Students had the opportunity to clarify their doubts about studying in the U.S. during the recent education fair in Chennai.

Every year, a large chunk of the student population either graduating from high school or pursuing their final year of undergraduate and postgraduate studies make a beeline to educational fairs held for foreign universities hoping to chase their dream of studying in one. The education fair held in Chennai on February 20 was no different as hundreds of wide-eyed students interacted with representatives of the handful of colleges from the United States.

Tom Montgomery, Vice Consul, U.S. Consulate Chennai, says that close to 1,00,000 Indian students go to the U.S. for higher studies. The colleges that participated in the interactive seminar were The University of Toledo, Ohio, Penn State University, California State University, New York Film Academy, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Stephen F. Austin State University, among others.

Universities mainly look at the strong high school record of the students applying for the programmes. Apart from this, the approach of the applying candidate is also considered. “You need to be serious and fully committed to preparing for the course,” Mr. Montgomery says. “One needs to have a clear vision about why and how he or she wants to do a particular course. You cannot just leaf through the Wikipedia page of the university and expect to get in!”

Mary-Ellen Madigan, Director of Enrolment Management at Penn State University, Pennsylvania, says, “We try to attract a lot of foreign students to the undergraduate programmes in the university. What drives students to apply to overseas universities is that they primarily want to experience a different culture.” Engineering and business are still the most sought after programmes in foreign universities. While the fees for the programmes may range from $9,000 to $15,000, one needs to be prepared to shell out almost the same amount for living expenses. Some universities give limited scholarships to students with an impressive academic record.

Prepare early

The key is to start early in your preparations to study abroad. Don’t wait till after school to apply to colleges in the U.S. There are a lot of steps involved in the admission procedure, not to mention the bureaucratic hurdles. Ideally, you need to start preparing at least 18 months before the beginning of the term.

The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) is a foundation which promotes bilateral education ties between the two nations. It provides information on higher education in the U.S. Session are held from Monday to Friday and on every second and fourth Saturday at the U.S. Consulate, Chennai. More information at:


  • Narrow down the list of schools you want to apply to.
  • Do proper research on the programmes you are interested in.
  • Prepare for GRE, SAT or other tests required by institutes.
  • Apply to colleges when admission opens.
  • Prepare for the interview; make sure your certificates are in order.
  • Once you are admitted to a school, apply for a visa immediately.
  • While narrowing down schools, the factors that need to be considered are — size of the institute, location, climate, its international student population, research facilities and of course, the quality of their study programmes.