Anant Ambani went to Brown, an Ivy League university - does that mean he is smarter than you?

Quite a few of my friends from high school went to the US for their undergraduate studies. It hurt when my parents or their friends hailed them as the success stories of our batch, because deep down I knew that none of them could have cracked a Tier 1 college in India. While I was struggling for a place in one of the IITs/BITS, they were simply paying their way into American universities. Competition in the US was less fierce, costs unaffordable for many middle-class Indian families. Yes, many of them went on to have respectable careers and are now settled in the US. But they only got in because their parents could afford to pay for their college.

(Disclaimer: My mother also funded my undergraduate studies, but I could have borrowed if I’d needed to.)

For my parents’ generation, moving abroad was synonymous with succeeding. If I’d got a job at TCS and moved to the US after years of toiling for 3LPA, my family and their acquaintances would have been prouder of me than anything I’d achieved in my career.

Would I have jumped at the chance to study in the US at a top college if possible? Absolutely. The prospect of learning alongside a cohort of people from all over the world, in a well-funded and world-renowned institution, and earning a salary of 100-200k straight out of college, which takes over 10 years to achieve here, is appealing. Anyone who says otherwise is simply coping. Even now, most successful people who can afford it send their children to the US to study. And even a JEE topper would go to the MIT/ Stanford if someone offers to fund their studies and they have no personal reason to stay back here.

Is going to study in the US = you being the best in your high school cohort? No. If given the chance, should you go? Probably yes.