California is unquestionably the epicentre of global technology and unrivalled graduate opportunities that inspire the most gifted postgraduate minds from New England’s Ivy League, Britain’s red bricks, and South Korea’s SKY bloc to flock stateside.
This dominant position is made possible by a happy marriage of elite universities with reputations that match the Statue of Liberty, and behemoth companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, who are as driven as the railroads that unified the states between two oceans. For five centuries, people from across the globe have ventured towards the United States in search of a better life. America has long been framed as a nation built by immigrants drawn to a land of opportunity, a place where dreams are realised and fortunes forged. No state in this continental country embodies this sentiment more than California. Known to many as the Golden State, California’s west coast breaks against the Pacific Ocean’s surfer-worthy waves, basks in three-hundred plus sun-bursting vistas that would look ‘awesome’ as a poster in any undergrad’s dorm, and flaunts Michelin starred seafood that would bring a smile to Captain Nemo’s scurrilous crew. Hardy colonists tamed the state’s varied environment in the 19th and 20th centuries, arriving with their ploughshares and prospecting tools from three compass points. The twenty-first, however, brings a new cadre of pioneering immigrants— newcomers who endure long intercontinental flights replete with the latest Hollywood movies – not to grow rich from the black sludge of oilfields nor the clumped nuggets of a fresh gold rush, but to profit from the education of several prestigious universities, attracting international students with their powerful post-grad magnetism and large alumni-backed cheque books.
But why California? Professional logisticians would call this a straw man argument: high-ranking universities, ‘packaging’, an international perspective, and a CV bursting with transferable skills ready to show some of the most sought-after employers in the world with an answer. California is a state replete with academic quality. Stanford was ranked 7th in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings and is located firmly within the orbit of Silicon Valley, while Caltec (10th) is not too far from California’s biggest metropolis, Los Angeles. And Berkley’s reputation at 25 solidifies a single state’s enormous academic prestige and competitiveness when compared to other international institutions. “Do you know why Americans are successful?” my Chicago born friend with an MIT PhD asks me, “because we are experts at packaging ourselves”. And this is what California offers beyond the embossed degree scroll.
Americans are “awesome” at promoting themselves in a way that elevates them far beyond Europeans. A post-grad degree in California is not just an MBA in Business; it’s an immersion course in how to sell yourself in a way that will make top graduate employers hire you.
The world of 2014 is undoubtedly interconnected and symbiotic. Accepting this reality, however, is not the same as understanding it. Further study in one’s homeland is not without value, but can be parochial. An international degree gives an international perspective. Go beyond your own borders; gain a second viewpoint. And there is no better place to do this than the most prosperous, cutting edge state in the world’s leading economy and most politically evolved superpower.
California is a state that is brimming with CV-building opportunities. Far beyond the mahogany libraries of San Diego (63rd) and Irvine (149th), nature’s bounty becomes both panorama and playground, and where one begins to understand the motivations of the state’s investment in green technology and its leadership in preserving wilderness for future generations.
Ride the ivory-azure crests on a hired surfboard, workout with Mr. Universe candidates on Venice Beach. Embrace the cool Pacific wind through meandering mountain passes to the cotton snow peaks in Yosemite, or become enveloped by the long shadows of rust-red trees in Sequoia National Park: the variety is spellbinding. And when nature has ushered fatigue, there are other activities to talk about in job interviews: perhaps you’ve heard of Hollywood? Or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers? How about that little known basketball team, the LA Lakers?
Oil and gold are no longer California’s most valuable extracts, not for the academic immigrant of the 21st century. The outstanding universities—and the opportunities beyond—are teaching postgrads not to dig into the land, but within themselves— and there is no better education than that. California might be over five thousand miles from the UK, but it’s one step in the right direction. In the vernacular of America’s citizens, further study in California is “a no-brainer”.
Read more about studying in the USA.