Monday, February 7, 2011

My life as a student at Carnegie Mellon University:

Ankit K. shares his experience at Carnegie Mellon University.

Q :- You have been one of those highly respected lot of students who have been doing higher studies at Carnegie Mellon University.How does it feel to be at Carnegie Mellon University, USA?
A :- Achieving what you have aim for is always satisfying and pleasing. CMU was one of my dream universities and I am glad that I got a chance to experience the amazing learning environment at CMU. Overall,I am realizing my dream and its worth. The University is very vibrant with students all across the globe. It gives an incredible opportunity to all students to do what they really want to do.

Q :- Please tell us about which courses you are studying and why did you choose that course?
A :- I am currently a graduate student at CMU pursuing Masters in Information Systems and Management (MISM). I did my under graduation in Computer Science and worked in IBM for 3 years as Software Engineer. I was always passionate about information field and at the same time wanted to work as a Consultant. MISM at CMU is an ideal program which matched my skills set and requirements.
I have taken courses relevant to data mining, finance and management. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about almost everything I dreamt of.

Q :- Why did you choose the USA for higher education?
A :- It was a straight forward decision for me. If not India, then USA was the only place which I could have thought of. As per my knowledge, the education from US is valued the most and the returns are way too high compared to the cost incurred. And, I am not at all disappointed with my decision.

Q :- How is Carnegie Mellon University different than any other USA University based on whatever you have heard from your friends about?
A :- CMU is a very small university compared to many other universities across USA. The sports facilities are less, but whatever they have is of world class quality. In-campus job opportunities are very less. These are the only negative things that I have heard of. But, when a student is coming here for education, does the other small factors really matter? I do not think so.

Q :- Are you happy with your decision?
A :- Oh yes absolutely. There is no second thought in my mind as of now. It has been a pleasure to be a part of such an institution. I am enjoying each and every moment during my stay at CMU.

Q :- Where do you eat? Do you cook yourself?
A :- At the start of my semester, I mostly ate outside. There are lots of Indian food outlets in Pittsburgh. Also, there are Indian outlets within the University and a meal in the University cost $5 only.
But, as the days passed by, I started cooking also. You name a food item and you can get that in Indian stores. Being a vegetarian, I prefer eating at Indian outlets and cooking at home. I do visit places like Subway, Quiznos and some Chinese eateries.

Q :- Where do you live? On-campus or off-campus and why?
A :- I live off-campus. The University does not provide any accommodation facilities for graduate students.

Q :- Please share some of your experiences of the USA for aspiring students
A :- The best part of the education in USA is its flexibility. A student can take whichever course he/she wants across any department. In short, you can create your own degree. Learning opportunity always knocks your door here. One can always work in their interests and build their competency level. No one will stop you here.
For example, I love photography and am planning to take a course next fall. No one will ask any question and that’s the beauty of this place.

Q :- What’s your advice to students who aspire to go to the USA for higher studies?
A :- The key is to have patience and doing lots of research. Do not go with the ranking of the Universities, but with the ranking of the course that they offer. If you are fully aware of what you want to do, then have a look at the course content of each university. Not all universities have the same courses content for a particular degree. For Indians, high score in GMAT/GRE is desirable if you are looking for financial aid and also admission. Tons of applications come from India.

Q :- Other than academics, what else did you learn from the country USA?
A :- The cross culture experience is worth mentioning. There are students from almost 30 plus countries in my department. When it comes to this country, one thing is for certain; you will become much more independent. There won’t be any maid for you to cook or to clean the house and on top of that there will be assignments, exams and deadlines. Time management is the key in this country and people are much disciplined when it comes to punctuality.

Q :- How are the studies in the USA different than the studies in India?
A :- Oh, very different. As I see, there is no comparison. It is not about the course content, but it’s about the flexibility. I study what I want to, though there are some core courses which one needs to do. But, enough slots to fill in with the subject of your choice. Professors are world class and an interested student can do research on any field of his/her interest. Professors are always available and there will be enough audience and support staff for any ideas/problems a student might have.

Q :- Is it worth spending so much money to get a degree from the USA as compared to similar degree in India with lower costs?
A :- This is a very tricky question and the response will vary from individual to individual. For me it was a straight forward decision as the course which I wanted to take was not offered in any universities in India. But, if there is a match, then I will go for the brand name. Mostly this will be my last level of education and considering this I would like to study at the best place.

Q :- What’s your advice to parents of aspiring students?
A :- This is the most difficult situation a student faces during academia and parents should motivate their kids at this juncture. There will be many problems like financial, emotional attachment etc, but, a good thought process is required from their part and a rational decision should be made.

Q :- What are your future plan?
A :- I am planning to get into consulting domain in Information Technology field. After a few years of work, I would like to return to my mother land.

Q :- How did you fund your higher education?
A :- I took a loan from Credila which covered my first 2 semester fees. I will be doing internship during summers which will take care of my final semester.

Q :- Why did you choose Credila?
A :- I didn’t have any other choice. All the banks shut their doors for me. I went to many funding organization within and outside my community, but in vain. Finally I got to know about Credila. In the beginning it didn’t work out as my property was under Gram Panchayat. But later, Credila called me back and shown their willingness to fund me. The same property was used, but Credila went out of its way to get my work done. The best part is the interest rate of the loan which was highly competitive and was even better than many private banks.

Q :- If Credila arranges a chat session with you for prospective students sometime in the future, will you be available for the chat on Credila’s expert chat session?
A :- Yes,sure.

Q :- Any other references you can give us who can answer similar interviews?
A :- I do not know anyone personally who have taken a loan from Credila.

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