Gen Next Education’s India-based team is made up of seasoned professionals who specialize in counseling students (and families) seeking overseas degree programs at the bachelors, masters and PhD levels. We support students all across India and the Middle East, and serve as liaisons to and extended team members of our university partners. Our counselors’ knowledge of international education and admissions is vast and ever expanding, and our Spotlights provide a platform for them to share a bit about themselves, what’s trending, and what drives their passion for international education.
Ms. Sheela Thyagaraj heads up Gen Next’s Bangalore office and directs India operation. With staff across India and services that extend to the Middle East, she is critical to our on-the-ground strategy and coordination. She also spearheads graduate counseling efforts and facilitates internationalization opportunities for Indian universities. Though she specializes in counseling students on graduate programs, she is also well versed in the needs of high schools and students and families exploring bachelor’s programs, and has been known to pitch in for undergraduate initiatives.
Sheela brings many years of professional experience in international higher education to her role at Gen Next along with a Master’s degree(M.Sc) with a concentration in Family Resource Management Studies from Bangalore University.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING AS A GEN NEXT COUNSELOR?
I strongly believe that my profession chose me. My counseling sessions progress to a deeper bonding with students. A bonding that prompts them to reach out to me for advice on career and personal dilemmas as well. I particularly enjoy guiding students to set both academic and social goals for themselves. The satisfaction I derive from these experiences is what makes me love my job as a Gen Next Education Counselor the most.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
Ranking of universities is a huge challenge as most students remain focused on this aspect in shortlisting universities. Others fret about test scores, stressing over whether their scores will be sufficient to gain admission. Opening their eyes to the reality of their situation and breaking down those false assumptions regarding rankings or their own admissability, I believe, these are the most challenging aspect of my work.
WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING ON THE GROUND FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS?
Firstly, the co-op program (click HERE for an explanation of a co-op vs. an internship) has caught on in a big way. Universities offering this option are far more popular choices for students.
Secondly, students are seeking summer internship/research opportunities offered in universities across the globe while they are pursuing their undergraduate studies. The idea is to gain experience, build a strong profile and to continue in the same university for masters. More and more students applying to and entering graduate programs now and in the future are bring added experiences and skills that they would not have had in the past. This can, I think, only make for a higher quality of student and an overall richer learning environment.
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU GET ASKED MOST OFTEN BY STUDENTS? HOW DO YOU RESPOND?
“I believe that Ivy League schools can be a perfect launching pad for my career, and not just any other university. Can you help me prepare that perfect application packet?”
In my response, I try to help students understand that they don’t need to study at an Ivy League school to be successful in life. I tell them: Think beyond Ivy League schools. There are more than 4000 universities out there which can provide you with more than expected. Don’t limit yourself to Ivy League schools. Keep your options open.
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE STUDENTS/FAMILIES BEGINNING THEIR STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY?
Never stop asking questions. Clarity comes through questioning. Ask as many as you can. At Gen Next we love the curious student and are more than happy to field quesitons.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO A STRANGER?
Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR STUDENTS TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?
That fashion is my passion.
That I am not as young as they think I am. 😉
And that I learn so much from my students everyday–about their lives, their hopes and dreams, and about the emerging trends in our field. They are a wellspring of knowledge and always a source of motivation for me.
THANK YOU, SHEELA, FOR YOUR TIME AND YOUR INSIGHTS.