Jain Temple

Hot Spots

India Links
Call Home


Art & Culture
Book Shelf



About Us

Contact Us
About Us

Article by Mohan Babu


Working one’s way towards a degree in the US

An increasing number of Indians in the United States, especially those on H1 visas, are realising the value of pursuing an American degree along with their professional careers, points out Mohan Babu

Last Friday, a few Indian friends and I got to wear a gown, tassel and cap and attend the graduation ceremony at the University of Colorado along with a thousand young men and women. The ceremony was the usual mix of extravagance and glitz Americans love to celebrate every occasion in style. As in many universities across the US, there were a handful of Indians graduating this year. However, what really stood out was the fact that the dozen or so Indians receiving the diplomas were not full-time students here to do their MS or MBA but working professionals and wives of working professionals.

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) saw more than a dozen Indians graduating this spring. This is striking because UCCS is not a campus that is popular among Indians coming directly to enroll in courses like MS etc. Colorado Springs is a nondescript hi-tech town with the majority of Indians here there are over 500 Indians working for either Worldcomm, Intel, LSI Logic, Oracle, Compaq or one of the other half-dozen hi-tech companies. Universities across the US are seeing an increasing number of Indians, especially those not on F1 (student) visas graduating.
There was a time when the only way one could hope to get a coveted American degree was to go to IIT, sit through GMAT/GRE, and get a high enough score with the hope that some university would be generous enough to grant a scholarship or teaching assistantship. If that didn’t work, one had to scrape the bottom of the barrel and get hold of the family pot of savings, buy an air ticket and fly down to the US for the all-American educational experience. One also had to stand in line at the US embassy or consulate with the hopes that the F1 (student) visa would be approved by the stern immigration official behind the counter. This has been eloquently portrayed in a number of novels including Anurag Mathur’s `Inscrutable Americans’, and still remains as one of the most popular routes for those wishing to pursue an academic career.

Techies realise that bagging a job in the US, and getting the company to sponsor one’s H1, air ticket and life in the US is a good way to come to the US. On landing here, after the usual grind of getting familiarised with new projects, way of living and dealing with things, many realise that it is a good excuse if one ever needed an excuse to get some good education under one’s belt. Many techies are increasingly going to school. (Here, in America, universities, or colleges are called ‘schools’). A number of American employers are also willing to pitch in at least a part of the tuition fees this is akin to having a cake and eating it too. Incidentally, my employer paid all the tuition fees towards my MBA courses. All I had to do was to hit the books or head to the class after a day’s work. Of course, there was a catch, I had to get an ‘A’ grade in a course in order to get my tuition fees reimbursed.

Indians in the US, especially those on H1 visas are increasingly realising that a few years of attending evening/weekend classes, instead of hanging out at the mall or bowling alley is time well spent. Of course life can become a bit hectic with the deadlines of projects and exams rolling one after the other.

A number of H1 visa holders are getting married to young, ambitious and educated women and are bringing them along to the US. Before the young women reading this column get up in arms, I must point out that over 95 per cent of Indians coming to the US on H1 are male. I must also add that I know a female colleague of mine who sponsored a H4 (dependant) visa for her spouse. The young wives are unable to find jobs that will sponsor their H1 work visas, a topic I covered a few weeks ago.

any of them don’t want to stay at home and so opt to do some courses at nearby universities and schools. Those with a technical background tend to work their way towards an MS degree, and many others prefer to do courses in non-technical subjects. Attending classes at the university also gives them an opportunity to get used to communicating with Americans, an invaluable skill to acquire.

Indians, especially those from a middle class background tend to lay a lot of emphasis on education, a habit that not only helps us survive in changing times but one that induces us to seek knowledge anywhere we can. As per the latest census (2000) estimates, there are over 1.7 million people of Indian origin living in the US. As a community, we tend to stress on the importance of education and make use of every opportunity to broaden our horizons. We tend to believe that any higher education is only going to add value to one’s life and career. For those Indians sitting on the fence, undecided whether to pursue a long-term career in the US or to spend a few years here, seek a financial target and go back to India, a degree from an American university is definitely going to open more doors.

Standing in line to receive my diploma, more than being proud of my little achievement, I was thrilled to be partaking the all-American experience along with my fellow Indians, who, like myself, had come to find new career opportunities in the US and in the process had worked their way towards a degree.





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
  • Sponsored Advert

    Advert: Visitor's Travel Insurance

    Click for free online Quotes


    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


    GaramChai® 1999-2005