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Plan to study in US? Be prepared in all respects

Plan to study in US? Be  prepared in all respects
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Mohan Nannapaneni, president of TANA, opens up on education in the US and ways to steer clear of shady universities Purnima Sriram TANA (Telugu...

Mohan Nannapaneni, president of TANA, opens up on education in the US and ways to steer clear of shady universities

Purnima Sriram

PlanTANA (Telugu Association of North America), which has been addressing the needs of North American Telugu community in particular and Telugu people in general, is now focussed on meeting the diverse educational needs of students.

Previously, TANA was considered just a body meant for senior citizens. Given the gamut of its activities now, there is no segment of the Telugus that TANA doesn’t touch in more ways than one. One of the principal objectives of the association is to educate and enlighten Telugu youngsters about their language, its beauty and importance, says Mohan Nannapaneni, president of TANA. “Even the tagline on our logo says ‘Youth is our heritage’. We strongly believe that youth is our future. Many youngsters are with TANA because of its attractive features and the encouragement it gives to youth in respect of membership and leadership. Parents who send their children to the US advice them to first join TANA as it gives all the support and provides a family-like environment,” he says proudly.

On how TANA has helped students who fall prey to fraudulent activities of certain universities and even bogus universities, the president of the association says that it had played a major role in resolving issues. “We mediated between the American and Indian governments. We educated and counselled them. We spoke to four legal forums and gave them guidance. We even spoke to Union Minister SM Krishna and Indian ambassador to US Nirupama Roy in this regard. We helped them in approaching the American government legally and conveying their problems to United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We helped nearly 2,500 students gets seats in other universities,” he shares.

“There are two problems that students face when they come to America - they get lured by shady universities; and they are ignorant of American laws. To educate Indian students about these issues and foreign laws, we have formed four legal forums. We counsel them on how to select a university; their responsibilities after joining the varsity; the rules that should be followed for studying there; and the permits while working and studying. We have formed a committee for NRI students. We show them the right path through the committee and give them vision of what kind of university it is and the role of the student in the varsity,” he conveys.

Along with friend Dr Chowdhary Jampala, he came up with a 10-page document that creates awareness among students in many universities across the United States, mainly through the International Students Union. “Earlier, we used to think about our financial background before we planned to go abroad, but the trend has changed. Now, there is a misconception among the students that once they step inside the country, they can manage to survive. They should be ready financially before they land in America,” he advises.

“If a student has to do Masters here, he/she has to spend nearly Rs 50 lakh and Bachelors courses are far more expensive. Students have to spend more than Rs 1 crore to pursue Bachelor’s course here. They think that they can do part-time jobs and earn their living, which is wrong. Earlier, there was not much of unemployment and thus getting good part-time jobs was not difficult. But now, for the first time in history, unemployment is an issue in America. Getting good part-time jobs is very difficult. As per University permit, they can only work for 20 hours a week. They think the authorities of the university are not watching them and do things illegally. With unemployment making the Americans and NRIs having sleepless nights, students end up choosing risky jobs,” he opines.

He wants students to know even minute details about a university before joining it. Students should have a sound financial background before thinking of studying overseas. They should have insurance. “Not just the Tri-valley University, University of Northern Virginia (UNGA) and Herguan University in California; but, according to sources, there 15 to 20 more universities which are in the same process. Students also fall prey to these universities by thinking that these universities will let them work for more hours by being lenient, but with such universities closing down, the future of students enrolled there is becoming a question mark. We come here with our parents’ lifetime savings, so we should keep in mind the accreditation of the university and should abide by the laws. We should ensure that our education is valued and recognised,” he shares with concern.

There is always a comparison between the Indian and the American education system. On this, he says that at the Bachelor’s level, India offers the best education in a good environment at low cost. When it comes to Masters, it is the US that offers the best. “In US, it’s research-based with good infrastructure. MIT and Harvard Universities have received the highest number of awards. They have 36,000-dollar endowments which is very helpful for a student to carry out researches. They have university sponsorship programmes. It’s all research-oriented programmes there,” he adds.

About racism and language barrier, he says, “Nowadays, students are more fluent in English than in Telugu. As America is a country with diversified immigrants, they understand if we cannot speak English properly. There is no question of racism. Had there been any racism or discrimination on nationality, I wouldn’t have rose to this level. The rules are stringent in the US and every person who resides there should abide by the rules,” he affirms.

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