Studying abroad is a dream for many, who aspire to gain knowledge and build a bright career for themselves through international exposure. It is a beneficial experience that opens up a world full of possibilities.
Gone are the days when people were hesitant about travelling to a distant place, leaving own country, living a life in solitude. With globalization, technology and transportation, the world has become a smaller place indeed. It is due to these reasons that studying overseas is now becoming a common phenomenon, with students crossing countries and continents to get the best education possible.
Many students aspire to study in a foreign university because of the potential benefits it embraces. Through this article, we will guide you step by step through everything. But first let us try to find an answer to the most commonly asked question.
Why study abroad?
Studying in a foreign university is an aim of many students for a reason. Students choose to gain world class education not just to increase their opportunities in an effort to build their future, but it has other fantastic benefits as well. So, when you plan to study in universities like Harvard, Cornell, Stanford or Princeton, you should aim to study with the brightest minds of the world.
It is an important aspect as you will be investing your time, efforts and a huge amount of money to secure a seat for yourself in a foreign university. Overall, studying abroad is a big commitment but it comes with its own set of advantages which are listed as under.
Increases global exposure
Learning the language is important to crack admission but living in a different country isn’t as easy as it seems. Acquiring their language will definitely help you, but the experience you gain after immersing yourself in a totally different environment holds paramount importance.
This experience helps you learn about different cultures along with meeting and working with people who come from diverse backgrounds. Also, you will be exposed to their cuisine, heritage and lifestyle which is fascinating and will help you in picking up their local language as well.
Learning the language
One of the primary benefits of studying abroad is the chance to learn new language. It not just improves your communication skills but also helps you add up new words in your vocabulary, some being from the local language that only the natives speak. You will be totally surrounded by the language.
From talking to friends and watching TV shows to speaking with strangers or even reading the billboards, the language is going to be everywhere around. Furthermore, we all know that practice makes a man perfect, right? When you live abroad, the chances are high that you put up your practice skills to test without any excuses.
Right from greeting someone to buying something from the grocery store, every task will incorporate effortless practice.Also, as you socialize more with people, language acquisition will help you learn colloquialism, learn about their culture, food and boost your personality as well.
Studying overseas is considered as a life changing experience. It is indeed true! We do not realize our potential when we live within a comfort zone, but limits are pushed when someone decides to leave the home country, in a completely different place away from our home and our people. That’s when we realize our true potential and discover about our self. Also, when you move out, you get to face the realities of life, which otherwise you might not experience at all.
Studying abroad demands you to adapt to a whole new culture, situations, places and people. And as you move out your comfort zone, you have no other option but to take up the responsibility of yourself. Moving out also means that you may have to learn life skills like cooking, cleaning, budget management etc.
These might appear daunting at first, but as you proceed you might outdo others. Always remember that you aren’t alone and people are always there to help you out! Overall, the experience of living and studying alone will shape you as a mature and independent individual.
Expanding your social network
Studying in a foreign university/college may be difficult for some as they feel homesick. However, when you meet new people in abroad, you have the perfect opportunity to become friends with them coming from different cultures and backgrounds. Also, it is aptly said that many lifelong friendships start at university/college, so there are fair chances that you may encounter the best people of your life there. Most people you will meet there might be going through the same emotional roller coaster and will probably understand you better. Apart from these reasons, you get to meet people from all over the world, who may help you expand your communication network and broaden your knowledge.
Looks good on CV
You may have some of the most premier institutes in your home country, but you choose to study abroad in order to gain world class knowledge. With an international degree and experience on your resume, you will have an upper hand over other candidates.
Clearly, a degree from a foreign university will definitely fetch you employer’s attention. Also, you may emerge as a confident, mature candidate with good communication skills because of your experience of living abroad.
Furthermore, with a focus on globalization, companies these days prefer students who have studied or worked overseas, as they have a firsthand experience of living in another country and they are more likely to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to facing new challenges. So it is going to be a value asset for you in future and bring your career goals closer!
When should I apply?
So, the basic rule says that the sooner you start, the better it is. If you are looking forward to applying for a foreign university after completing your Class XII in India, there are few important things that need to be kept in mind:
- Start as early as possible. It is always recommended that you plan at least 2 years in advance, so that you have ample time to complete all the necessary documents and prepare for entrance level tests, if required, well in time. Also, start applying in the months of October – November of the penultimate year. This means that if you want to secure admission in 2022, then apply for it in October-November 2021.
- Some universities require you to undertake tests like SAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS or similar. With SAT, you have an advantage that you can take this test after clearing your Class X, which also means that you have to start preparing at least 2 years in advance.
- Try to keep your academic profile strong. The university might take your Class IX, X and XII marks under consideration while going through your application. Personal achievements like certificates or awards for academic or subject excellence may turn out to be fruitful for you.
- Do your research in advance about the university and area of study of your choice. Read about the necessary educational qualifications needed to get through. Choose the subject that aligns with your future/careers goals and zero-in on the high ranking universities.
- Read all the instructions carefully required for application. Prepare all the documents required for generating student visa, if you feel unsure at any step, consult the university or study council or an expert dealing with admissions abroad.
- Certain universities demand a motivation letter or a college essay. Its main aim is to draw an insight into the person you are and how your thoughts, values and ideas can resonate with the university’s ideals, helping the community at large. Basically, it is an opportunity for you to show admission officers, what makes you stand out from the rest.
- Some universities require you a recommendation letter from your teachers, sometimes more than one. So, don’t feel shy to ask for it from teachers you have a cordial relationship with. Teachers also need some time to craft a recommendation letter for you, so always plan in advance for it.
- Keep all your documents ready. To apply for a student visa, make sure that the university is accredited by the government of the country in which it is located. It can be a time taking and complicated process, so make sure you work for it as soon as possible to avoid any regret later.
- Some universities require you to clear the interview process as well which is the last stage. These interviews hold paramount importance as they are an opportunity for you to create lasting impression on the admission officers which can help you nail the process and get you a seat in your desired university and program. “Please introduce yourself in a few sentences”, “Why did you choose to study in our university/ this program”, “What other countries have you considered for studying this program” are some of the exam of questions asked during the online interview. So, make sure that you are well prepared and don’t fumble or murmur while speaking, as your language and communication skills are being put under test along with other factors.
- Studying abroad is a costly affair, everyone knows that but there is no simple answer to how much it costs. But university application fees, travelling fares, tuition fees, English language tests fees, visa application and other such factors add up to a huge amount. Don’t let this discourage you, but make sure you plan accordingly to budget everything appropriately.
What documents do I need to apply?
If you dream of studying in abroad, make sure that you start planning months (or as recommended 2 years) in advance to keep everything sorted and even if they don’t, you have time to apply in other university.
But, before that, you need to know about certain documents that should be with you at the time of application. We have listed down on major documents needed, but do check with the university’s website as they might ask for some other document as well.
- Application form: This will include all your personal and academic details along with other achievements.
- Statement of Purpose (SOP): Basically, it is an essay which speaks about your educational background, extracurricular and/or academic achievements and goals. It is one of the deciding factors of receiving a Letter of Acceptance, so invest a great amount of time in crafting the best possible statement as it will help you stand out from the crowd.
- Letter of Recommendation (LoR): As discussed above, it is demanded by universities to get an insight about your skills, achievements, personal qualities and potential direction in the future, directly through your school authorities i.e., teachers. It also helps them assess how you will be able to contribute to the community at large.
- Transcripts: This is more commonly known as marksheet in India. This is your detailed academic record generated by your school or board, in the form of grades or marks against the courses you have passed and/or mentions credits gained. Transcripts are usually sent to abroad universities as sealed hard copies through courier service. It is always recommended to read the documents thoroughly before sending them out.
- Competitive exam score: Your test grades or score are an important point of consideration in the admission process and thus, attach a copy of your SAT, IELTS, TOEFL,GMAT, GRE or other score along with your application form.
- College Essay: When applying abroad, universities ask for a college essay from the candidate. Take it as an excellent opportunity to show the admission officers who you are, what is your potential to become and how can you contribute as their student. They are putting your language and writing skills and trying to sift the best candidate from potential student applications through this essay. It’s not a cakewalk, so take your time and put your best foot forward to ace the personal statement.
- Resume: Always try to prepare a powerful resume. It’s not very easy to do it, but taking help from peers, teachers, parents or an expert will help you do it rather easily. Use concise pointers, focusing on things that you couldn’t include in your college essay. Don’t make it too lengthy and stick to two pages only. Most importantly, be honest and accurate.
- Passport photographs: Yes, you read it right! While filing application, using the correct passport size photographs are as important as other documents. At times, a university may reject your application because of the photographs you attached didn’t match their criteria that they mentioned on their website or application brochure. This happens because we ignore this factor considering it negligible, but you need to take everything seriously to avoid regretting later. So, always read the dimensions required for the photograph.
- Financial Statement: Some universities seek your financial statement to assure whether you would be able to pay for your living and expenses or not. It is a letter written by the bank, preferably in English, along with a copy of your bank statement, duly signed and attested.
- Passport: Some universities require a copy of your passport to issue student visa letter.
What are the top universities right now?
‘Only toppers go to study abroad’ is a cliché statement nowadays. Anyone who wishes to study abroad can do that irrespective of the fact that you are a topper or an average score achiever. If you have the potential, you can achieve it. But, every student wishes to attend the best university to build a bright career and future.
Based on the QS World University Rankings, in the 2021 edition, the universities which made it to the top 20 are:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States of America
- Stanford University, United States of America
- Harvard University, United States of America
- University of Oxford, United Kingdom
- California Institute of Technology, United States of America
- ETH Zurich- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
- University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
- University College London (UCL), United Kingdom
- Imperial College London, United Kingdom
- University of Chicago, United States of America
- Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
- National University of Singapore
- Princeton University, United States of America
- Cornell University, United States of America
- University of Pennsylvania, United States of America
- Tsinghua University, China (Mainland)
- Yale University, United States of America
- Columbia University, United States of America
- EPFL, Switzerland
- The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Trending courses over the world – admission in foreign universities
USA, UK, and Canada are some of the most popular destinations for students to study abroad. But nowadays, students are willing to take the roads less traveled.
They are willing to study unconventional courses or in countries like China, Japan, Norway, and many more.
Many offbeat courses/programs like gemstone, agricultural sciences forestry, game design, earth science, pharmacy technician, brewing science, baking science, peace and conflict studies are attracting students in large numbers.
One reason behind the increasing popularity of such courses might be the rise in job opportunities. Also, some students bring their expertise and knowledge in these unconventional fields of study in India and make a successful career out of it.
The list of such offbeat programs offered in foreign universities is quite long. Interdisciplinary study is in demand in other countries which give offer specialization in courses that are the need of the hour.
Courses in Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence are being offered in the US which has attracted many students from all around the world due to our growing dependence on technology.
It has also created various job opportunities in the IT ecosystem worldwide. Similarly, courses in data analytics, virtual reality are also growing popular as the industry demands people having skills and theoretical knowledge in spatial sciences. Phyto-chemistry, marine engineering, biomimicry, vineyard brewery (enology), waste management, UAV pilot and drone management, Pyrotechnics, Aquaculture, and many more courses are available overseas.
These offbeat career options not only bring excellent job security but also offer attractive pay packages.
Hence, if you don’t believe in following the flock and taking up common courses like engineering, computers, medicine, or law, these are some of the courses available for you.