In conversation with the Veteran Consultant to USA -Usha Thyagarajan

By Aswani Dravid

Three years ago, a young bright girl from BITS Pilani went to a consultancy with her brilliant academic scores but a poor GRE score. She was encouraged by the consultancy to give the exam once more and improve her GRE score. Half heartedly she left the office, but informed the consultancy later that she got admission to some university in US through another consultancy which did not make an issue with her lower GRE scores.

What happened to this girl at the United States port of entry is an issue worth pondering. She was stopped by the immigration officers and while checking her certificates, they asked her, “When you are eligible to go to Stanford, why opt for such a lower grade university?”

Long story short, she came back crying to India.

I don’t know this girl personally. But I met the founder of the consultancy she approached at first. Here is the excerpt from my meeting with Usha Thyagarajan, this veteran consultant from Hyderabad.

Usha Thyagarajan – Veteran consultant from Hyderabad.

The deportation of hundreds of Telugu students from US port of entry despite having a valid Visa made me curious to study the issue and hence I flew to Hyderabad and met Usha. Here are some excerpts from the interview and a valuable perspective in understanding the whole deportation issue.

Q: All the 200 students who were deported were from Telugu speaking land; Andhra and Telengana. Is there any specific reason to it?

A: Yes. Nearly 80 % of the Indians in US are telugites. Parents of these students are the primary reason for this trend. It is a fashion here to say, ‘My son is in US’. What he does there is not a relevant question. Because of this, boys and girls have a fad for it and in the marriage market they specifically look for US settled persons. The daughters won’t get married if they don’t get a job/admission in US!

Hence there are definitely forces in society ready to explore this crazy psyche. But now students will understand that it is not a joke. I hope they take up their primary homework about potential colleges seriously.

Q: But why this bulk deportation suddenly? What you think are the reasons?

A: It was very difficult to get a visa to US earlier. There is a temple here named Chilkor Balaji, which is popular by the name ‘Visa Balaji.’ It is believed that if you do some rituals there, the American visa will be granted in a jiffy. But now, the procedures have been made liberal and since 2 years everyone who applies for visa has been getting it.

This deportation trend started towards the end of 2015. Some documents were randomly checked and 2-3 students were sent back at the port of entry first, but then they were sent back in groups.

Q: There were wide spread reports that these students did not fulfill the parameters needed to join the US universities. Is it true? What are the parameters needed?

A: The students should have a score of more than 80 % in academics and a GRE score of more than 6.5 to join any course. I don’t encourage applications without the minimum of these scores. I don’t know about the deported students. But most of the students who approach us for admissions don’t check anything about the colleges or their courses.

Q: What is the role of consultancies in this whole procedure?

A: It is very minimal. We assist them in selecting a University or a course and also help them in filling applications. But some consultancies have tie-up with universities in US and they don’t bother about the scores. If someone without minimum grade comes to me, I ask them to go and improve the scores, but some consultancies take them in. The poor students do not understand that without good scores, their selection process is restricted.

Q: What is the most sought after course in US?

A: Computer Science, mostly for Masters. It is mainly because IT field is highly paid and it is easy to get jobs in US.

Q: From your 20 years of experience in the field of consultancy, do you have any message to future students?

A: Everyone does extensive research before choosing a school or college in India. Shouldn’t you do the same when you go to a foreign country? At least from now, take the selection process seriously. Do proper homework about universities, before applying. This is a learning lesson for all. Don’t approach consultancies by saying, “you do anything, but send me to US”.

About the Author

AswaniAswani Dravid

Aswani is currently doing her Ph.D in Maritime Security with the University of Kerala. She has experience as a freelance journalist in the media for four years. Her research background and focus on community collaboration has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. Trained in academics and journalism, she constantly probes into the causes and effects of events that we face as a society, through her writing.