Study Abroad: Guide to choose the right study abroad destination - Hindustan Times
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Study Abroad: Factors to consider while choosing the right study abroad destination

By, New Delhi
Dec 06, 2023 01:17 PM IST

A better strategy is to dive a little deeper to discover the universities that offer the best course for your intended area of study.

In today’s day and age, it is not uncommon for high school students and their families to feel lost and confused while comparing multiple destinations and scrolling through seemingly bottomless ‘ranking lists’ of universities across the globe.

Don't chase university rankings - Rather do intensive research on the top universities for your intended area of study.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Don't chase university rankings - Rather do intensive research on the top universities for your intended area of study.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

These are probably the most prized and life-transforming years of your life and the onus to find the right college/place to spend these years is squarely upon you - while I can give you a quick framework to use, there’s no substitute for good old ‘nose to the grind’ research. But here are some factors to consider while you deliberate over this critical question.

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Choose a well-balanced landscape

Be it the pristine beaches in California and Spain, vibrant and urban melting pots like London, New York, Toronto, snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, or verdant European towns, one must explore more than what meets the eye!

A well-balanced landscape is one that offers an abundance of educational, professional, and recreational opportunities to learners from the world over. Such destinations attract diverse and talented students and foster innovation and creativity—the tenets of interdisciplinary problem-solving and entrepreneurship.

If you have plans to stay back, to find employment and to possibly immigrate down the line, it’s important to understand what sort of careers and opportunities the university’s alumni have been able to find in that country, what industries and sectors that institution typically feeds into.

If you are considering careers in highly competitive sectors such as Consulting, Finance, High tech, remember, employers only recruit from a handful of universities called ‘feeder schools’. Consider the ease of getting a work visa, immigration/permanent residency as well as the future of the profession/jobs you are interested in, in that country.

Remember, the concept of ‘placements’ doesn’t exist outside of India, the onus to find a job is upon you but some universities have a strong alumni network and student-run career services that can go a long way in helping you get to your dream career.

Craft your own rankings list

If your college list resembles one that is readily available on any popular rankings database, it is likely that you have not spent enough time researching your best-fit school list.

Universities across the world seek students who align well with not just their level of academic rigor, but also their ethos, values, and mission. Don’t conclude your research at ‘top universities in x country’ or a ‘major-wise ranking’ list.

Other factors to consider are size and type of college (Teaching Assistants teach most of the classes at some of the large National Universities, whereas in smaller Liberal Arts colleges, most of the teaching is done by Professors), academic rigor, size and nature of the student community and environment (collaborative, ‘sink or swim’), student diversity, weather, location of the campus (you would be surprised how cold -30 degrees can feel like and how lonely a college town in some remote part of Northeast America can be).

The more meticulous you are, the more likely you’ll find a place that not only fulfills your academic dreams but helps you grow, thrive and build memories that last a lifetime!

Study universities' ethos

What will be the average class size? Are there any clubs or organizations that pique my interest? What have other international students posted about their on-campus housing?

Understanding the social characteristics and identifying schools that are congruent with your interests (not just academic but interests outside of academics), strengths, and traits is a process that significantly improves one’s overall experience at university.

I recommend students to study the culture and history of the universities they’re applying to, not just courses available but also opportunities available outside of academics - social clubs, sororities, sporting & other activities.

I also highly recommend reaching out to current students and alumni to understand their experience (as digital natives, how to find them is the least of your worries).

With thousands of universities to choose from across the US, UK, Europe, and Canada, picking the right one may feel like finding a needle in a haystack, however, identifying what matters most in a college, asking the right questions and doing the research will certainly help you inch closer toward your best-fit destination!

(Authored by Kunal Mehra, Managing Director and CEO, Crimson Education India. Views are personal)

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