In today’s connected world foreign countries and even distant continents are only an instant message away. That is why obtaining an education abroad became one of the most popular items on student bucket lists. Indeed, why not take in a new culture, hone your language skills, improve your career options by choosing a program unavailable in your home country, and see the world?
It seems so easy thanks to technology. Essay writing services can help you to compose the most compelling admission essay, the trip only takes several hours by plane, and you are able to stay in contact with your family and friends back home. Yet there are things you should consider before you make any rash decisions.
Your host country
Choosing where in the world you will go to school sounds thrilling. However, it’s a bit more complicated than choosing a flavor of an ice-cream. Apart from your passions and cultural interests, you should think about practical things, like costs of living, available programs, career prospects (if you intend to stay after graduation), and immigration policies of your host country. In other words – your overall safety and wellbeing.
Your target school
Once you’ve decided on the country, you may further research universities with respect to their situation (big city or small town), facilities (athletic equipment, artistic workshops, research laboratories, library resources, student dorms, etc.). On top of these technical details, colleges have personality, just like people. Make sure you choose one that suits you – look for the online student communities and alumni testimonials to learn more about this side of things. This is going to be your home for several years, so do not neglect to make thorough research.
Your period of stay
How long are you willing to study abroad? You should choose a program according to your emotional readiness and financial capacity. There are exchange programs that last between a few weeks to a year. Such shorter programs often allow you to apply via your home university and even get a scholarship that covers your tuition fees together with room and board for the period. If you wish to obtain a degree, it will take longer – how long exactly depends on the country of your choice. The typical duration of an undergraduate degree program is three years in the UK and four years in the USA, while a master’s degree will take only a year or two.
Before you start applying to any of the schools on your list, you should calculate the tuition costs and the costs of living in the chosen country. Will you be able to afford it? If you don’t have college fund previously collected by you or your family, you should check if any scholarships are available. There is a possibility that your target school offers scholarships for international students. If not, there might be some frameworks in your home country or in the country of study targeting any specific groups that might apply to you (for example, scholarships for women studying male-dominated subjects). Finally, there are private funds and charity programs – such third-party scholarships also can be listed on your university’s website. Note that you might not be able to work in the country of study due to legal limitations, so earning your way is rarely an option.
Gathering all documents must wait until you are finally set on the university and the program because the application process differs widely between countries and schools. Normally, all the details are provided on the official website of the university. If something isn’t entirely clear, do not hesitate to contact the university directly. Pay close attention: some of them require two-step application for international students: you should apply to the university and the intended course separately.
If stay in your destination country will require a student visa, note that you can apply for it only after you’ve received the letter of acceptance from your target university.
Generally, you will need a certificate and transcripts of your secondary education and a certificate of proficiency in whichever language the classes of the target program will be conducted (TOEFL and IELTS for English-speaking countries, DELF/DALF and TEF for French-speaking ones, DSF and TestDaF for Germany, JLPT for Japan, etc.). However, if you are considering getting financial aid, remember that scholarship programs are highly competitive. Probably, it will require you to go an extra mile to prove that you are a deserving candidate – collecting letters of recommendation, writing an impressive personal statement, etc.
Apart from official certificates, don’t forget your personal maturity level. You have to be independent enough to live on your own far from home, be ready to manage your finances, plan your time, take care of your meals, laundry, and your health.