Thursday, March 2, 2017

Studying in the U.S. as a Science Master's Student

We recently asked our student ambassador, Anmol Vohra, a few questions about her experience as an international student in the U.S. Read on to get her thoughts on studying in San Francisco, her science master’s program, and more.


What made you want to earn your degree in the U.S.?
I am currently pursuing my professional science master's (PSM) degree in biotechnology from the University of San Francisco. PSM is a relatively new degree and is a comprehensive and unique program that combines biotechnology, bioinformatics, and an MBA into one degree. I chose to study in the U.S. because this type of program is only offered here and I have always wanted a career that went beyond a laboratory.

After deciding to earn your degree in the U.S., when did you begin researching colleges?
I began researching programs in my first (freshman) year of college.

How did you decide which universities were the best fit for you?
First, there were very few universities offering the program of my choice. So I looked carefully at each university and made my decision based on the following factors:
  • Courses of my liking
  • Initiative taken by the department to help students gain real-world experience during the program
  • Geographical location of the university
What advice do you have for others going through the research process?
I feel that people concentrate a lot on getting into a top-ranked university. However, it is also important to consider whether that university is a good fit for you and whether you like the courses they offer. Aside from a number ranking, I recommend taking the program courses, tuition fees, and scholarship and internship opportunities into consideration while searching for universities. It is also helpful to find alumni on LinkedIn to see where the program alumni are working and where they did their internships.

Did the cost of tuition in the U.S. affect your decision in selecting a university?
Studying in the U.S. can be expensive. My advice would be to place importance on the tuition fees while doing your research. While I am living in an expensive city, I can handle expenses like utilities because I have an on-campus job.

What was your experience like once you reached the U.S.?
Arriving in the U.S. and starting the first semester was a mixture of three things:
  • Academics: Great!
  • Finances: Unfortunately, I could not get an on-campus job opportunity during my first semester which was a little challenging financially.
  • Homesickness: In hindsight, I thought being away from home would not be so hard. However, I am very close to my family and moving to the U.S. was a big change after having lived with them before studying here. I experienced a lot of mood swings in my first two months because I felt very homesick, but eventually, I started making friends and became very occupied by my studies. Though you may experience some homesickness when you arrive, know that things will fall into place. Now I am very happy where I am.
What are your biggest takeaways from your study abroad experience?
The entire admissions process seems daunting at first since most of us are going through it for the first time and are unfamiliar with the procedures. Try to take it one step at a time, and remember that while it is not a difficult process it does take time. My two takeaway messages are:

  1. Choose a school that is best for you. Be honest with yourself about what you want.
  2. Do not be afraid to reach out to professors or anyone at the universities both before and after coming to U.S. Their main purpose is to serve students.
Would you like to answer frequently asked questions on your unique experience studying abroad? Sign up for our Student Ambassador Program today!
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Anmol Vohra is pursuing her professional science master’s (PSM) in biotechnology at the University of San Francisco.

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