Underplaying the role of education in “Education”

Advice from someone on university selections for graduate admissions:

Some general advise first, I am not sure if she intends to stay and work here or she intends to go back to India. According to me, that should be a very important consideration in the decision. CA and NY,NJ are very expensive states while VA is cheaper and TX is the cheapest in terms of cost of living and the difference can be upto 30% during her studies.

If she intends to stay and work here, then the investment of going to a school in CA becomes the best as Silicone Valley is nearby and most big companies in Computer Science/Machine Learning are located there. Although it will be expensive during college, with her specialization, she will have little problem in getting a good paying job ($80,000 – $100,000+) in CA. Companies prefer to hire from local schools. If this is the path she would like to go on, I would advise her to look at the college’s past year Career Fair Website and see which companies recruit from there. You want to have some target companies where you want to work at after your studies. You also want to make sure that they have a record of hiring and sponsoring candidates like you before you select your grad school. Whether the company sponsors visas or not can be found by looking at the companies current openings and seeing if they explicitly mention that they will or will not sponsor candidates. You want to add that to the spreadsheet you use to make a decision.

If she intends to go back to India, then i would advise her to look at some of the less expensive states and save the difference as the more “prestigious” university will not bring that much of a salary difference in India to cover the additional expenses.

If the salary post-college is the only outcome or measure of going to the states to study, going to the states to study wouldn’t make pure economic sense either.

The “prestigious” universities attract the best talent in the world and also the best of professors. After my two years in the US, even if I decide to come to India and take up a job, a job is not the culmination/result/output of the 2 years spent in mastering a subject which is more fuelled by passion for the subject and education. What I learn in those “prestigious” universities and make of myself is something that sticks with me throughout my life and career and can’t be measured by the CTC at my first job as I land in India.

Having said that, I am providing my recommendations based on the “stay and work in the US” scenario. I base my recommendations on the “name recognition” of a Computer Science school, expected post education salary, current tuition and having 2-3 “safe” but good schools to apply to. I know the applications are expensive so I kept them at a minimum.

<- List of Colleges ->

Let me know if this helps. Also, let me know if she intends to go back to India, in which case my recommendation would have been different and I would apply to the less expensive schools more.

Thank you.


I don’t know. Do you think I should reject applying to some of the best colleges if I plan to study in India in the future because they are expensive? How does that become a factor that precedes the quality of education I receive?

Also, how do I decide which companies I would want to sit for after my studies? You see, ML is a vast field with vast applications and depending on what I research on and be interested in during the two years, I will pick my job choices.

I understand your arguments well but isn’t this monetizing education and letting it shape the way it is practised and understood in the society? Maybe I have very idealistic views about it at this stage, I feel I shouldn’t be chasing the money or the jobs. Education itself is an asset I will be drawing upon in my entire life and I should pursue the research program I am most interested for education sake well above the factors like future companies, placement scenario, salaries, stay in India or abroad. Wouldn’t it completely demean the purpose and meaning of education if we looked at the market value of the education and not the study itself?

To sum it up, how ridiculous do you have to be to say that let’s base the decision of how good a university you go to on where you intend to study further. Doesn’t what I shall learn there matter? doesn’t the proficiency of the research programs, professors and students matter? How can you underplay education as a factor to this extent? This is where I don’t understand a major part of the society- go to harvard. But harvard doesn’t have a good Machine Learning dept and that’s what I want to study. Oh no, kiddo, you will be brand Harvard for life and that’s what matters… go to TCS for your summer internship. But TCS will give me grunt work and make me file reports and donkey work, I wouldn’t learn anything! Oh no, kiddo, you will be associated with brand TCS. The name matters. The status symbol. Can I work at this start-up where I know I will learn things that will last a lifetime? It will give me a real opportunity at working on something that I am really passionate about. Oh come on, AIM BIG. Don’t get sold to these small fishes in the ocean. *sneer sneer* Can I study at this lesser known university which does amazing stuff in ML? Oh no, kiddo, don’t you see? you would be “unbranded”.

We are degrading the whole point of education, which is- to educate. To think critically. To learn and generate ideas. chasing brands. chasing market values. chasing names. Is this what being practical is about? I hate practicality in that case. It’s not real. It’s not raw. It’s unbelievably frustrating.

Let’s make brand chains for wrist watches. Let’s make brand chains for clothes. Let’s make brand chains for Purses, Jewellery and Sofas. But please, spare education. Don’t make brand chains.


One thought on “Underplaying the role of education in “Education”

  1. It is a bit disturbing to see education’s value being so less in someone’s decision making process and the choice of place of work having such a high value. If they really think that these decisions should be formed before studying then there is something seriously wrong. And, if you don’t let your studies affect you, if you don’t let it change your decisions and perceptions then did you really ever study?

    I, thankfully have been advised for a long long time by people who never placed any emphasis on any sort of brand value or any other “brand factors”. It is the field of interest and the quality of education in that particular field at that place that has been the deciding factor. These factors make the most logical sense because once you have the knowledge, what you want to do next would be a very simple step forward.

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