Studying abroad is an important decision; potentially life-changing in more aspects than one. You will stay away from your family and loved ones for an extended period, a new land, a new culture to embrace, harsh climates; all these are factors that you need to remember. This article examines ten important and pertinent questions that every student who aspires to study abroad should ask one-self before taking the ‘big decision’.
1. Do I really need to go abroad?
This is the fundamental question that you need to start with - do you really need to go abroad for a degree that you might be able to complete at less than half the cost in your home-country. What benefits would the years spent abroad studying help you. Will you family’s finances help you go abroad. If you are able to convince yourself to say ‘Yes’ to the first question then things will be easy for you to prepare for student-life abroad. The challenges that you will face abroad and the knowledge that you acquire will help you become a ‘citizen of the world’.
2. When do I start preparing?
‘If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail.’ If you have decided to study abroad; plan appropriately. If you are an undergraduate student looking to go abroad for a relevant postgraduate course; focus on getting good scores in your course. If you plan to work for a couple of years before securing the coveted MBA - then focus on making enough money and gaining relevant work-experience to help you study your MBA
a few years down the line.
3. What course do I study?
In essence - the answer to this question will significantly impact the rest of your life. From the career-path that will help you earn your living to the individual that you will get moulded into - the course that you decide to study is all important.
Choose from our wide selection of institutions and courses to find one that best suits your plans and requirements.
4. How much will it cost?
The costs will vary based on the course that you choose; the duration of study, the reputation of the institution and the country where you plan to study. All institutions nowadays have well-designed websites with clear listing of tuition fees and accommodation costs. So do your cost-analysis research thoroughly.
5. When do I apply?
Most institutions across the world have two admission-intakes; one is the spring admission the other being the winter or autumn admission-intake. All institutions have a clear admission procedure structure in-place, which starts usually with the student applying online. Typically there is a two-month gap between the actual offer of admission and the start of classes. The last date for acceptance of application forms is about four to five months before the actual start of classes and this varies from institution to institution.
6. Do I need to write any special exams?
Ensure that you meet all academic eligibility requirements for the course, which you aspire to study. The admissions-requirements for the course will also include English language requirements with a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score, which you will have to meet. Based on the course of your choice you would have to write the GRE or the GMAT as well. Please read through the course-description page of the course that you aspire to study for detailed information.
7. Can I apply for a scholarship?
Based on the country, institution and course that you aspire to study; limited scholarships would be available for international students. Scholarships are offered by the educational institution, the government and private organisations and philanthropists. The British Commonwealth Scholarships, Fulbright Fellowships and Rhodes Scholarships are some popular scholarships.
8. Will I get on-campus accommodation?
Most institutions require international students to stay on-campus during their first-year of study and offer students the option to select an accommodation category that fits their budget. American institutions also offer a ‘meal plan’ wherein students pay for their food in advance. Students are advised to check the institution’s website for details about accommodation-options and the associated fees for the housing. Students can also choose to stay in private student-hostels and home-stay options which offer a unique cultural learning experience.
9. Can I work part-time?
This again is an important question; which plays a decisive role in the student accepting an offer. Countries like the USA mandate that students need special written permission from their institutions to work part-time off-campus. Countries like the UK, New Zealand and Australia allow students to work for a pre-defined duration of time every week during class-time and full-time during vacations and semester-breaks. Please remember your primary focus is to study well and complete your degree - do not get too involved in your part-time job and lose your work-study balance and end up with a poor academic performance.
10. How will I come to terms with life in a new country?
A big challenge for first-time international students would be ‘home-sickness’, you will crave for the love and affection of your family and friends and miss the family dinners. Eventually you will realise that this opportunity will make you strong, free-thinking and independent and also allow you to make friends with other international students’ on-campus. Adapting to the climate; different food, cultural behaviour and life-style will take some time to get-used to - the ‘Student Orientation Program’ is a big help in acclimatising international students to their new life and you should not miss the orientation sessions for your own good.
With numerous scholarships and low-interest student loans being offered by banks; students with a good academic score can now easily go abroad to complete their higher education. Studying abroad takes a special commitment both from the student and the student’s family. Things are much better now with the advancements in communication technology, which allow students to speak to their parents via Skype / video-chat / mobile-phones. Regular international flights also allow students to travel to their family in case of a family-emergency. So things are definitely much better for international students when compared to students 10 to 15 years back.
As stated right at the beginning - studying abroad is a life-changing decision - if you have the financial backing, a supporting family and the courage to take the leap of faith - then take the plunge and go abroad for your degree!!!!
Need help? Talk to a Hotcourses advisor and get help at every step of your application process. Get started for fee now!
Image Credit - www.mrcredit.org