1. Is it worth it:
A- Well, that depends. As long as you study at a great college and do well in your batch, it is usually worth the time and money spent. The exposure, experience and education of a lifetime that you get at a good University changes the way you look at things. You are more confident in your abilities and more positive in your approach. That is a great recipe for success in entrepreneurship and job hunting. Many students find the life and culture of the host country so wonderful that they decide to seek work and live there.
2. What about the ROI:
A- This is usually the least understood question by students and counselors. Return on investment is assumed by many to be 'how much money you put in for admissions among other things divided by the average or median salary of the institute'. This calculation is wrong and misdirecting. Firstly, your investment is not just the money you spend on tuition and other things while you study, but also the effort and time you spend into learning the concepts and doing well in your class vis-a-vis other students in your batch. The later is the deciding factor as the former is more or less fixed(or similar) for all from the point of view of a recruiter. For a recruiter, your investment is what you have done after the admissions in being as good as, if not better that the rest in your batch. You returns or the salary offered by a recruiter, will be proportional to this investment.
3. How to choose a college/University:
A- This is not easy. You will need to do extensive research on online forums, discuss with the student's committee at your shortlisted colleges, see what recruiters say about it, see the city it is in and costs associated with the city, see if the city/state where the college is also has an industry that absorbs people with your skill sets, the country it is in and its visa rules, etc. More importantly, see if you can enroll in a better institute at home with the same profile and scores. The student network that you find through the alumnus at a good university goes a long way in helping you discover opportunities for growth in personal and professional life for years to come.
4. How to choose a program:
A- Follow your calling. It is usually better to take a program that you feel a certain level of harmony with and will help you improve on and refine your skills in a particular domain. Most of us do not really know which domain to choose as we are not so sure of our goals and strengths. A SWOT analysis would help there, as will a talk with a knowledgeable counselor. JAG can help you with that. It is very important that you get the right coach/mentor as early as you can to make most of your true abilities and have a clear sense of direction. Coach Ramakant Achrekar and Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar is a case study for ages.
5. University Vs Program:
A- Sometimes a student may get a call from a top univerity but not get his or her desired program to study. Sometimes a student may get a call from an average university, but get the opportunity to study his or her choice of program. Herein lies the dilemma that puts a student at the crossroads of his or her 'rest of the life'. This is a difficult choice to make, and again, we would need to do a SWOT analysis to make a well informed guess.
6. What about the money:
A- Well, thats a thing, but fortunately it is not the most important thing any more. Student loans are easier to get now than they ever were. Job opportunities and pay scales for students from premier institutes are still very good. Scholarships and financial aids are there for the right candidate.
7. I am neither an Einstein nor a Superman:
A- Institutes of global repute choose students based on a multitude of factors. Students are evaluated based on their academics, test scores, profiles, essays,etc. One does not need to be academically exceptional to get into a good institute. Since you cannot change your past, you will need to work on getting a good SAT/LSAT/GRE/GMAT score to cover for the low scores (if any) during school/college, and work on other things to make your profile stronger. Most students would find that they haven't really done any superhuman activities that would make them outshine the rest, but then it's never too late to start. Here a SWOT analysis would help to make a road map, as will a talk with a knowledgeable counselor. JAG can help you with that.
8. Why not just go for an institute that looks great on the internet and doesn't ask for so many scores:
A- Well, if you have a truck load of money and just want to live and experience culture abroad on a student's visa, then it could be a good idea. Otherwise, absolutely no. But then again, why not study a bit and go to a better institute where you will have more knowledgeable and like minded peers. You may even learn a thing or two, and who knows, you may like it too. But other than that, it is highly risky to go for an institute that does not take students without any merit criteria. You could go through a few of the links below to get a better idea what I am talking about.