A College Readiness Pathway From India to MIT


We spent some time with Ayush between classes at MIT. See a video of his conversation with Pearson CEO John Fallon here: “A Video About How One Student’s Story Can Inspire the Future of Learning Innovation.”

 A Gateway—and Pathway—To Learning

Meet Ayush Sharma, an undergrad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ayush grew up in northern India, in the city of Kanpur.

“I never imagined I would get to study at MIT,” he writes. “I had always wanted to go to a prestigious university, but I just didn’t see how it would ever be possible for me to get one.”


Affordable Learning

A local learning company called Avanti helped Ayush prepare for his college entrance tests. It’s the kind of affordable learning solution supported by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, or PALF.

“The private sector has a vital role to play in making it possible for every child to have access to higher quality education,” writes Katelyn Donnelly, who is PALF’s Managing Director.

What Katelyn and her colleagues are learning by investing in education programs that are affordable, innovative, and effective improves learning anywhere … where anyone, like Ayush, can say: “I am so proud to say that I am now an engineering student at one of the best universities in the world.”

Ayush’s Story In His Own Words

(This essay is taken from the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund annual letter for 2015.)

My mother recently retired after two decades as a para-military constable, and my father is a mechanic in our hometown of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh; neither of my parents went to university, so it would have been understandable if they had pushed me down a more conventional path of college prep with one of the established local courses. I’m so grateful that they supported me in choosing Avanti instead.

Kanpur Headliner

At Avanti, being able to study with my peers was a much more attractive option than learning by rote. It was the learning outside the classroom, however, that really opened up possibilities for me. It started with the foreign applications program manager.

Through him, we heard about the various summer programs across top US universities—I got both encouragement and advice on putting myself forward for the Yale Young Global Scholars program. I was selected for Yale’s program and I think that was when I really began to understand what I would need to do to apply to US colleges for my undergraduate studies.

so proud

It was a fantastic experience, and I returned to India believing that MIT really could be within reach. It was not easy, especially improving my English and navigating the complex US application process, but Avanti had a personal mentor throughout our college applications, that supported me.

The first semester at MIT has been a whirlwind of projects, problem sets, and amazing new people. I hope that this is just the start for me, but for now, I am so proud to say that I am now an engineering student at one of the best universities in the world.