Preparing Your Child for an International Education – The Early Years

By | Gen Next Student Advising, Parent Coaching

If you have a child, without a doubt you have spent at least some time worrying about his or her education—which school should you enroll them in, what extracurricular programs will help them develop themselves better, which careers and subjects should they be preparing for, etc.  As counselors, we get calls from parents of children starting as young as 10-years-old asking what the best way would be to “prepare them for the future.” Of course, there’s no blueprint for how you should raise your child to “be the best,” but there are things you can keep in mind as you are nurturing your child through their teens towards the crucial decision-making moments, especially if you are considering an international education for them.

Why should students considering an international education prepare differently than other students? THEY SHOULDN’T.  In reality, ALL students should be following the advice presented below.  But as it happens, the Indian Higher Education system prizes assessment results and percentages when allotting seats for high quality university placements. In trying to accomplish this gargantuan task (i.e. scoring high enough on Board exams and placement exams to gain admission into a top university in India), students seldom have the freedom of time or resources to implement the advice below.  For a student considering an International Education, however, it is crucial for them to step away from the textbooks and tuitions occasionally and dive into the real world to challenge themselves and explore the world around them in a meaningful way.

Universities outside of India, especially those that are top destinations for Indian students, such as the US, Canada, and the UK, value BALANCE. They want to admit applicants who are not only strong academically, but who have personality, passion, and a drive to learn and explore.  In keeping with these goals, we should aim to foster these qualities in young students. Here’s how we should do that and why.

Students Need to READ and WRITE with Ease

Language is such a big part of not only admissions tests (TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, ACT), but also for students’ success during the application process and once they get to college.  Students entering college will be asked to write essays, analyze texts, and express themselves in writing again and again. We find that those students who love to read, read for fun, or have done ample amounts of free writing throughout their high school years actually have a much easier time with the transition out of high school and into college.  Those who don’t, often struggle with their application essays, and that reflects in the outcome of their admissions in the long run.

Students Should Engage in MEANINGFUL Out-of-Classroom Experiences

One of the major questions students will have to answer in their international college applications is “WHY DO YOU WANT TO STUDY THIS SUBJECT?” Too often, student responses include “because I am good at it,” or “because that’s what my parents want me to do.” Unfortunately that’s not enough to convince a university that the student is going to be successful in and passionate about that subject once they actually begin to pursue it. For example, a student who wants to become a doctor, but who has never set foot in a hospital, interviewed a doctor, or demonstrated an interest in helping others, cannot possibly know that medicine is the field for them.  Similarly, a student who wants to become a researcher should already be viewing the world through that lens throughout their high school years, conducting ad hoc experiments and applying the scientific method to their everyday lives. This is the kind of passion and immersion students need during their formative high school years in order to really understand themselves and their goals better. And international universities will want to see that the student has taken advantage of these opportunities around them, or in the case of those who are exceptionally motivated, created those opportunities for themselves.  Hence, in the early years, it is the parents’ responsibility to allow their child to explore, explore, and explore.  Give them ample opportunities to experience things outside of the classroom and encourage them to dig deeper and find those things that they are most passionate about. These experiences will help the student not only make a sound choice about their field of study, but also give them fodder for their admissions interviews and essays.

Consider a Career Planning Curriculum

One of the ways international high schools prepare their students for college and career is by implementing a supplementary curriculum that allows students to engage in self-discovery activities and career exploration assessments.  Traditionally, Indian high schools do not offer such curriculums because the local college admissions systems do not demand it. However, Gen Next Education, in our interactions with Indian high school students over the past decade, have realized that there is, in fact, a need.  Because there are so many more college options opening to Indian high school students, and because the current system does not provide many quality education options for the students who do not place at the top, it is important for Indian students to develop a more creative and global career map for themselves. This is why we have introduced Blueprint for Success (read more about the program through this link), which is a supplementary curriculum now being implemented in Indian high schools to students in grades 8-11. Our hope is that students who engage in this curriculum will have a much clearer progression towards their future college and career, regardless of whether they decide to study in India or pursue an education abroad.

NYU grad student says thanks

By | Gen Next Student Advising

“The process of applying for a masters degree is a long and tedious one. There are a lot of tests to prepare for, a lot of research to find colleges which match our interests and preparing the statement of purpose and other relevant application material for each individual college. Furthermore, students are plagued with countless questions in each stage of the process. Gen Next provides counselling in each stage of the application process. They clear all questions students have during the application process and give advice on how to proceed forward. Moreover, the review sop’s and give tips on how to improve them. Not to mention, everything they do is for free! while other counselling institutions charge an absurd amount of money, Gen Next provides counselling free of cost. Special thanks to Sheela Thyagaraj who built this confidence in me and guided me throughout . I would recommend Gen Next to every student who aspires to study abroad.”

-Mohammad Affan
NYU Tandon School Of Engineering
Computer Science

Letter from a Grateful Parent

By | Uncategorized

Who will guide you and your family through the study abroad advising process? Part of what makes Gen Next different and stand out is our incredible team of dedicated advisors. Here is what one parent had to say about Sheela, Director of our Center for Global Education (Reprint here with permission):

Hi Sheela,

I just wanted to put in some words which I feel would come close to my experience in working closely with you as my go-to person @ Gen Next who facilitated the guiding sessions for my son (Nitya) who has greatly benefitted from the association and is finally going to IUPUI (Indianapolis) for his Bachelors in Computer Engineering.

As an advisor you have always delivered and provided us the answers and solutions required. I had contacted you multiple times during the last few months sometimes even after the close of business for a problem I was facing and you were able to give me very helpful advice and information, demonstrating that you are clearly an expert in the field. I always found it a pleasure to communicate with you who goes above and beyond, both in terms of work and in terms of thinking creatively about a problem to come up with solutions that will help the students to succeed.

My highly favorable view of Gen Next as an organization was largely influenced by my interactions with you, as your communication and follow up were consistent and demonstrated great initiative. Sheela you are a true professional. It was a true pleasure working with you, Sheela.

Thanks & look forward to your continued support.

Warm regards,

Anuranjan Gautam

Are students transferring to universities abroad?

By | Gen Next Student Advising

Students in India typically start as a freshman, first-year bachelor’s student abroad or they wait to pursue a master’s degree abroad. However, it is possible and sometimes advantageous to look at becoming a transfer student. Transfer student scholarships tend to be few, but they are out there. Then there is the question of whether or not courses will transfer without having to start all over. The process of transferring can be complicated and seem overwhelming, but in this student’s case, they used our free counseling services and are now bound for the University of Delaware this fall!

My name is Yusra Qureshi. I am 19 years old. I was a student at Ahmedabad University, pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Commerce. I decided to get a degree in communication, abroad. With no clue about the entire process of transitioning from my University here in India to a completely different educational institution overseas, I came in contact with Gen Next. My university counsellor recommended it to me. My experience with Gen Next has been wonderful. My counsellor, Bhumi has been more than helpful to me. She guided me throughout the process, right from searching for appropriate colleges and writing my SOPs to preparing me for my visa interview. She was always a call away. As of now, I am going to the US to study communication at University of Delaware. I couldn’t have done this without her help and guidance.

“Healthy Eating for College Students” (Part 3 of 4)

By | Parent Coaching

Top 5 Healthy Habits for College Students

A Healthy college life is not a myth but a Reality. Today as we continue on with the series – and now that we have tackled the WHY’s – it’s time to get the HOW’s shorted out.

Sharing with you some of the BEST practices for a Healthier college life – As your children make their way to college, share with them these five modest yet significant habits that will help them stay healthy on the campus.

1) Keep yourself hydrated at all times:

Keeping oneself hydrated is a big challenge among college children. So the best way to overcome this challenge is to start your day with a glass or two of water and make sure to drink water every hour to keep yourself hydrated at all times.

2) Gift yourself a Healthy start each morning:

Before you head out for your lectures, make a conscious effort to eat a nutritious Breakfast- high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean protein. This will not only enhance your mental abilities but also deliver a constant supply of energy to your brain by balancing the sugar levels in your body.

3) Stay energized at all times:

Yet another important aspect of healthy diets is to make sure to eat proteins (milk and milk products, eggs, nuts and meats, chicken and fish, beans) in all your meals because proteins digest slowly thereby stabilizing blood sugar levels. This helps you to stay energized and prevents mood swings.

4) Healthy snacking is in your hands:

In between snacks is a challenge for many children during their study times. Often children are found eating foods like chips and cookies. Make healthy choices when it comes to snacking is what needs to be done. Dried fruits (unsalted) over chips, carrot and cucumber sticks over French fries, fresh fruits over fried snacks are some of the choices you need to consider.

5) Boost up your immune system:

There is yet another challenge faced by our children during their college days. However hard they try, they always fail to keep their immune system strong. – This is because of their inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and rich in fiber and low on calories. They provide a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. Incorporating them in our daily diet is the easiest way to boost up our immune system.


Here is the THIRD Connect – Bite into ENERGY-  While you make the new connect – here’s your TAKE AWAY MESSAGE

Stay fit on your hostel campus with the these small yet significant snippets of health. By doing so, you’ll feel strong not only physically and mentally but emotionally too. This in turn will help you to navigate the stressful college experience with ease.

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections

“Healthy Eating for College Students”(Part 2 of 4)

By | Parent Coaching | No Comments

Healthy Eating Defined

The first home coming from college – is always a pleasurable moment for both parents and children. The initial days are spent meeting family & friends over dinners and lunches. Conversations between parents and children exposes the many wrong food habits that our children have developed over the last few months and now every mother’s fear has come alive. They secretly worry about their child’s health but have no idea how this fear must be tackled.

If you are one of that worried parent who is looking for ways for your child to live a Healthy College life – Your search ends here…

Parents, especially mothers are always concerned about their children with respect to eating healthy and staying fit. A sick and unhappy child miles away from the family is always a matter of concern for every family.

Abraham Lincoln had once said, “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe”.

This is the FIRST connect that we parents must integrate in our Parenting journey for it is this significant realization that will help every parent not only enjoy the parenting part but also be confident of their child’s journey of new understanding and cultural adjustments.

Our prime responsibility as parents is to guide and make our children aware of the importance of eating the RIGHT type of food to stay HEALTHY. When our children are aware of the nutritional content of the food that they eat, they are much better equipped to select the right foods that will be a part of their meals on a daily basis.


Let every mother give her child this precious advice as they set out to achieve new heights. We must always start with the basic connects – for when the foundation is strong – the building is definitely stronger.

Sharing with you the some basic facts related to Healthy Eating

  • There is a definite connection between what we eat and how we perform when it comes to sports and studies or for that matter any activity that we do during the day.
  • With the Right kind of food intake we are able to Think better and therefore Perform better.
  • Without proper nutrition, one does not have enough energy to make it through the day. Also, health declines without proper nutrition, making one more susceptible to illness and disease.
  • Thus it goes without saying that “Nutrition is an important part of a Healthy lifestyle“. It is indeed a vital aspect of our overall health and hence should not be neglected at any cost.

Here is the SECOND Connect – Eat RIGHT – Stay HEALTHY. While you make these connects – here’s your TAKE AWAY MESSAGE

Indeed – Health is a No Big Deal affair when the facts are clear.


 Healthy Teens are 🙂 Teens !!!

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections

“Healthy Eating for College Students” (Part 1 of 4)

By | Parent Coaching

Food is the ENERGY of your Body !!!

Only when we accept the seriousness of the dare – are we equipped with the power to find the solutions. So let us start the series with a question. Is it really Challenging to Eat HEALTHY at College?

Allow me to introduce  you to The College Food Pyramid, which kind of explains it why most students find it difficult to stay healthy during this most vibrant milestone of their lives.

College life is the most energetic and vibrant time of our life and therefore one must enjoy every moment spend with friends. And trust me – Staying fit and healthy on the hostel campus is NO BIG DEAL when one knows the unknown.

I will be sharing with you a few tips on this matter, but before we get into the details, let us have a closer look at the College Food Pyramidand understand the severity of the above identified question.


  • The pyramid clearly reveals that Healthy foods & well balanced meals are eaten less.
  • Children end up eating junk food most of the time due to its easily availability.
  • Availability of free foods (mostly junk) makes matters worse.

Repeatedly it is found that children who stay in hostels are not able to maintain a balance when it comes to eating healthy.Ever wondered as to why our children fail to eat healthy? It is essential to understand the WHY’s before we can answer the HOW’s.

The reasons are many…

Lack of Time (not getting up on time) leads to skipping of meals, and this in turn forces children to resort to eating a lot of junk food. The first option available (which often is a slice of pizza / doughnut/croissants ) seems to be the best option.

Many times children are not able to adapt to New foods – New place obviously means New cuisine. And not everyone is prepared for this shift.

Children often tend to miss home cooked food. Suddenly the curries, pulaos and even the basic simple curd rice (that were often taken for granted) are cherished.

Feeling homesick leads to depressed state of mind and it is this crucial moment when most children stop eating their meals. This vicious cycle if continued over a long period can lead to children falling sick.

Does this mean that when staying at a hostel your child has to compromise and sacrifice on good health? Absolutely NO.

We as parents need to understand that this is a new phase of their life. Our children are undergoing a transformation….which, as we all are aware is always going to be difficult in the beginning. Their journey towards adulthood is taking shape. Our children are now on their own-managing their meals and menus with their own mindsets.

Also let us understand that our children, as students are engaged in a lot of learning and physical activity during their college life and hence they require healthy meals not only to provide them with physical strength but also a high level of mental strength to handle the daily pressures of deadlines and project submissions.

So all you mothers out there, who are looking forward to sending their children to hostel, do take a moment to share some Healthy connects that your children can incorporate in their day to day routine and keep themselves fit and healthy.

Here is the FIRST Connect – Food is the Energy of our body .The Foods we eat and Lifestyle Choices we make – Both drastically impact our personal health. Indeed, We are “What we “EAT” – Energy & Taste  The Foundation of Good Health Click the link & get the connect.


Next week, I will be sharing some of the basic facts associated with Healthy eating – share them with your children and guide them towards a hale and hearty College Life…

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections

A Healthy College Life awaits YOU !!!

By | Parent Coaching | No Comments

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂 Teenage Special

A Healthy College Life awaits YOU !!!

College life brings with itself a whole new perspective. It is a life where the young minds have to maintain equilibrium when it comes to hectic study schedule and extra-curricular activities like clubs, sports, college events, college excursions and workshops and many more.

To strike a balance among the many new parameters of life is never an easy task. It often leads to a constant juggle and somewhere eating HEALTHY meals take a back seat.

When our young talented teenagers leave us to pursue their career, take the next few words with ease – “They will not only be saying Goodbye to family members but also to their existing eating habits.” – This is the Bitter-Sweet Reality associated with College Life – A fear that doesn’t let mothers stay Calm & Composed when their children make way to New horizons.



It is during their course of college life when our children develop new eating habits- habits that can influence their health directly and studies indirectly. They are now exposed to a variety of options and it entirely up to them to make healthy choices and stay fit. The choices they make TODAY will stick with them long after graduation, hence it is advisable that they inculcate the Right Eating Habits as soon as possible in their college days.

When equipped with the right dietary awareness, it gets a lot easier to stay fit and healthy on the campus.

This November– I take this opportunity to share with you an uninterrupted chain of 4 articles on “Healthy Eating for College Students”.

Why November – Because November has a significant connection with Children. The Universal Children’s Day takes place annually on 20 November. It was established first by the United Kingdom in 1954, to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.


Indians too celebrate Children’s Day on 14 November which coincides with the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru – The first Prime Minister of independent India.

Jawaharlal Nehru was very fond of children and was affectionately called Chacha Nehru by these children – (Chacha is a hindi word for Uncle). Later the entire nation admired and addressed  him as Chachaji of the Nation. It was his love for children that made Indians celebrate Children’s day on his birthday.

As a tribute to our beloved Chacha Nehru who emphasized the importance of giving love and affection to children for he saw in them the Bright future of India – I bring to you an uninterrupted series of 4 articles on “Healthy Eating” all through the month of November that will assist children to inculcate Healthy Eating Habits during their college days


Starting today onwards – Every Wednesday a new article will be uploaded that will take our children closer to believing that “Healthy Eating for College Students” is not a myth but a Reality.

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections

The Empty nest syndrome – New Innings!

By | Parent Coaching | No Comments

I am not a cricket fan – but somehow the word “Innings” has always attracted me and if you were to search its meaning on Google – You might too approach it with a little extra respect for it simply means – “A period during which a person or group is active or effective.”

Now you all must be wondering – What has “Innings” got to do with the  “Empty Nest Syndrome.” 

For every parent there comes a time in life when they feel that Life has come to an stand still – the path they have been walking all along suddenly disappears or should I put it as – The path now seems to be invisible because a strange kind of fog surrounds them and it kind of seems impossible to drive through this path to reach the destination they had set their eyes upon.This is nothing but the dreadful “Empty Nest Syndrome” that every parent is afraid to face head on.

The Empty Nest Syndrome refers to the phase in a parent’s life when their children move out to experience their own independent lives in a college.

Many of my family & friends were surprised when they saw how gracefully I had managed this crucial phase of life.

To me – this phase has a totally new name.I would rather refer to as my Second innings – A New BeginningA New journey !!!

For me “Innings” is a very crucial period – for it is our opportunity to put into use our precious commodity TIME to its optimum use.

Innings – a period of opportunity or action

To many this phase may seem as the end of life – but honestly speaking if you look deeper – it is a Beautiful Phase – one that must be looked forward to with excitement and appreciation.


A New chapter of Life begins…

After sending our children to these faraway lands – with all the time left at hand and no more running around to finish all the necessary duties – how does one manage to survive? – This demand MUST be tackled much before the children proceed towards their new phase.

Trust me there is no rocket science involved in this management. It is as simple as getting the puzzle pieces all sorted out before fixing them.Once the pieces are sorted – putting them together becomes EASY.

Advance preparations are a necessity – for it is only then – can we be at ease.

I am someone who believes in planning and so it was quite obvious that this phase too was planned much ahead of time and was accepted gracefully upon its arrival in my life.

“We all know when the Empty Nest Syndrome will knock in our life – so isn’t it better to welcome it with open arms – just the way we welcome our guests – Smile on the face and faith in our hearts that the next couple of hours (years when it comes to the Empty Nest) will be awesome.”

In my case, the preparation for this phase was well planned. The basic awareness & acceptance that there is no escape from it, made it very easy for me to start working on my future plans, much before the girls left.

And the consciousness that I have entered a new phase of life – one that involves a shift in my mindset – gave me the much needed wisdom to prepare for the readjustments that were needed to make the transition easy.

Self-Acceptance of the certainty that my parenting goals have been met and my children have now become self-sufficient – worked as an excellent stress buster – it made me feel AWESOMETop of the World!!!


My New innings are waiting for Me…

Here’s to Second Chances

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections

Be a “Pillar of Strength” for your child !!!

By | Parent Coaching | No Comments

Be a “Pillar of Strength” for your child !!!

The above letters have been received by all parents – But never have they been given IMPORTANCE – Never have we as parents taken the much needed awareness to read it aloud – Comprehend its inner meaning & apply it to our journey of PARENTING.

Let us OPEN the letter and see what lies within…


We often consider our children as a “Second Chance”– a Blessed Opportunity – that life gives us to fulfill our personal dreams. The day our children are born, we start building a road map to fulfill our dreams through them. Honestly speaking – I don’t identify with this repetitive rhythm that is being royally followed generations after generations in our society – GUILT FREE.

My firm belief of this disapproval arises from the fact that we have our own capacities and limitations. We are different – we think and act differently and so to expect our children to fulfill our dreams sounds totally incorrect.

Our children are unique and they have their own Goals and Ambitions

We are excellent in our own special ways and have our specific talents and aptitudes, likewise our children too, have their specific aptitudes that are unique. To expect our children to accomplish our goals would then be totally unfair and imbalanced.

When we expect our children to be the go-getters of our dreams – we are, sometimes unknowingly being a road block in the path of their dreams.

Instead of being a pillar of strength in their lives we end up being an obstacle in the path of their vision and ultimately we pass on the legacy of “Carry forward your Dreams to the Next Generation” to our children.

The cycle needs to STOP – for it is not an advantageous inheritance – that we should be proud off. Someone has to start a new trend – a new perspective has to be shared with the world. Why not it be YOU & MEand we ALL work together and pass on the legacy of “Live your own DREAMS” to our Children.

As parents we should be proud of the privilege we have been awarded by God ….The responsibility of nurturing little angels – Let us not only encourage our children to DREAM BIG but also support them positively and sincerely in accomplishing their targets and living the life of their dreams. And when we do so – We are sure to reap the fruits of this positive deed in the future.

I speak these lines with a personal experience. I am fortunate to be a mother to two daughters both unique in their own special ways.

As parents we have always been supportive of their dreams and therefore when my elder daughter decided to pursue a career in research in the field of Math & Physics (very rare for a girl) we stood by her decision. We took a step further to send her to the United States to pursue her dreams as it is one of the best places for Research and Education in this field.

Together WE – Parent & Child worked as a TEAM – to fulfill the Dreams of this angel – Our most Cherished Gift from GOD.

Leaving you with a connect to take you forward in this new legacy –“We parents have been bestowed upon with a sole responsibility :

  • Firstly to encourage our children to DREAM BIG and
  • Secondly be a Pillar of Support & Strength in the journey of their DREAMS

Nurturing these little angels with this understanding is to make God feel proud of his choice… Of us as parents to this little angel !!!

Read Beena’s blog Journeys and Reflections