August 6, 2011

Tips for the student planning to study abroad

The decision to seek admission and study outside of one's place of upbringing can be a daunting one, and should not be taken lightly, because of the many issues to be taken into consideration.

Besides the obvious issue of tuition fees, which can be quite high in foreign schools where you immediately pay much higher than the local students because you are now a foreign student, there are also issues to consider.
Some of the more important ones would be your source of a steady living allowance(s), visa issues, good accommodation in safe neighborhoods, meeting new people from different and diverse backgrounds with many coming over as strange, and many many other considerations.

This article does not address all the issues, but it tries to bring the very fundamental considerations of admission to the student's notice. To study overseas, an international student should note the following:-

1. Issues to keep in mind and resolve as you plan your travel.
  • How long do I want to stay abroad?
  • How restricted is my plan of study (i.e. would I have room for elective courses)?
  • Is my timing flexible, or do I need to travel in a particular semester, summer or calendar year?
  • Do I want to join and complete the orientation for fresh students?
  • Do I need to study in a specific program area or discipline, or am I interested in taking a course or class in different disciplines eg a foreign language class?
2. After you select a program and school of interest, browse the school's online site thoroughly and contact the school's International Study Advisor (or equivalent).

You may be required to write a personal statement (especially so for postgraduate students). Here, endeavor to discuss the following:
  • your goals for,
  • interests in,
  • reasons for and
  • nature of your selected study program.
Remember to review the deadline dates for your selected courses and determine if you need further information on the selected program.

3. Secure necessary funding for travel. You may have planned to rely on your own finances, or seek full or partial financial aid either through scholarship opportunities or the intended school.

Feel free to talk over available funding and scholarship options with the school's Office of Financial Aid (or equivalent). If there are options, it is your duty to ensure that scholarship applications reach the school before the advertised deadline date.

It is to your interest to note that certain schools do not charge any tuition fees from their students, both local and foreign, i.e. they are tuition free schools.

4. Complete all paperwork and application forms. Most application forms, deadlines and other information are available on school websites. You need to complete ALL necessary documentations, and in good time too.

You may do this by filling an online forms; or by downloading, printing out, filling in, and posting them to your oversea study advisor, admission office or equivalent. Otherwise, you may write the School to send you hard copies of application forms.

The four golden pieces of advice for international students in their quest for study overseas:
  • Start planning as soon as possible, preferably 1 - 2 years ahead to prevent any glitches.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) requirements vary. However, a good GPA will give you more options and better chances of acceptance.
  • Admission program applications often require recommendations, so begin in time to think about who and who might be willing to serve as a reference(s) for you.
  • Funding is usually available, but the level of funding varies with the program selected. Some grants may require a minimum GPA or pass level, or particular region.
Remember, choosing the right combination of course, college and country is probably one of the most important decisions you or any other student who is considering studying abroad will ever have to face.

In this regard, it may worth the while to take your time to seek guidance to admission into schools abroad from those who are the school's local agents in your country, the school's admission department, or other similar agency.

Take time as you visit the different sections of the school's site to understand the different facts and information presented, as each school's preferences and requirements is typically different from other schools.

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