Gen Next Education’s team of college counselors are seasoned professionals with deep knowledge in international university admissions. Our Team Spotlights provide a platform for our counselors to share a bit about themselves, what’s trending in the field of study abroad advising, and what sparked their passion for international education.
Ms. Bhumi Shah, based in Gujarat, India, is an member of our undergraduate advising team. She earned her MA and BA in Political Science and Economics, respectively, both from Gujarat University. Bhumi brings more than 12 years of professional experience coaching students and their families as they pursue their higher education dreams.
As Manager of College Counseling & Student Success, Bhumi provides undergraduate advising to students in across the globe. She also oversees Gen Next’s Campus Ambassador internship program and supports high schools in Western India with international education efforts.
I am grateful to Bhumi for taking the time to share her knowledge, insights, and give us a peek at who she is “away from the office”.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING AS GEN NEXT EDUCATION COUNSELOR?
For every student and their family, the transition from high school to college or university is a crucial and life-changing decision. The free, credible, and unbiased advising we offer allows families to make the best decision possible. It is a very satisfying experience for me to participate in and to be a helping hand along their journey. I love the roller coaster ride of unlearning and relearning in this journey as each student has a unique story to tell. To that, my work is enriched thanks to my colleagues and the many counselors and university reps I collaborate with. They inspire me every day with their commitment and passion to this ever-evolving global education space.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
With limited guidance on career goals during high school years, the majority of students struggle with self-reflection and assessing their strength areas. My work requires bursting popular myths, challenging stigma and rewriting narratives – each of which may hold a student back from finding their right-fit institution and the right institution is not always the brand name. I usually advise them to start with our Career Cruising assessment that we use as an advising tool and as a component of our Blueprint for Success curriculum. Then together we discuss their findings and analyze their career interests.
WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING ON THE GROUND?
There is a positive mind-shift in Indian students where they are exploring career possibilities and applying for programs other than medicine or engineering, such as Design, Political Science and Environmental Science. There is also a growing interest in educational opportunities in Canada, Germany, New Zealand or UK/Europe, and that is translating to a rise in applications to universities in those countries.
DID THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC (COVID-19) IMPACT YOUR WORK? IF SO, HOW?
When the global pandemic put the world on hold in 2020, it required various rounds of interactions and sensitive conversations. However, it was heartening to see the resilience of undergraduate students and their families. A majority of my students decided to go ahead with their dream institutions despite the uncertainty and obstacles the pandemic presented. It was challenging to not to be able to visit high schools to meet with counselors and students, however, the initiatives such as our Discovery Series, Thematic Webinars or connectED that the Gen Next team launched have proved to be game changers and helped many of our stakeholders with their requirements virtually.
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU GET ASKED MOST OFTEN BY YOUR ADVISEES – WHETHER PARENTS OR STUDENTS? HOW DO YOU RESPOND?
Out of many questions the families have, one question that is consistently becoming frequent is ‘How safe is University X or a particular country or location?’. The concern is valid for various study abroad destinations. However, most international universities provide on-campus security with on-call police presence and other safety services, so I encourage students and families to research about the safety solutions the university and the country is offering to international students and if possible, schedule a meeting with the representative to discuss the accommodation and safety concerns.
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE STUDENTS/FAMILIES BEGINNING THEIR STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY?
I advise students to take the entire process of studying abroad seriously and as a responsibility to work hard and to advance their skillset as it also prepares them for the forthcoming life changes. Research about the opportunities, take up internships, be more self-aware, connect and network with people, ask questions and importantly have faith in their dreams. Our newly launched platform connectED is a great way to kick-start your university research.
WHAT DO STUDENTS AND PARENTS OFTEN FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY APPLICATION PROCESS? HOW DO YOU HELP THEM OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE?
The thousands of universities and hundreds of programs available at international universities can also make the process of finding a selection of ‘right-fit’ universities and academic programs very challenging for the students and families. We go through several rounds of conversations to set basic parameters for research and narrow down the institutions.
Students often struggle with the essay portion of the application. Not all universities require it, but many do, and helping students develop the skills to craft a highly compelling essay is an important part of my work. I share writing tools, discuss their answers, and proofread their essays. Together we build writing skills that help them in their study abroad goals but also, I hope, for their future.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO A STRANGER?
I recently read Digital Minimalism by Cal New Port. For someone like me, who prefers using social media very objectively, the book provided meaningful insights and doable life hacks to be digitally minimalistic yet staying connected.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR STUDENTS TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?
I love to stay connected with my students even after they depart and join the university, love hearing their stories. I am proud of and inspired by their endeavors and achievements.
On another note, I draw ‘mandala’, which is a very healing and transformative process for me. Also, I love my two dogs!
THANK YOU, BHUMI!