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Dear Mentor:

Should my daughter attend a US community college?
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I am a father of two. My son, after his Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree from Bombay University, is doing his Master's degree in University of California, Berkeley, California, USA. He joined there in the fall 2000. Now my daughter is doing her Computer Engineering in Bombay. She is in her first year. Kindly advise me if it is wise for her to join a community college in Berkeley, or finish her degree in India and go for Master's degree like my son. We are from a middle class family. Please guide me. Thanks.

Caring Parent, Mumbai, India

Dear Caring Parent:

We are glad to hear that your children are doing so well in college. From our understanding of the background of your situation, our suggestion is that your daughter should finish her Computer Engineering degree in India.

Here is the rationale for our thinking. The cost of education in the US is extremely high. Financial support for international students to pursue undergraduate studies (Bachelor's degree) is nominal, if any. It is true that international students can work for up to 20 hours per week on campus, but earnings from such employment are nominal, compared to the actual needs. Even if your daughter joins a college in or around Berkeley, where she is able to share room & board with your son, the cost of tuition is still prohibitive. We can relate well to being from a middle class family in India. To support her education for several years of undergraduate studies would be an extremely challenging proposition for you.

type of college number of campuses in the San Francisco Bay area typical yearly tuition for international student example college website
private colleges 20 $20,000 St. Marys
University of California 3 $14,000 Berkeley
California State University 3 $6,000 Hayward
Community Colleges 18 $3,000 Vista

You mentioned "community college" in the US for your daughter. We are not sure exactly what you meant by that, but we wish to clarify the terminology. In the US, a community college is an academic institution where students pursue 2-year programs after high school. Such programs typically award an associate degree or vocational certificates, which are valued much less than a Bachelor's degree. For example, in a Community College in the US, a computer curriculum trains people how to use PCs and applications like Word and Excel. It primarily trains people for office work. We are not sure if you really meant this as an option for your daughter. We strongly recommend that she finish her degree in Computer Engineering in India, instead of a program from a community college in the US.

After finishing her degree in India, your daughter can apply for Master's degree programs in the US. In comparison to an undergraduate program, her chances of gaining financial support for graduate program (Master's degree) are much better. Financial support for engineering programs at the graduate level in the US, although highly competitive, is more readily available than in other disciplines.

As you can see, both from academic and financial standpoints, you and daughter are liable to come out ahead by following our suggestion. You may wish to research further information on Education in the US in the iMahal Education Resources.

Best wishes.

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