Friday, August 3, 2012

Why do you want to go for further studies?

Alice: I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn't matter, as long as...
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.

It is very important that you are aware of your truest intentions for embarking on a higher education program, because this knowledge will make the process of finding your ideal university/country/scholarship much more easier. If you don't know your motive then it doesn't matter where you end up. In this post I want to summarise some of the major motivators that Pakistani students seem to have and then I outline how to go about your search for a university accordingly. For all purposes, aim high, give yourself sufficient time to conduct your research and planning, and believe that you can achieve your goals, if you don't believe that you can, then no one has reason to believe otherwise.

Professionals who are bored with their jobs and don't think that there is much career progression left for them in their current line of work, want to go for higher studies to hone their skills for a promotion/career switch. For this type of student it is essential to be clear about what sort of career switch they have in mind and to target only the best in that field, rather than fumbling in the dark in quest of just an admission to any foreign university, which would not add much value to their career progression. Once you know what career switch you have in mind, you should start with trying to study up on any pre-reqs that your chosen course requires, and ensure that you find this work mentally stimulating, it is no fun switching from one boring job to another.

People who just want to end up in a foreign land to get a nationality. If you fall in this category, you should first make a very thorough evaluation and see if you can really not make a successful living in Pakistan and would be really better off in a foreign land. Fulfilling dollar dreams comes at a price, know this and make sure that you are willing to pay it. If you really want to study in a foreign university so you are better qualified to work in that country then it is very important that you pick the right country. You should see which countries have good health care, children schooling, the buying power of the people, the unemployment rates, hate crime rates etc. After choosing your ideal country understand that country's immigration policies, pick out a few good universities from that country, understand their admission requisites. Try to stay away from agents, you are intelligent enough to figure out much of it on your own.

Students who want to make up for the bad grades they got in a Pakistani university, and want to add the stamp of a foreign university to their CV, to get a better job in Pakistan. There are two ways to go about it, first you may aim low and go to some low ranking foreign university, the other path is to get an MS from a local university, get good grades there, and then aim high and target good level foreign universities. I encourage you to invest some serious time in your personal growth and go for the second option.

Listless youth who don't really know what to do with life and just want to do another degree for the sake of it. I would encourage you to carry out some social work rather than embarking on a higher degree. Social work will give you some direction in your own personal endeavours and hopefully help you figure out what you really want to do with your life.

Students with good grades who actually want to study more for the sake of it. I encourage these students to prime their portfolio well, have a good GRE/GMAT/TOEFL score under their belt, some quality research work or good internships as well. Target 2 dream schools, 3 middle schools and 2 safe schools. An overwhelming and daunting task, I know, but it will pay off well. And the importance of contacting the faculty at your target schools cannot be overemphasised, contact the professors in your fields of interest and try to secure student ships and research grants, which are most often at the professors' discretion. And do apply for Fulbright and Rhodes, you are worth it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice post. The paragraph about listless youths describes me perfectly.