect) has become - like everything else - a cattle move.
A lot of my friends- and I mean almost all when I say ‘lot’- have applied to American universities for their Masters program - and most have already gotten admits to various universities. Seriously. I can’t tell you how sick I am of hearing “ADMIT AAYA!” Why? Mainly because I am jealous. There, I said it. I am jealous. I want to go to America too! I want an easier life, a better lifestyle, live in magical cities, earn in dollars, and meet those inscrutable, crazy Americans! There, I summed up the most obvious reason for why MS in US is such an appealing option after graduation nowadays. That’s one reason. What are the others?
I did some digging, asked around a bunch of friends why they would want to spend another two years learning even more complicated computer stuff, and then spend a lifetime earning through it and these are the replies I got:
- “Arre. Karna hai toh karna hai. Bass. No reason as such.”
- “I really want to become a software developer. Like... really!”
- “Wahan ka lifestyle man. Parties and daru non-stop!”
- “Because my boyfriend/girlfriend is going there. I can’t be without him!”
(I swear the last one is also true!)
A Masters degree from an American university probably grants you a better lifestyle forever; a 100 grand job is no joke even in America. My class has some technically very brilliant people. And when they apply to these universities, it makes perfect sense to me. But when I see people who haven’t written one line of code in their four years of engineering, running around the college for recos (as it is adorably called now), I can’t help be bewildered and shout, “WHAT? Woh kyun MS kar raha hai?”
After graduation, we engineers generally go for: a) Job (again, may or may not be in your line of interest), b) MS, c) M.E/M.Tech in India, and d) MBA. If one wishes to go for the fourth, he’s barraged non-stop with “Toh char saal engineering mein kyun dala?” so much that one would think he went out and raped someone by opting for an MBA. But an MBA in India counts only if it is done from the top fifteen institutes. An MBA from some obscure, nameless college is worthless. However, like everything else in India, getting a seat in one of these colleges is disgustingly competitive. Just as competitive as getting an M.Tech seat through GATE in the IITs is (which, if I may point out, is the dull, unglamorous younger brother of an MS abroad). And most fail to get through. On the other hand, it is pretty easy to get an admission into a US college - ok, it may not be the likes of Stanford and MIT, but it is in the top fifty, right? If you have $50,000 to spend, and a $60,000 job waiting at the end of it regardless of your aptitude or interest for it, then why not? Interest, schminterest. Who cares.
I asked my friend Nimit why he was doing an MS. Now, Nimit is an EXTC student; he knows his stuff when it comes to electronics, and is smarter than most people I know. He told me, in crudely articulated sentences (that’s how sentimental he was), that he wished to make something, patent something that was a real contribution to the world. It is no doubt that Nimit is really passionate about his work, and looking at him, one understands why a Masters degree would help.
I am an Engineering student. And like million other engineering students in my country, I know how hard we work to get good scores (=70%; In Mumbai University, if you score more, you are a God), and how little our social life is. We bitch about Commerce and Arts students, call them a vella jobless bunch, lucky bastards because we think their college life is basically a joyride- college for four hours, and then come home and do whatever the hell you want. I know this view is terribly stereotyped, and is almost entirely wrong. But we can’t help it. Anyone not in the science stream enjoys more than us. Then why, OH WHY, in the world would you go and give another two years of your life to the exact thing you have found insufferable in the past four years? Because we are computer geeks. We love our programming codes. We love C++ and Java. And when there’s a bug in our code, it’ll irritate us so much that we won’t stop at nothing till Jcreator says “Process completed.” And we will always be a little narcissistic about being know-it-alls when it comes to programming. We may spend half our lives tied to our computers, but we happen to love it.
Did these lines sound like you? If yes, then go for a Masters degree. But if you’re going for an MS for any reason other than pure love for the subject, then please stop right there. After 12th is our first chance to choose our line of career, and if we manage to bungle that decision, post-grad is our chance. Don’t mess it up again.