"Education is all about constructing questions and probing for the answers"

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"Education is all about constructing questions and probing for the answers"

Are you mentoring your students and often find yourself tackling questions about admissions in American colleges?  Edu-Leaders caught up with Dr. Chuck Zercher to get an answer to the most common admissions related questions. He also throws light on the University of New Hampshire.

Education in America is a dream for many Indian students and with many new universities and more information available the students have more options than ever. But, is the Indian student ready to look beyond the Ivy League? Dr. Chuck Zercher, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the college of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of New Hamphire talks to Edu-Leaders and burst many myths about the placements of state colleges in US and the admissions process. Zercher also throws light on the importance of research in higher education and how important it is to take education beyond the textbooks.

Excerpts from the chat:

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH

We all know research is important, and Chuck Zercher says it’s important at both the levels be it graduate or undergraduate. He tells us, “Research is important and education is not complete without it. Education is more than simply going through the textbooks and the lectures. It is all about constructing questions and probing for the answers. The students can apply their education to different disciplines only if you take their education beyond the classrooms.”

WHAT DOES THE ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE LOOKS AT

There is much curiosity surrounding the admissions process in the USA in the minds of the Indian applicants and their mentors. The Indian academicians, as well as the students often find themselves debating on what differentiates an Indian candidate from the American one and who exactly forms an admissions committee and what that committee looks at. Zercher tells us, “The admissions committee looks at the letters of recommendations and primarily the high school records for admission at the undergraduate level. It’s not just the grades that matter, but also the quality of courses taken and quality of their performance. Most important thing to understand is that when the college is selecting a student, the origin of the country doesn’t make a big difference. We look for the same attributes in the Indian students that we are looking for in their American counterparts. All schools promote diversity, but it’s never done at the cost of quality. If a student shows exceptional potential he will be accepted no matter where he comes from.” Talking about admissions in higher education Zercher adds, “For the post-graduate admissions the members of the concerned department go through the candidate’s applications, to see if the candidate fits in the class of that year. Also, good grades at the undergraduate level and work experience certainly helps the chances of the candidate.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF GRE

Most students in India and their advisors take the GRE in high regard. Many believe it can be a deal maker or a breaker. Here’s what Zercher has to say about it. “The importance of GRE differs from university to university. However, most universities when selecting a student look at a candidate wholly and GRE in most cases is just a piece of a very large process. A lot of importance is given on the student essays and letters of recommendations. Also, the admissions committee looks if a candidate will be a good fit for the class and also why the student is choosing the university and not any other,” says Zercher.

BIG GUNS vs THE SMALLER STATE UNIVERSITIES

An admission in Ivy League is a dream for most, but the education provided is not affordable or approachable for all. So, how do the students who don’t have the Ivy League stamp fair the job market? Zercher tells us, “Obviously having an Ivy League degree is a boon, but students from other colleges fair well too. Undergraduate engineering students at the University of New Hampshire give competition to the students from the most premier schools. By the time the students are finishing their programs 70 percent have already landed jobs.  The others who haven’t are the ones who haven’t started looking. Usually 90 percent of our undergraduate engineering graduates get placed in the first few months of passing out. At the end of the day employers are looking for students who have learned what they have been taught.”

WHY THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Zercher tells us that University of New Hampshire is an institute with a difference especially for the engineering students and here is why- “At the University of New Hampshire we have some very interesting programs at the undergraduate level like Bioengineering and Ocean engineering. Also, the Tier 1 National University holds a combination of Land, Sea and Space Grants and we are very proud of it. Also, we offer many scholarships and internship opportunities to our students to help them cover the cost of attendance. We would really love to have the Indian students on our campus.”

Says Chuck Zercher, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the college of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of New Hamphire as he talks about the importance of research, the American admissions process and what makes University of New Hampshire so special