How important is college’s ranking while shortlisting one for overseas studies?

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Quite often, I have seen Indian students who are planning to go abroad interested in going to colleges that are higher ranked – may that be in US News Ranking or QS Ranking.

I have been assisting students going abroad for more than a decade now. I help them also in shortlisting the colleges for them to apply to. Do I give weightage to their rankings? The answer is yes, and no.

Though I do believe a good ranking is a parameter one should consider, it should not be the only parameter for choosing the college.

We Indian’s when we go abroad, motivation is not just to get a good education – the greater motivation is to settle there. So, what we need is colleges that can get us good jobs, for that would improve the chances for the student to get the Permanent Residency (PR).

So, what other parameters should be considered?

First and foremost- the ability of the college to get us the jobs should be seen. Like in India, there are states/cities which are known for IT jobs (Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, to name a few), for Mechanical Engineering jobs (Chennai), same is the case in the US and other countries as well. We, therefore, should first focus on colleges in these states. This state shortlisting would, of course, change from area to area and should be focused according to the area of specialization.

Second, even within the states, we should look for colleges in the right cities. For us to get jobs, internships are the best route. Unlike in India, where colleges get the companies, in these countries, students should proactively look for the companies. The best route here is through internships. A student’s chances of getting internships are higher if the college is close to regions of company locations. I normally prefer urban colleges to one in a rural area – as companies – especially tech-based ones, are mostly urban-based.

Racism is real. There are a few states that discriminate against the “brown-skinned.” And I say – if they do not want us, we do not want them! I, therefore, avoid colleges in states where racism is high – however good the college may be. This problem becomes bigger if the discrimination comes from companies as well. Imagine someone getting a job over you in spite of your profile being better – just because your skin color is not the right one by them!

I also avoid colleges where too many Indian students go. The reason is simple- your competition would be higher. Imagine a company that is okay recruiting Indians come – what do you think would happen. Every Indian would end up applying! So you would be competing with other Indians for everything – from part-time jobs, to internships, and to final jobs. Not a good idea – especially so if your profile is a very typical Indian profile!

Students sometimes underestimate the issue of weather. Certain states and places can be freezingly cold or horribly hot. Some places are known for regular dust storms. Yes, our body can get used to it. However, if you do have some known problem – say asthma or dust allergy- then why test your body’s ability to overcome it. Remember – there are other options – then why fight for those where you know your body can be a disadvantage.

Finally, the budget should be an important consideration. Having said that, I am not for colleges where other students are not as good as you – and so you may be offered scholarships. I strongly believe we should go to colleges which also attract students who are better than us. But that also means – the ability to win scholarships would be lesser. So, do not fight for such a college. Rather fight for an assistantship or look for good colleges in states where the fees and cost of living are lesser.

Going abroad is a big decision. You should be careful about the choices you make. Any mistake there can impact your whole plan. So, choose wisely.

What is the fun of going to a college that is highly ranked but not the right one for you?

The author, Mohamed Abdullah, is a Mechanical Engineer. He has been assisting students to go to top colleges across the world for more than a decade. He can be reached at

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