While applying to a university abroad, don't get carried away by their attractive advertisements. Getty Images/iStockphoto
While applying to a university abroad, don't get carried away by their attractive advertisements. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Want to study abroad? Here are 8 smart strategies for you

Making it to a top global university requires a lot of planning. Here is all you need to do while planning to study abroad.
By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 02:14 PM IST

Getting the right degree from the right university can be challenging for a student. Sometimes, it may require you to move abroad. Making it to a top global university has been the dream of millions of Indian students. Data from UNESCO reveals that out of the 5 million students studying abroad in 2018, 750,000 were Indians. According to some facts and figures shared by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), more than 1 million Indian students were studying abroad till July 2019.

Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the scope of studying abroad with various countries offering post-study work visas, courses and online programmes at lower fees, so on and so forth. However, moving out of one’s own country is one of the most significant transitions in the entire lifecycle of a student. This requires a lot of planning and of course, an appropriate execution. Here is what you need to do if you want to study abroad.

Do your homework well

Research is the key while it comes to choosing a university abroad and the right course. Do an in-depth research of the universities you want to apply to, their programmes, course curriculum, selection procedures, eligibility criteria, fee structure as well as the accommodations they provide.

Take a virtual tour of the university campus from the website and go through the prospectus carefully and make sure that you don’t get carried away by attractive advertisements. Try to reach out to the alumni of the universities you are applying to in order to get the necessary insider information. Also, check the credentials of the faculty and their placement records.

Consult a career counsellor

Career counsellors will help you make the right choices. Education counsellors will also be your guide while it comes to understanding the selection procedure as well as doing paperwork and documentation, tedious tasks for sure.

Apart from your academic results and other relevant document, most universities ask for Statement of Purpose (SOP), Letter of Recommendation (LOR), so on and so forth. These can be the deciding factors behind your selection. Educational consultancies can help you with these crucial documents as well. But you need to choose a credible career counselling agency, or else, they may misguide you to fulfil their vested interests.

Apply as soon as possible

Early birds have an edge over others in many aspects, especially when it comes to financial aids. The earlier you apply, the higher are your chances of grabbing a scholarship. Do not stop applying even if you receive a lot of rejection letters. You never know, when fortune strikes!

Prep your SOP well

This is a must if you want to get admission to your preferred college or university in the US, UK, Canada or Australia. In fact, premium educational institutes all across the world ask for it. The name, however, may vary. While some institutes call it SOP, others refer to it as Letter of Intent, Personal Statement, Goals Statement, etc. This is an extremely crucial document because your overall profile is what interests the authority, apart from your academic accomplishments. These are the factors to keep in mind while writing your SOP:

• Be honest. Don’t exaggerate and void mentioning things that are already in the CV.

• Share your course-related achievements and experiences.

• Paint an authentic picture of your real, unique persona in front of the admissions committee.

• While explaining why you chose a particular institute, make sure that you explain how your dream college/university will benefit from you.

• Share your interest in extra curricular activities. This is crucial because it gives the authorities an idea about your Emotional Quotient, which is as important as Intelligence Quotient. Your areas of interest help them figure out how you can contribute to the broader campus life beyond the classroom.

• Talk about your unique cultural lineage and how it can add to the diversity of the institute.

• Consider adding an audio or video document of your profile.

However, seek help from your career counsellor or SOP writing agencies if you are not confident about your language skills.

Choose the right person for LOR

Most colleges, especially in Europe, require a letter of recommendation for international students. You need to get it from a teacher or professor whom you have worked with closely for a project relevant to your course. It will be best if he or she has been a student or teacher of the institute you are applying for. Your recommendation letter should include your achievements, improvement over time and your unique qualities.

Look for scholarships

The first option is to browse through the website of the universities you are applying to. Almost all of them have ample information about financial aid, scholarship, other funding options, eligibility and deadlines for them. In case of queries, reach out to the relevant authorities via email. The next option is to look for financial support elsewhere on the internet. Some authentic resources include:

Scholarship Portal

Scholars & Dev

Scholarships.com

Study in Europe

Here are the various types of scholarships that you can apply for if you want to study abroad:

• Scholarships for excellent academic results (also called merit scholarships)

• Scholarships for research, artistic, or athletic achievements

• Scholarships for students with low incomes

• Scholarships for under-represented groups (e.g. women, Hispanic and African-American students, citizens from developing countries)

Get your visa sorted

Start the visa processing work well in advance as it may take months. Also, check country-specific visa requirements. Visa approval also requires an SOP. Make sure that it is well-written.

Learn the local language

This is crucial if you are going to a country where people don’t speak English. Learning the local language will make life a lot easier and you’ll be able to make friends easily. Enroll yourself in an online course before setting off for your dream university. However, the programme you have signed up for, may also offer a beginner level local language class.

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