The WT Group is back again with this thoughtful article from Minoti Sahu. Minoti is a young Engineer working at AMD in Austin. In the article the author discusses education, values, and the differences in perception in this country as compared to home. In this country, if a young student wants to study in a college either he gets a scholarship (which is as rare as moral values in Indian politics), or he works his way through college, paying for his education by loans and then paying off the loan when you get a job.

Back home, things work in a different manner. Luckily for us, education is highly subsidised, so our parents can often pay for our education. Competition is very tough in colleges and one HAS to work hard to succeed. There are questions in the mind of the author whether Indian parents here would encourage their children to work (like other American students) to pay for their college. Lets see what the author has to say.

I have appended my views on this topic at the end of the article.

Personal Profile of the Author

Minoti Sahu:

I grew up in Kharagpur, finished my high school there. Got a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Regional Engineering College, Rourkela. Went on to get my Master's in Computer Engineering from Virgina Tech. Moved to Texas, and am now working as a Product Development Engineer at Advanced Micro Devices, in Austin.

Email: minoti@imes.com

Education and Values and Money

According to the old saying In Rome, live like the Romans, it would mean that in US we should live like the Americans. But it does not work that way. What most of us try to do is retain the old customs and traditions from back home and try to adopt the good from the American culture. At least I think that is how it should be. Which leads to what I am about to discuss in this article.

Growing up in India, many of us come from homes where our families paid for our education. The only thing we had to worry about during student life is to get good grades, then go on to a career and thereby become self-sufficient. We just had to study. Also people who work menial jobs are looked down upon, or society is shocked to see someone work as a waiter. There is no incentive and expectation for a student to work his way through school.

Having gone to school in the States, I have come across many young people who start out their education with a big loan. Maybe their parents are wealthy enough to pay for their education, but more often than not the financial help extended by the parents is only partial. One of the ideas behind this structure is that the children should learn the value of money and that they do from quite an early age. This also helps them become quite independent and I think in any situation better able to take care of themselves. Also a self-made man does get more respect in the world.

The advantage of not having to worry about working through school is that a person has more time to spend on his studies and extra-curricular activities and thereby has a greater chance of getting better grades than a person having to split his time between jobs and studies. I don't know all the statistics but I think in the end there are an equal number of successful people in both categories.

Now for the thought. I think there are several of us out there was education was paid for most of the time. Living in this country would you let your child go out and work his way through school so that he realises that education does not come easily and inexpensively and thereby teach him a valuable lesson on how important it is to be independent and hard- working. Or if you have the means and since your education was paid for, and you want your child to have as much and more than yourself, you would pay for his schooling all along the way just to make it easier for him and let him learn about independence and self-sufficiency when his schooling is done and he has to start living his life by himself.

Editor's Comments

My thoughts about this matter vary a litle from that of the author. It is not always true that there is no incentive and expectation for students to work in India, or that their education is always paid for, and they do not bother about it. They are expected to work harder, though in a different way. We have to work very hard to do well in our studies. There are not enough jobs for under-achievers. There are thousands of Engineers in India who do not have jobs. There are a lot of students who work hard to try and get scholarships to fund our studies. The work is not manual labor, but hey, it is hard work. Anyway, they are working to pay for their education, does it matter whether they are doing it by cleaning dishes or by studying hard?

I think its a matter of perception. Often it depends on the values that the parents inculcate in their children. I can tell from personal experience that it works. My parents always told me that they cannot afford to pay a donation for me to get admission into an engineering school and I have to work hard to do well and go to a good school. They encouraged me and gave me the challenge to work hard to get scholarships to pay for my education. A lot of people do it. And it works. The concept of working while studying does not exist in India. The competition is so tough that if I spend 20 hrs a week working part-time, then I will flunk all my exams. However, in this country things are different. Everyone does it, so why won't you? I have done it and I am proud that I did not spend any of my parents hard-earned money towards my education.

It all depends on you as parents to shape the future of your parents. They will do whatever you teach them to do. Honesty, self-sufficiency and hard-work are three of the best values you can inculcate in them. It is upto you to make them proud human beings. However, if nothing works, then I sure hope you are saving enough to help them through college.

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Your comments are always welcome...

Minoti Sahu

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