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Coming to America

Bound for the U.S. and need more info? Check out what Natasha Pratap has to say

IF THE adventurous spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers is not your call and `In God We Trust' not your motto and yet the `sweet land of liberty' beckons, then Natasha Pratap's book Wanna Study In The U.S.? should be tucked firmly under your arm. Hordes of students from this State have been heading to what may well be the last bastion of hedonism. To the rest of the world outside the circle of friends that the U.S. holds dear, it may well be the land low on scruples, lower on emotions, high on dreams, higher on sweepstakes.

It may be the land where achievement is often used as a synonym for material accomplishment. But its lure among the young and among the driven is unchallenged.

Hence the need for a book which aims to tell you that Uncle Sam with its vast repertoire of colleges is caring as ever, welcoming as ever, never mind if you have to fill out dreaded Statements of Purpose (SOP) or run hard to get recommendations.

Out of experience

On why she wrote the book, Natasha who has pursued both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the U.S. says, "When friends asked me questions on their applications or essays I realised that what seemed obvious to me was not to others. Bookstores in Mumbai had little information on the application procedure and even prospectuses of colleges say little.

The net is too vast and certain information is misleading. I think I was qualified to write this book as I had experienced the system first hand."

With a foreword by Mukesh Ambani who says that "the book shows by example what students did to get there", the paperback also democratises this advantage to a wider cross-section of Indian students.

Key sections of the book include 101 tips on the application process which offers detailed, practical advice ranging from selecting universities, editing essays and obtaining effective recommendations, original essays by applicants admitted to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia and the Wharton School, scholarships worth Rs. 25 lakhs from Indian sources, visa questions and answers prepared in consultation with the U.S. consulate, Mumbai, interviews with the associate director, Stanford and a student member of the Harvard admissions committee, application deadlines and a special section for parents.

"One of the two hurdles most difficult to cross is the application process. Many applicants tend to borrow SOPs from others and then modify it as in India we are hardly taught to be introspective in our essays. The other is the psychological hurdle created by fears that are wholly baseless."

Proficient writer

Natasha received scholarships to pursue her B.A. in English at Stanford University and her M.A. in Creative Writing at Boston University. She also pursued a degree in law from the University of Cambridge, U.K. She has been a short story writer and among other things published widely.

Natasha currently runs WAO (Words for Any Occasion), a niche boutique offering creative writing services and customised writing workshops for organisations.

"The book is not a promo for the U.S. A combination of Indian and American education will stand you in good stead and develop overall skills. Studying in the U.S. is about pushing your boundaries.

Many doors will open once you have a great school behind you. It's always amusing to see expressions change when I mention where I studied. Choose to study in the U.S. because you'll be the better for it."

Whether you are years away from commencing a U.S. degree or weeks away from mailing your application, you will find tremendous value in this book and for all those who need to be led into the promised land by the hand, Natasha Pratap will be addressing an interactive session at the Walden Book Store, Begumpet at 5 p.m. tomorrow.


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