When students and their parents come to me for counselling, I often find many of them confused about their choice of destination. There are several factors you should take into consideration before choosing the country to study in. We discuss some:
Where do you want to live and work after you graduate? It can help you tremendously to study in the country you plan to work in — even if you just want to work there for few years before returning to India. You will build your network primarily in the country in which you study. So, you will have a much stronger chance of getting your first job there.
Check the rules that allow you to work in the country(ies) you are considering. Some countries are much more flexible than others. Further, some countries are changing their rules. Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program now allows students, who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution, to work in Canada for up to three years. The UK is under pressure to bring down net migration. It will be interesting to see if and how the policies change after Britain’s elections.
Also think about whether you want to work, intern or volunteer while studying. Each country’s rules around this are different.
If you do not plan to return to India, think about which county’s economy you want to have exposure in. If you plan to focus on emerging economies or a specific region, you may want to study there.
If you are planning to go abroad for undergraduate studies, flexibility of the curriculum may be important to you. In general, the US offers the greatest amount of flexibility as you join university without declaring a major or you can focus on more than one area through a double major or by choosing to minor in subjects you are interested in.
Also, look at how strong that particular country is in the field of your choice. Look at the width and depth of the curriculum, how updated it is and how strong the faculty is.
Look beyond the academics and understand what other skills you will be building. For example, the US places a great deal of stress on non-academic skills such as leadership and teamwork.
These include tuition fees and living and travel costs. Do not just look at tuition costs because living costs in certain cities can be substantially higher and may even offset your savings on tuition. Some countries have a much wider set of financial aid options for international students than others.
The country’s language
If you are considering studying in a non-English speaking country, think about how comfortable you are with that. Learning another language by studying aboard can be a fantastic opportunity and could give you an edge over others in your career.
Culture and environment
Think about the culture and environment of the country(ies) you are considering. What type of culture do you like? How diverse is the student body and what percentage of the students are international?
The weather may be an important factor for you.
The author is an MBA from Columbia Business School and holds a BA (Hons) from Oxford University. She has more than 13 years of experience working in the US and India and is the CEO of FutureWorks Consulting, www.futureworks. co.in, an admissions consultancy.