Dear Mentor:

How should I pursue a career in science in the US?

I am a student in 12th Grade, on the Science side. I am interested in pure sciences. Sir, would you help me in deciding my career in U.S.?

Success in Science, India

Dear Success in Science:

We thank you for writing to us. We get excited when we hear from the young people like you who are obviously striving for Success. We at iMahal wish to encourage and promote Success and Learning. And, we believe that Success comes by design, and not by luck or accident. Thinking about your career while in school is important, because your actions today will influence your Success tomorrow. So you are on the right track, and we are happy about it.

We truly believe that all education is valuable, no matter in which field. It makes for a better, more knowledgeable person. However, the monetary rewards for education are determined by the employment marketplace. When the supply of talent in a particular field is in short supply relative to the demand, the financial value of the talent increases. Conversely, when the supply of talent in a particular field exceeds the demand, the financial value of the talent decreases. This supply and demand for talent continually fluctuates, depending on what the business environment demands.

Since businesses are interested in utilizing the talents of its employees to create wealth, they tend to be more interested in professional degrees (such as engineering, computer science, business, etc.). Thus the rewards for the pure science or humanities education tend be lower. In these fields, a Bachelor's degree may not be sufficient to pursue the field of your choice, and you may have to pursue a Master's or PhD degree to be successful.

As a student, and later as a young professional, you would have to strike an appropriate balance, the balance that is right for you, between what you like and what you can achieve by doing only what you like. For example, we know of a case where the person wanted to do a Bachelor's degree in English because he was very interested in the field. Upon graduation, the only acceptable job he could find was that of an insurance sales agent. So four years of education in the area of personal interest led to an outcome of spending the rest of his life in something that he did not like. This story does continue on a happier note. He subsequently went on to do an MBA, and he is currently a successful business executive.

You can see that you have to make your choices carefully. Should you choose to pursue a Bachelor' degree in pure sciences, then be prepared to pursue a Master's degree. However, that Master's degree can also be in areas other than Sciences, such as MBA or Master's in Computer Science.

We are intrigued by your question about a career in the US. We are not sure if you mean education in the US or career in the US. The most valued education in the US is in engineering, computer science, medicine and business. However, coming to the US for a career, after gaining such education in India, is not easy. You may wish to refer to an earlier Dear Mentor column, in which we discussed various ways of making a career in the US.

On the other hand, if your question was about education in the US, subsequent to the completion of Grade 12, then the answer is not very encouraging. The cost of education in the US is extremely high - the cost per year for international students ranges from US$15,000 to US$40,000. Virtually no financial aid is available to international (foreign) students at the Bachelor's degree level. So you have to be independently wealthy for such an undertaking. Financial aid to international students is available, although the competition is fierce, at the Master's or PhD degree level. Such assistance is more readily available in technical fields than in pure sciences.

Feel free to contact us again, and on an on-going basis, as you make your decisions for your personal success. We shall try our best to offer you guidance, if you like, as your situation evolves. In the meantime, we wish you great success.

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