Other Miscellaneous Factors

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You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resourcesβ€”including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

This could mean anything, but the most common factors we recommend you look at are the ranking, location, and living expenses.

Ranking, as we saw before, is not the best metric to measure your experience. However, it would be naive on our part to suggest not looking at it. We recommend triaging your information by looking through the multiple ranking sites mentioned before: QS World Rankings, Times Higher Education Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Rather than looking at the overall ranking of a university, search for the ranks pertaining to your department wherever available.

Location is an important part of your experience. If you’re used to living in the city all your life, filled with bustling restaurants and theaters, it would be a difficult transition to study at a university that is situated deep in a rural area, such as Dartmouth College. On the flip side, someone who cherishes peace and quiet would be unnerved with the city that never sleeps, a.k.a. New York.

​danger​ Another good reason to check the location would be to understand the weather. The weather can go to extremes during winter in the U.S., as seen in the map below for the month of December, created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.* Note that the temperatures are in Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

Source: Average monthly temperature for 2019-12-00. NOAA Climate.gov

Finally, you can get an estimate of your living expenses by using an online website calculator. At a first glance, the increase in the cost of living will certainly alarm you. In fact, it took me more than a year to stop converting USD to INR every time I purchased food or groceries. We can’t stop you from going through that phase, but we can tell you that you won’t just have a higher cost of living in the U.S., you will also have a higher salary and benefits. Eventually, it will balance out the cost. For example, there seems to be a 566% increase in the rent from Hyderabad to Seattle for a modest studio spanning 480 square feet.* While that estimate is true, it doesn’t take into account the difference in average salary between both locations (which is in the order of 400%).

The U.S. is indeed a more expensive country to live in, but not as much as you would think from a first glance.

Other Resources for University Data

For all the quadrants above, the best way to get qualitative data is to reach out to your seniors and friends who’ve taken this path already. While reaching out to these individuals, always be respectful of their time. Rather than sending a LinkedIn invite and asking for a 30-minute phone call out of the blue, create a Google Doc with the list of questions you want to ask them and send over the link after they agree to help you out. This way, you get your questions answered at a time of their convenience without going through the hassle of scheduling a call (not to mention the ordeal of different time zones).

Because you want to be a satisficer, talk to no more than two current or past students per university at this point.

Another less personal but more time-saving option is to comb through answers on Quora* and Reddit,* which have dedicated spaces for past students to write about their experiences.

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