Questions to ask yourself before signing up for higher education abroad
Pursuing higher education from a renowned international university is a thrilling reality test that can completely transform one’s life in addition to a great career choice. It equally involves earning a foreign degree and exploring new cultures. However, to decide whether to go for it or not is often a difficult choice for both students and parents. There is a slew of questions that students naturally come across, which should be thoroughly researched upon before applying for admission into a foreign university.
Here’s a list of some questions one should ask before making the final decision to study abroad:
Which course should I pursue and how good is it?
Deciding to study abroad without a clear vision on which course to pursue can be quite chaotic. One should first decide why s/he wants to pursue that particular program and what the benefits are. Do a thorough research on the course and the university, and see what extra it offers apart from a regular degree. Read the reviews of former students who studied there, and contact them in case one needs to clarify personal queries. Find out which companies came to the university for campus placements and how many students managed to get decent jobs after passing out from there.
Am I able to afford it?
This is one of the primary questions that one should ask and figure out how. Which is why it’s very important to skim through various programs offered by noted foreign universities and carefully understand their fee structure. Moreover, there is no surety that the course one is opting for, falls in the budget. In such a case, look for the second best option.
Although Google can clarify almost every query related to courses and programs, one can still go to an education counsellor for better assistance. Once decided which course to opt for, seek top student loans that offer flexible EMIs and easy repayment options. Usually, shorter duration programs charge less fee and longer duration programs do the opposite.
Will I be eligible for jobs in my country of choice?
Many employers don’t give weightage to a lot of one-year degrees or diplomas. There could be situations when one may not get jobs despite being educated from noted foreign universities. It is, therefore, important to first find out whether foreign degrees will make one eligible for employment in the home country or any other country of choice, and accordingly look for universities that offer programs recognized by home employers to avoid unemployment.
Do I have friends or relatives out there?
Having friends or relatives in a foreign land where one is going for the first time can be of great help. Local contacts could help one familiarise with local customs and also get the best accommodations. Plus, they will also act as local guardians in case of any emergencies. It’s, therefore, advisable to know a couple of reliable people out there who can come to rescue whenever required.
Am I open to cultural fit?
The world is a mixed bag of people, but not everyone likes to mix up quickly. There are those who want to pursue higher studies abroad but have no interest in acclimatizing to the new culture. This can be quite challenging especially when one is completely reluctant to adapt to the new environment. One can face a complete meltdown in times of small differences between their own practices and the ones followed in the new country.
How safe will I be in a foreign land?
Safety should be the top priority for every student when it comes to studying abroad. One should, therefore, search for countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Australia, etc. which offer a friendly learning environment to outsiders involving less violence as compared to other corrupted countries.
Although one should never let fear hold them back, any country would have thieves who look for opportunities to steal one’s wallet. This is something very common in any country, and one should, thus, be extra careful especially while visiting the crowded places and train stations that attract such people.
How convenient it is to manage other finances?
While studying abroad, it is not just the education expense that one needs to deal with, but a whole lot of other expenses that one has to smartly manage; cell phone bill, food & groceries, transport, health, and insurance, among others. Plus, there are times when one’s expense may go beyond the pocket money provided by parents. To avoid such situations, one should try to take up part-time jobs that could enable them to easily manage extra expenses.
What if I get rejected for the first time?
A rejection letter is a common reality for many candidates. Don’t be disheartened in such cases. Rather, start afresh by looking for the next best option. Also, if one wishes to reapply, it is always advisable to skim through the university’s rejection procedures and guidelines. Some universities may allow one to revaluate and those who don’t, usually give detailed feedback about one’s failure. Read the feedback and improve upon the shortcomings. A candidate may also take a year’s gap and prepare again to score better, however, in that case, one must make sure that s/he prepares a convincing story about this career gap.
Studying abroad can be the best decision in one’s life if planned well. Therefore, a student must look for the best options while keeping in mind their budget and other key requirements. Take time to do in-depth research about various universities and the courses they offer. Do not jump into taking abrupt and quick decisions. Rather, start early to get a lot of time for research and decide wisely.
Remember, it’s not just about studying abroad, but living and learning abroad.
(Author Rohit Sethi is Director, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant)