Our Team Spotlights provide a platform for our team members to share a bit about themselves, what’s trending in the field, and what drives their passion for international education. Whether you are a student, a parent, a fellow educator, or professional in the international education industry, you’re bound to find something that connects to your interests.
Ms. Suman Nayak is part of our graduate advising team and works out of Bangalore. She holds a BE in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University. She also brings nine years of professional experience in international education.
In her fourth year at Gen Next, Ms. Suman counsels and guides prospective graduate students on all aspects of the study abroad application process and all the way through pre-departure. Her work also includes conducting workshops and informational sessions at colleges across India. With the restrictions resulting from Covid-19, the graduate team has not let that slow them down, shifting to virtual sessions and ramping up their one-on-one advising sessions with students via phone, WhatsApp, and Zoom.
Ms. Suman was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WORKING AS GEN NEXT EDUCATION COUNSELOR?
The fact that I am able to participate and provide encouragement during some vital challenges students face. Helping them sharpen their skills to navigate through the application process, and then watch them take what they have learned is what makes me feel gratified. This is what I love the most about my job.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
It’s very challenging to guide students who are hesitant to explore new opportunities and are closed to suggestions. To gently make them view things differently, is a task.
WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING ON THE GROUND?
Two things stand out to me. Firstly, I see a paradigm shift in the thought process of undergraduates regarding study abroad. It’s gained popularity and needless to say there is an increase in the number of students applying to universities abroad.
Secondly, although USA remains the top destination for higher education, students are actively looking at opportunities at other popular destinations like Australia, Europe and Canada. The popularity of the US really stems from the multitude of choices available to them–from choice of universities, choice of programs, cutting edge technology, choice of academic experience, and so on. But students are seeing advantages to other host countries. Factors that are drawing them to other host countries include affordability, visa success, as well as fewer barriers to admissions that you frequently see with US programs–like standardised testing requirements.
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU GET ASKED MOST OFTEN BY STUDENTS? HOW DO YOU RESPOND?
“Ma’am, Do you think I will receive an admit from popular X University with a low GPA and GRE score?”
My response is always: Wouldn’t you rather get an admit at a university for a right fit program, with ample opportunities for internship and assistantship? Breaking the attachment to a well-recognized university–even if it isn’t a good fit for the student or a possibility given their test scores, that’s an ongoing conversation.
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE STUDENTS/FAMILIES BEGINNING THEIR STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY?
I would encourage them to reframe their thinking when it comes to pursuing graduate study abroad. It is not a question of whether you can or cannot, but how to.
Students are largely doubtful of their own potential to crack the standardised tests. They feel intimidated about the application process, particularly crafting their statement of purpose. And, of course, they have plenty of questions on tuitions and affordability.
At Gen Next Education, through our counselling sessions, we infuse confidence in them about appearing for standardised tests, have discussions with them on the loan options available to make their study-abroad dream materialise.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO A STRANGER?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR STUDENTS TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?
That I actually enjoy reading and editing their documents and it’s not just my job. I love reading and writing. As a counselor, I have come across many students who are unsure or uncertain of their abilities. I have seen academically superior students dread writing a simple statement of purpose! It gives me enormous satisfaction to resurrect their confidence and impress upon them that it’s very simple and doable.
About the GNE Team: 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 bachelor, master and PhD levels. We support students all across India and the Middle East and across all stages of the application process. We are also liaisons to and extended team members for our university partners.