Why Study Abroad Series: Breadth Of Course Options

Human beings come in an infinitely diverse range; there’s no pigeonholing us, because we are all unique. Sadly, many colleges are not always able to give us the infinite range of courses we deserve, and all of us have to be sorted into ‘streams’ or choose one course out of a grand choice of six.

Things are different in the US. Give yourself a challenge: think of a discipline of human knowledge, no matter how strange. Then use Google to see if that discipline is taught anywhere in the US. If you find it, buy yourself an ice-cream. You’ll end up gaining a few kilos because of excessive ice-cream consumption.

Here are a few more details about the breadth of course options on offer:

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Some courses are just not available in Indian colleges

If you want to study engineering in India, you probably think you’re in luck. Unless you want to do a ‘different’ kind of course within engineering – for example, Nuclear or Aerospace Engineering, in which case your options dwindle to a mere handful. Similarly, within the Arts, your options are severely limited if you want to do something unconventional, that not many people opt for. And if you step off the beaten path altogether and aspire to learn something formally that hardly anyone chooses to learn, there’s no chance of you finding an educational institution that will teach it to you, in India.

However, US colleges are different. There are many more credible universities on the other side of the world, so you can find the exact thing you’re interested in, whether it’s taxonomy, theatre or taxation. If you’re interested in more than one thing, you just pick up a bouquet of major and minors that complements your learning goals.

You don’t have to choose on Day 1

As we cover in detail elsewhere in this series, you get to take your time and make sure that you experience the entire breadth of courses on offer before settling on one of them. Yes, you are exposed to a dazzling array of options. Yes, you do get to take a couple of years to narrow down those options to what is really right for you.

You can find the course you want

The great thing about departments and professors in the US universities is that they’re willing to talk. It’s not easy to understand what a Modern Art course is about, for example, by using the Internet alone. It’s much better if you can visit the department, meet the people, talk to the students, and so on. And that’s exactly what you can do; the ecosystem makes sure that you can immerse yourself in a completely strange subject, and gather first hand information about what it’s all about. When you speak to senior Professors, they might even have valuable insight on what courses you might be interested in, related to your area of interest; it’s like having a recommendation engine that helps you discover new, interesting courses.

It’s always a conversation starter

Almost every undergrad in the US has a story about that one course they took just so they could tell their friends they were doing something bizarre. For example, someone going to Centre College might talk about the Art of Walking course they once took, and comment on how easy the assignments were. Or your friend in Alabama might interrupt your viewing of the Go Goa Gone DVD with the news that he’s actually taking a course in Zombies. The bottom line is that the US has courses to satisfy your every wish – whether you want to learn, challenge yourself, take it easy, or just have some fun.

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