Escape Velocity is a concept used in spacecraft launches. In order for a spacecraft to escape the gravitational pull of the earth, an enormous amount of upward thrust (force) is applied during the launch so that it can escape the earth’s pull and establish itself successfully in orbit.

The concept of escape velocity doesnt just apply to spacecrafts but also to careers of students as well. Think of launching yourself with such a thrust that you can overcome any force pulling you down before you embark on a successful career. Now you might ask, what are the forces that pulls a student down?

The biggest nightmare for any student or parent is the cost of education, especially if its from a private college. Many parents bear the burden of undergraduate education which can run into 5-10 lakhs while a postgraduate education abroad (United States) can cost anything between 15 lakhs to 60-70 lakhs depending on the brand and reputation of the university.

So whats the thrust that can help unchain a student from the burden of loans? How can students start their career on a clean state instead of a negative bank balance? Its Scholarships, ofcourse. In earlier days, scholarships, as the name implies, was meant for scholars, students who excelled academically. That has created a perception that only extremely bright students get scholarships.

The other myth is that if you want to study in a good school , it has to be an MIT or Harvard or Carnegie Mellon or a Stanford. Yes these are great schools and have built a great reputation but dont forget that their marketing department has also created a perception of greatness. On the other hand, the world forgets several underrated European universities that also compete for students who have great potential.

So, what kind of students get scholarships? Lets list them out..

  1. Ofcourse, the meritorious students who do very well academically. The best schools like Harvard, MIT offer them scholarships
  2. Universities with offbeat programs (such as Environmental Sustainability, Economics, Renewable Energy etc) in Germany, Sweden, France, Singapore etc
  3. European Universities that offer programs in languages other than English (like German) also offer scholarships to attract international students
  4. Several APAC and European Universities that compete with top US Schools offer 100% scholarships to attract students not just based on academics but also based on their passion and demonstrated acumen in the subject area
  5. Specific country tie-ups with India to attract Indian students (UK, France, Germany, Sweden etc) admitted to any university in that country.
  6. Universities offer sponsorships for research students to fuel innovation.

Remember that paying your way for an education at MIT/Harvard might still be a good idea due to the high earning potential of graduates from these schools. However if you are able to secure full scholarship from other schools which are as good as the above schools in terms of quality though not on the official ranking list, you can launch yourself with full thrust in a career of your choice. All you need to do is follow your interests in an offbeat area (unlike computer science or engineering) or learn a foreign language like French or German.

Always be smart about your career choices. When you evaluate a university, dont just look at the brand name. Look for quality of the faculty, their reputation in journal publications, links to industry and internship opportunities . Also try to contact ex-students who studied there and get their feedback. Write to the university or a professor explaining your interest in the program and request for a scholarship.

Just imagine a student graduating from Harvard with a loan of 100,000 USD (70 lakhs INR) vs a student graduating from KTH Sweden (which has a pretty good reputation) without any loan. Which would you prefer?

Please look at interviews from students who got scholarships to study