Life in a Foreign University: How I got admission in MS Cybersecurity at Pace University USA

(This letter is part of a series by The Indian Express where we bring to you the experiences of students at different foreign universities. From scholarships and loans to food and cultural experiences — students tell us how life is different in those countries and things they are learning other than academics)

It was my dream to study Master’s degree in the United States of America ever since I was pursuing my graduation from Savitribai Phule Pune University. I am Mayuri Khed and this is my story. I completed my graduation with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in the year 2020. I planned on beginning my preparations right away but then the greatest pandemic struck, putting the entire world at risk and I felt that my dream would never come true. But, my parents became my pillars of strength and encouraged me to study during the pandemic and apply for a Master’s degree. During this time, I chose not to sit idle and instead worked for Birlasoft as a software developer for 1.8 years.

While working as a software developer, I began studying for the entrance exams required to pursue my master’s degree. I always knew what I wanted to study and which stream to choose. I always wanted to work in cyber security. However, I wasn’t sure which university I should apply to and how. I started my research with universities that offered a complete degree in cyber security rather than just a major. As a part of my research, I attended career fairs which provided me with a thorough understanding of what courses universities offer to students and how they provide them.

Why did I choose Pace University?

After thorough research, I shortlisted a few universities that I felt were relevant to my field of study. I applied to three institutes but my hopes were stuck on Pace University, as it matched all my expectations and the factors I took into consideration for masters. To begin with, Pace University’s cyber security department is funded by the National Science Foundation. With funding of $3.8 million, they provide robust practical skills to their students. Second, it has its Women in Cyber Defense programme, which encourages female department candidates to attend various conferences, workshops, and other events. This was more appealing to me because I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible from this degree.

After my research was completed, I applied to Pace University in December and fortunately received a final decision within 20 days. My dream was finally taking shape into reality. I was even offered a scholarship by the university which was the cherry on the cake for me.

The documents that were required to complete the admission process were:

–Statement of purpose – explaining why you would like to study this course, your ambitions, etc.
–Academic marksheets – 10th, diploma, and engineering.
–Transcripts – diploma and engineering
–Letter of recommendations – from previous college professors and employers (if working).
–Test of English as a Foreign Language score.
–Proof of extra-curricular activities.

The USA vs Indian universities: How pedagogy is different?

Many people including my family and friends asked me why I did not pursue my masters in India and why I wanted to go to the States. Universities in India offer a Master’s degree in computer science with cyber security as a major subject, however, there are very few universities that offer the degree but they are not world-class. The universities in the USA have world-class reputations when compared to technological advances. Obtaining a degree here is highly regarded in India, as students get extensive hands-on experience. Here, they have world-class research labs and forensics labs where we can get our hands dirty with various research projects.

Despite the fact that school education in India is very comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics, I believe there is a need to place a greater emphasis on activities like stressing more on practical implementation rather than only focusing on theoretical knowledge.

Travel, learn and experience this country

When it comes to culture, India and the United States are diametrically opposed. I live in New York, the city that never sleeps, there is always something to do or places to visit. On weekends, I frequently visit nearby places to unwind from my hectic academic schedule. The only thing I have trouble finding here is vegetarian food. However, if I go to Indian Street in Jersey City, I have a variety of options. Apart from that, I enjoy being here, am looking forward to the snow, and am eager to travel and explore the country as much as possible.

Although I don’t have a part-time job at present, but I will start looking for one in the following semester. I mostly prepare my meals at home. I budget the money I receive from my parents for costs. I took an education loan for my Master’s.

Speaking of extracurricular activities, I’ll be joining the Pace International Students Association, which will greatly increase my exposure in this country. According to my experience, one should be certain of the field in which they wish to pursue a career before making a firm decision. Because masters is something you want to master and make a career out of. I’d like to encourage everyone to pursue their dreams and work hard to turn them into reality.

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