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Cricket – A Passion

The game of cricket which is one of the top 10 most popular sports in the world today, is an insanely genius invention by some children in the late 16th century. Although it was invented by those children to amuse themselves, adults began to take interest in it. There are records of cricket being played by the rich and elite classes of the society in the early 17th century.

The first definite reference of cricket was in 1597. A court case in England concerning an ownership dispute over a plot of common land in Guilford, Surrey, mentions the game of ‘Creckett’. The name of this game underwent misspells and eventually ended up being ‘Cricket’. The name may have been derived from the Middle Dutch, ‘Krick’ meaning a ‘wooden post’. While initially the game was being played with sticks the bat became the standard over time. As the game became popular and started being played at international level newer standards began to be introduced. Currently, the International Cricket Board, the umbrella organization for international cricket is the authority that prescribes rules for the game as well as standard safety gears, bats and balls. 

As the game evolved, it became a game played over a number of days where each side will bat and bowl twice. It was not until the late 20th century that newer and shorter formats of the game were introduced. The one day 50 over format was the first modification, the 20 over format was introduced in the 2000s and the 10 over format is the latest introduced format.

Cricket entered in India along with the British. The British officers played cricket amongst themselves. The Indians learned after mimicking the British officers’ game. India’s national team played its first International match on 25th June 1932 in a Test match at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground, becoming the sixth team to be granted Test Cricket status. From that day India had to wait for 20 years for its first test victory. The Indian team finally got stronger and started gaining strength and domination in the 1970s. 

Quite naturally, cricket in India first became popular among few sports enthusiasts coming mostly from elite sections. It took a long time for it to become a popular sport around the later part of 20th century. The world of cricket then was dominated by England, Australia and West Indies. The Indian team starting as ‘underdogs’ began to challenge the established hierarchy and showed sparks of mastery through pioneering athletes such as M A K Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar, Farouk Engineer, Ajit Wadekar. Pakistan, a part on undivided India until 1947, shared this legacy of beginning the journey of cricket together with India. This made practically 5/6 teams eligible to be playing international cricket. The teams in Indian subcontinent will play one season of cricket either at home or abroad with one of the three international teams. 

Then came 1983 when the Indian cricket team under the captainship of Kapil Dev won for the country a great new honor by winning the World Cup. This saw emergence of a new breed of young cricketers coming of age and confident and determined to challenge its underdog image. While it took another 28 years for India to repeat such performance and win the World Cup – the sport had meanwhile become extremely popular – being played in various format and form across any open ground and even street corners.

In 2008, India launched its Indian Premier League – consisting of 10 teams who bought franchise for the same. The teams begun bidding for popular domestic and international players and playing cricket became a sought after profession among aspiring youth of the nation. In 1976, India formed its women cricket team who started to participate in international arena. 

Cricket, today in India therefore has taken the form of almost a religion. What has led to this popularity of the game unlike any other? Since the beginning, India has produced many cricketing legends such as B.S Bedi, G. Vishwanath, Sanjay Manjrekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and even the “God of Cricket” Sachin Tendulkar. What made them such stars and what was their contribution to Indian cricket?

To get to know answers to these and many others stay tuned and read my next article----------:)

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Unravelling the Secret to University Admits

How amazing would it be if students were to know the secret behind getting admits from the Top Universities? We could just list out the SOPs for all the top universities and a student could just follow it and land into his/her dream university.

But one rule does not apply to all and just as each child is unique, so is the admission process for these universities.

What does the admission profile of a Harvard admit or a one from CMU look like? What scores are needed to get into Cornell or Berkley; Should I engage in more co-curricular activities or internships? These are few of the mind wrecking questions going on inside a teenager's mind and he thinks- Do I dare to Dream?

Universities are looking for candidates who are at the top of their class, are curious, are ready to take risks and are creative, open to collaborate with others, inspire others, and can strike a balance between their work and pleasure.

Getting into a top university does seem to be a daunting task.

Let's not forget that these are just 17-18 years old who have the passion, the energy, and the drive to follow their dreams; the only thing required is the right guidance and the right direction. They are still wet clay, and these universities can mould them into responsible, innovative, conscientious citizens ready to change the world into a better place.

So, here is a break-down of what the Universities want:

  1. Academics: Importance of good academics cannot be emphasized enough. Academics was and will always be the first steppingstone to your dream University. Even though it may sound cliché, but grades do matter. Grades are what will take you past the first set of filters. And they need to be pretty much consistent. So, your grades from Class 9 onwards are definitely what will set you apart. Another point to ponder- is that the grades in all your subjects should be above average because getting an above average grade in a subject which you do not like just shows your perseverance and resilience.

    1. Test Scores: This reflects that you are ready to go the extra mile by enrolling for rigorous course work in addition to the basic requirement of SAT, that means doing those Advance Placement exams. Taking an AP exam in a subject not related to your degree shows your drive to learn something new that you may have an interest in but do not necessarily want to make a career out of it. As an International Student, even though you may have studied in a school where the medium of instruction is English, it is prudent to appear for the English Language test to prove your proficiency in the same. The test scores are what will take you past the second set of filters. Remember, Academics is an extremely important component of your application.

  2. Non-Academics: This is vast and involves a lot of parameters. Through this, the admissions committee can understand you as a person, what motivates you and what makes you the perfect fit for the university.

    1. Extracurriculars: the name itself signifies activities which are not part of the school curriculum. So, it can be anything from Sports, to Music, Drama, Competitions, and maybe even Writing. The list is endless. It could be an activity you are good at, have been pursuing it for a consistent period, may have taken part in few competitions; you could have been the captain of a team or just participated in school dramatics. What is important is that it should show your deep interest in the activity, how that activity has helped you as a person by, developing the qualities of co-operation, leadership and so on.
      Focus on ‘Quality over Quantity', think ‘Unique'. Remember, the key is that your interest in the activity is genuine and not something you want to show on the application. Do not forget, we are dealing with the Top Universities, and they are at the top for a reason. The applications are vetted against the best standards. A clear and clean approach is the best way forward.

    2. Community Service: Another aspect to understanding you as a person is by looking at any community services that you may have undertaken. The idea is that the world needs more people with empathy and sensitivity, and your education at the -university is also to help you in the process of becoming a socially responsible citizen. Hence the university's admission criterion is to look for candidates who are socially responsible, empathetic, and ready to inspire people around them.
      This can be something as simple as looking after a senior citizen in your society, delivering groceries and medicines to those who were confined to their homes during COVID, creating awareness about hygiene or taking steps towards protection of the environment. The world will not change in a day, but we can definitely make it better bit by bit and this is what the Universities wants to see, 'The kind of students who want to make life better for all Humankind.'

  3. Work Experience/Internships: A very simple question usually asked by parents is – How would Internships help my child? He is just a kid. And it is a very valid question too. So, let's understand what Universities assess from these internships? The internships show the universities how well the student adapts to a work environment, how he can meet deadlines, co-operate with his seniors, and work under a bit of pressure. Since the idea is to see the students' adaptability to the work environment, the internship can be in any area. Of course, if the internship is in the area he wants to study in, it stands out as it shows that the student is keen to experience how his prospective course will be applicable in a real-world scenario.

  4. Letters of Recommendation: A testimony to your achievements as a student not only for your grades, but also for your qualities as a person - is the letter of recommendation. Your recommender could be a teacher who may have known you for many years, who can vouch for your performance, your values, your future potential, and in short can be able to write about your personality. Therefore, it is sensible to go with a teacher who knows you well than one in whose subject you perform well. The recommendation should be authentic and not driven by what you want to showcase!

  5. Essay: Here lies the opportunity for you to demonstrate what you may have been unable to write about elsewhere in the application. This is the chance to show to the university the 'Real You', what drives you, your challenges, your aspirations, your strengths, and your weaknesses. For a teenager embarking on a new journey, who is a little nervous and, apprehensive, here is your chance to speak about your fears and how you overcame them, who were your idols, why you want to join a particular university and what has been the reason for choosing a particular course. Remember, the university knows you are just 18 or 19, so be real, be transparent and write it yourself because no one knows you better than yourself. Some Universities break their essay into short answer questions which are very specific but pretty much aimed at knowing you as a person. While others have introduced video essays to evaluate how students respond to unprepared situations. Questions are impromptu and students may be given some thinking time to write or narrate the responses within a time limit.

Though meeting the requirements of and fulfilling the criteria for securing admission at a top university may seem to be an uphill task, the key is to start early. Give yourself enough time to move forward in a systematic, organised manner. It is ideal to chalk out a road map before embarking on this exciting journey leading to an even more amazing destination- the University of your Dreams.

 

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Study in USA

United States of America (USA) continues to be the most advanced nation in the world. It’s robust economy is founded on a culture of research and innovation. Not only economically, but the country also leads the world in most areas of science and technology, management, art and culture. One of the greatest contributors to this all-round excellence has been the academic institutions and universities which over centuries have contributed to innovations and inventions. That makes study in USA a very attractive proposition. Consisting of more than 4000 colleges and universities offering this highly sophisticated academic system and its vibrant economy creating the most exciting professional opportunities, every year nearly 150000 foreign students come to study in USA from India alone. Therefore, while the answer to the question as to why study in USA may vary for individual students, attraction to study in USA continues to grow with every passing year. 

Beyond the academic edge, study in a foreign university also grooms a young person to develop many critical soft skills apart from an inclusive and global outlook.

Undergraduate Studies in USA

Given the outstanding research driven academic programs offered by many universities, study in USA for Indian students after 12th has become quite popular for a number of reasons. Some of the most sought-after programs for Bachelor’s study in USA are Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and various Management related programs. However, given the academic and research excellence of US universities in a broad spectrum of subjects, many students also go to study in USA for programs in liberal art such as Film Making, Communication and Design, or social sciences such as Economics, Law and Psychology. 

While International Baccalaureate (IB) is perceived to be the preferred route for study in USA for Indian students after 12th, there also are equal numbers who will come from other Indian school Boards such as ICSE or CBSE and even State Boards. Among the students who wish to pursue studies mainly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas, many also tend to attempt appearing for IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT- JEE). Since most IIT JEE coaching programs provide a 2 years’ integrated program with 12th Board examination preparation, some students prefer to pursue the Class XII studies in one of the State or CBSE Board. 

Therefore, whatever be your field of interest for Bachelor’s studies, US universities will offer you numerous excellent programs to choose from that match your needs. A degree from these universities can set you up to a very exciting global career in your chosen field.

It is very important to know that, while your academic grades in school carry the maximum weightage in evaluation of your application for admission, the universities in USA look to admit students who also display potential for leadership and other qualities that can contribute to an enriching collaborative learning environment on campus. Hence, you must take early steps to take up appropriate extra-curricular and other activities to develop and demonstrate such a rich and well-rounded profile.

Stanford University Logo Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

Master’s Programs in USA

Universities in USA invest a considerable amount of time and resources in research. Funded by federal government, their own sources or private businesses, this research focus enables these universities not only to be aware of emerging challenges and opportunities in the real world but also find innovative solutions. They are therefore able to create courses and programs and impart skills matching real world demands on a real time basis. These are some of the reasons why, relatively much larger number of students pursue their Master’s degree in USA in diverse fields of study to give that cutting edge to their professional careers. Given the wide variety of possible programs for Master’s in USA, a student ought to carefully choose one that meets his aptitude and career goal.

Studying MS in USA 

Historically, Indian students mostly went to study MS in USA. While this trend of studying MS in USA for Indian students began with large exodus of students from the IITs, over time this has become a very exciting option for students from many other colleges in India. It is claimed by some, that a significant part of the growth and innovations at the famed Silicon Valley has been contributed by these Indian students who did MS in USA and then began their professional career there. Being the hub of technological innovations, US universities continue to be the most sought-after places in the planet for MS studies. While the Ivy League universities such as MIT, Stanford, Harvard or UC Berkeley will be the best universities in USA for MS studies, there are a plethora of other excellent universities in USA for MS studies.   

Undergoing MS in USA from universities even among the top 20 or 30 ranks can give a student excellent quality of education and thereby open very exciting career opportunities. While each graduate program within a university can have independent ranking for study in USA, overall university ranking can still be the most important benchmark for choosing a university for study of MS in USA. For example, top universities in USA for MS in Computer Science will include most of the universities ranked among the top 20 and ranking of their Computer Science program will be near about the university rank. Even beyond the top 20, there will be many universities in USA for MS in Computer science that can suit an individual candidates’ requirements and profile. A degree of MS in Computer Science in USA is in high demand as it opens career opportunities in the fastest growing technology areas of complex programming, artificial intelligence, and its related fields. After an MS in Computer Science in USA, one can also work in areas of Data Science and cutting-edge areas of Quantum Computing. Other popular MS courses in USA among the engineering students are Mechanical Engineering, Electronic or Computer Engineering and multidisciplinary areas of Environmental Engineering. For those aspiring to study MS in Mechanical Engineering in USA, you will have opportunities to launch yourself into excellent careers in Robotics or Space Technology. 

We are now in the beginning of what is coined as “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” driven by many breakthrough technologies. That makes investment in STEM education pivotal to opening highly challenging and lucrative career opportunities for a student and your study in USA can become a great differentiator. While historically study of MS in USA was concentrated around engineering and technology, other fields of study including Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Life Sciences have too now become popular among Indian students. The popularity of these programs owes it to breakthrough technologies of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution'' such as genome editing, materials based on nanotechnology and new approaches to governance based on blockchain technologies. The ongoing Covid 19 pandemic too has further fuelled huge interest and investments in Life Science, which is creating research focussed job opportunities after MS in USA in these areas of science. 

Given the wide range of programs designated as MS, it would however be misleading to curate a list of top universities in USA for MS studies. Further, the biggest advantage of studying MS in USA lies in having access to practical research activities. For this, having a vibrant research and development eco-system around the university can be of immense advantage. This can have a significant impact in identifying the top universities in USA for MS studies for a specific type of program.

Irrespective of the specific MS is USA program one might be applying for, the best universities will expect you to demonstrate sufficient evidence of your interest and experience through your project and other work, in the subject of your choice. So, if you plan to pursue MS in USA, your preparation for that ought to begin much in advance of actual application. This can dramatically improve your chances of entering highly sought-after universities and programs.

Master’s Programs in Management and Finance

Beyond STEM, other very popular Masters’ programs in USA are those in the field of management. MBA has been the default program for graduate studies for management. This is a highly competitive program opening mid-level career opportunities in marquee global consulting, finance and investment banking, technology, and other companies. Applying for an MBA program in a reputed management school requires thorough preparation to enhance your CV profile. It is desirable that you prepare at-least 18 months prior to actual application. That will give you sufficient time to not only prepare for your GMAT but also take necessary steps to cover the gaps in your application. 

Most reputed management schools in USA expect the MBA applicants to have had 5-6 years of prior work experience. Therefore, a shorter duration program designated as Master’s in Management, Master’s in Global Marketing or MS in Management has become popular among students with limited or no prior work experience. Of these the MS in Management program which typically has significant quantitative courses in the curriculum offers certain advantages comparable to usual MS in USA studies which offers a longer duration to work in USA after graduation based upon student visa. Named Optional Practical Training (OPT), this opportunity to work for the defined period is a critical feature for all foreign students who want to find a suitable job in that country and leverage their excellent academic qualification in the best possible way. For those not keen in quantitative methods but interested in qualitative aspects of branding, communication and other strategic areas, Master’s in Marketing in USA will be a good option to explore. 

USA, centered on New York City is the heart of the world’s financial markets. This attracts many students to study Master’s in Finance in USA to eventually look for opportunities to work in the investment banking, private equity or other corporate finance positions. If one wishes to study MS in Finance in USA one should be comfortable in analytical subjects and ideally look for a STEM designated program. Alternatively, to study in USA with a specialization in Finance, one can also explore a general Master’s program or MBA program and seek concentration in Finance. Many high-ranking universities including Columbia or Chicago Booth or many others although lower in ranking, provide such flexibility in structuring one’s academic plan with desired concentration. Studying MS in Finance in USA will not only educate one to the entire range of theory and tools in Finance, but also provide a lot of opportunities for experiential learning through internships and project activities. Therefore, studying for a Master’s in Finance in USA will prepare a student to find excellent work opportunities in this big and exciting sector of money and finance.

Preparing to Study in USA

Your preparation to study in USA should begin early. For an undergraduate applicant we would recommend you prepare as early as Class IX - as Class X tends to become academically very demanding. This gives you enough time to take up many extracurricular and community activities to help you create a profile considered desirable by the admission committee. Except for the past two batches of intake in Fall 2021 and 2022 (due to Covid 19 pandemic), a minimum requirement for study in USA for an undergraduate student has always been SAT and TOEFL/IELTS. You should ideally complete your SAT during your Class XI leaving you with enough time to concentrate on many other requirements amidst your busy academic preparation for Class XII/ IB Board examinations.

The minimum requirement for Master’s in USA is GRE or GMAT depending on the program and TOEFL/ IELTS. While many universities waived GRE/GMAT requirements due to the pandemic – a good GRE/GMAT score is always a plus while seeking admission to the best universities. Similar to the undergraduate application, an applicant for a Master’s in USA too needs adequate time to build the right profile centred on academic and professional skills.

Cost of Study in USA

Cost of studying in USA has two components viz. the tuition fee payable to the university and student living expenses for lodging and food. The living expenses for a student will vary between US$ 500-700 per month depending on the nature of accommodation and location. The tuition fee however will have a wide range from US$ 30000 – 50000 per year for an undergraduate program. On an average, a student will require to spend about US$ 120000 - 200000 over a 4 years’ Bachelor’s program in a reputed US university. The fees for a Master’s program will vary between US$ 25000 - 40000 per year, depending on the program and the university. While a state university will have a lower fee structure, the private universities and the Ivy League’s will be on the higher bracket. Typical MS fees in USA in a college in the top 20 ranks will be between US$ 40000 - 60000 per year.  Therefore, the overall cost of MS in USA running over 4 semesters will be about US$ 80000 - 120000. The same for a one-year Master’s in management program will range between US$ 35000 - 75000. 

Most universities provide scholarships to study in USA to attract brighter students. Many of our students over the years have managed to receive scholarships for both under-graduate and graduate studies, reducing the burden of funding. Scholarships for MS in USA is offered usually in the form of partial fee waiver. The scholarships are generally awarded in the early part of the admission cycle. Therefore, to improve your chances of getting scholarships for MS in USA, or for any other program - we recommend the students to complete their application process before the end of November.

Why Choose Lesli

Study in USA is not only expensive but also can have a defining impact on your career and life. Guided by our broad expertise on the areas of academics, skills, and career we can objectively guide you to choose the best program and university. Based on more than 15 years of experience of our counsellors who have successfully guided 1000s of students to study in USA, we at Lesli are committed to help you achieve the best admits and thereby chart a successful and exciting journey. Not only that, but most of our students have also received scholarships ranging from 10-100% of the tuition fees. We will help you structure and enhance your profile and guide you to make the best application, prepare you for your interviews and be with you until you receive your student visa.

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