FPJ-ED: Here's how the US classrooms have best diversity

One reason the United States is a favored destination for higher education is the way that universities help students to create the right academic path to match their academic and professional goals

Dr Aditi LeleUpdated: Friday, February 25, 2022, 09:50 PM IST
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The United States is one of the top educational destinations for many Indian students who wish to pursue higher studies abroad, whether for a bachelor’s, master's, or doctoral degree program. Perhaps you wonder what a U.S. education has to offer to so many students worldwide? One reason the United States is a favored destination for higher education is the way that universities help students to create the right academic path to match their academic and professional goals. They do this through financial aid offerings, multidisciplinary approaches to study, state-of-the-art facilities, support services, and internship opportunities. Studying in the United States can be a gateway to international exposure due to the global recognition of a U.S. degree, professional and personal growth opportunities, and networks that last a lifetime. The educational system offers strong academic and extracurricular experiences for students, enabling them to become leaders in their fields.

There are more than 4000 universities and colleges in the United States. These institutions offer education in lateral thinking, global communications, and skill-building to help prepare students for the jobs of the future. Starting at the undergraduate level, students are given the opportunity to attend general classes from various disciplines in the sciences, humanities, and business before they choose a major.

U.S. education allows me to choose courses based on my interest and choice. As a graduate student of Computer Science, I also have access to excellent lab facilities and research resources that have enabled me to pursue my research interests.

—Vidhi Mody

This flexibility helps students train in transferable skills for their careers. Universities and colleges encourage faculty to include a variety of instruction methods that accommodate students’ learning styles so they can maximize their learning experience. Critical thinking, an independent work ethic, and access to research facilities are highly important at U.S. universities. In the classrooms, students can lead discussions, question the professors, and debate topics respectfully while learning to understand different perspectives.

An integral aspect of studying in the United States is the hands-on training that complements in-classroom learning. Program curricula are designed to incorporate time to pursue internships so students can implement skills learned in the classroom in the real world. International students can also apply to work for a year after graduation in their respective fields. Many students who pursue higher education in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) can apply to extend this internship period by an additional two years. Some undergraduate programs have built-in internships as part of the curriculum so that students are industry-ready by the time they graduate.

U.S. universities are known for efficient career development centers that offer students resources to apply for internships and that help students to prepare for interviews, draft American-style resumes, and attend job fairs. Dedicated staff at these centers also organize events to introduce prospective employers to interns. Universities and colleges in the United States also provide opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom through participation in student organizations in which interpersonal skills, communication skills, and qualities such as teamwork are nurtured.

Universities in the United States value the diversity that international students bring to their campuses, and they understand the concerns of students living away from their home countries. To this end, they provide excellent services to students to ease their transitions. Diversity is celebrated on campuses through international student clubs that organize events like food festivals and cultural gatherings. For example, Indian student organizations at U.S. universities are well known for hosting events that showcase India’s rich culture.

I love how my course assignments; focus is not just on conceptual understanding and learning, but on its implementation in the real world. Universities here follow a strict check on plagiarism which has really helped me to think critically and, more importantly, independently.

—Vrushti Mody

University and college spaces are welcoming to students of various ethnicities, sexual orientations, races, and genders. Many universities have separate centers or offices for students of different sexual orientations to provide support services. It is also important to note that U.S. universities value diversity not only among students, but also among faculty. International representation and a culturally sensitive approach further promote diversity.

Other services U.S. universities provide to international students to help make student life stress-free include health services and on-campus living facilities. Universities and colleges in the United States are known for excellent health services offered to students, and many universities have on-campus health centers. These health centers often provide physical, mental and emotional health support to international students.

The expansive geography of the United States offers students the chance to explore outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, visiting national parks, museums, and more. Recreational centers offer a variety of sporting options to students. Many U.S. universities are even known to have student cricket clubs begun by Indian students. You will find a variety of sports and facilities available to all students, be it yoga, Zumba, or basketball. Students are able to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle while studying on campus. American football is always a favorite of international students, and the experience of being on a vast football field is a unique experience for many international students.

In addition to the worldwide recognition of a degree from a U.S. university, the relationships with peers and faculty become lifelong bonds and make a U.S. education a life-changing experience.

For help with the application process, please get in touch with an EducationUSA center near you. EducationUSA is the official source for U.S. higher education supported by the U.S. government, and an adviser will be happy to guide you through the application process to U.S. universities. You can reach out to an EducationUSA center for information on the application process, researching universities that fit your needs, and understanding financial aspects of a U.S education. For more information, please visit the EducationUSA website (https://educationusa.state.gov), and for individual questions, please write to mumbai@educationusa.org

(Aditi Lele is an EducationUSA adviser at the United States - India Educational Foundation. Aditi has three years’ experience guiding students interested in pursuing higher studies in the U.S. Originally from Jalgaon, she has a M.Sc. in Biodiversity from the Savitribai Phule Pune University and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Arkansas.)

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