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Questions Students Need to Ask Before Deciding to Study Abroad

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

By Ms. Vibha Kagzi,
Founder and Chief Education Officer, Reachivy.com


Our top experts, who have been through this journey, have put together answers to top questions about studying abroad. Here are top 9 FAQs about studying abroad:

“Why Should I Study Abroad?”
For the sake of brevity, let’s just say that it is a life-altering experience. You will not just gain academic excellence, but also a personality makeover. Most people who have gone abroad for higher studies claim that their biggest takeaway has been the breadth of cultural experience. Living abroad, you pick up valuable life skills. Career wise, you couldn’t have taken a better bet. The network of international students and professors give you a broad base to explore global career options.

“Am I a Suitable Candidate?
Colleges like candidates with a well-rounded personality. Are you one? If you think that a higher GPA or academic track record is the only criteria, you are wrong. Depending upon the ethos and geography of the college you choose to apply for, the selection criteria will vary. So focus on building a well-rounded profile, right from academics, to sports, to cultural achievements, among others.

“How Do I Know Which College to Choose?”
As far as choosing the right college is concerned, base your criteria on factors such as location, student demography, campus placement track record, faculty profile, curriculum and other such. Do not base your decision on rankings alone – this is only a point of reference.  Having done your due diligence, work towards finding a college that is the best match to your profile.

“What About Financial Aid?”
Universities offer two kinds of aid: a) Merit-based scholarships, which are granted on the basis of special skills, talents, or abilities and b) Need-based scholarships, which are awarded based on financial need. Merit based scholarships are few and far between, while for need based, you will have to present a compelling case as to why you deserve a scholarship. Connect with the International or Financial Aid department at your targeted universities and ask them what options are feasible for you, based on your profile and course. Discuss with them about the selection criteria to be eligible for aid.

“How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?
College applications are tedious and expensive. Though there is no limit to the number of colleges you apply to, however we strongly recommend that you narrow down your choices to 6-10 universities. Make sure that you have a good mix of schools, ranging from high, medium, and, low target schools.

“Am I Early/Late to Begin the Process?”
The earlier you start, the better for you. Ideally, you should start the process at least 3-4 years before applying to college. This provides you time to plan ahead. But you can still catch up even if you are 3 months away from the deadline. Talk to a student counsellor or admissions officer to be doubly sure about your chances of meeting the deadline.

“What Will It Cost Me?”
Depending upon your choice of the country, the university, and the program you choose, expenses will vary. Check your university and program websites for a breakdown of approximate costs including estimated living expenses.

“What Are My Career Prospects After I Finish My Program?”
An international study program at a good college or university is your best bet in this ever-changing work scenario. As companies get increasingly tech savvy, and reach beyond their local geographies there will be a higher demand for internationally educated professionals. Many universities offer excellent campus recruitment, that gives students a head-start in the professional world. India is on a high-growth orbit, and many Indians studying abroad prefer to come back to India to explore fast-track careers.

“What About Safety of International Students?”
The international community is well aware of safety needs for immigrant students. Apart from ensuring campus safety, universities go to great lengths to ensure that their students feel welcomed and safe. There are many support groups, student bodies, and alumni associations to take care of foreign students. Moreover, our Indian government has also set up a special counselor service called MADAD to ensure the safety of Indian diaspora.

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