Planning to undertake higher studies abroad? There are so many course options available, and countries to choose from, that choosing the best study abroad program is a difficult decision indeed. You should choose a place that matches your education and career goals, your talent and your personality. Talk to your friends and family and if required get the help of a qualified education guidance counselor who will be able to help you to narrow down your choices. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when choosing the study abroad program that is just right for you!
Which country is your study destination of choice?
This is an important decision as it will determine where you will be living for the duration of your study and perhaps later on as well. Ask yourself what are the types of personal, academic and professional experiences you would enjoy. Choose a country that supports your lifestyle—one where you will be comfortable with the people around you, the food and culture, and where you will be able to adjust to the climate as well. Imagine yourself walking around, travelling in buses, eating out, shopping and participating in sports or other forms of entertainment. Make sure that you will get the sort of social, political or religious freedom you desire while doing all these activities. Last but not least, the countries you are looking at should offer the academic and professional opportunities that will help you advance in your career.
What is the duration of study you are looking at?
You can choose to undertake study abroad for different duration of time. Some students undertake study for just a semester (3 to 5 months), while others opt for a summer course, a one-year course, or an entire program that may be for a duration of 1 to 4 years. The duration depends on what you are studying, how long you want to live away from your friends and family, and whether or not you want to earn your entire degree or just part of it in another country. You should also find the course duration to be financially viable and should be prepared to live alone, fending for yourself, for that period of time. The duration will also depend, of course, on your chosen field of study.
How do you know that you are participating in a legitimate and trustworthy program?
Shortlist programs that are accredited, as you can rely on their quality, acceptance, transferability and dependability. Find out from the Government Education department as to how to ascertain the accreditation status of the institute and program. You can also ask your local counsellor if they recommend the program, and if credits from the program will be accepted for transfer.
There may be some institutes that offer partner programs with your present school. Such courses will be easier to gain admission into, and the credits from your prior learning can be easily transferred. Make sure that you look for programs of study that are well reputed, popular among overseas students and rank high on quality, rather than judging the college by its website or the beauty of its buildings.
If the program offers a sound curriculum, talented professors, and meaningful opportunities, then it may be right for you.
Will your credits from your overseas study be accepted in your home college?
If you are undertaking a short period of study overseas and plan to complete the course in your home country, then you must check if the credits you gain overseas will be recognised and accepted in your own college. Alternatively, if you are choosing to complete your study overseas then check if the credits you have already accumulated can be transferred overseas. Do your research properly before you apply, and do not make any assumptions about the transferability of your credits.
Are you emotionally ready to study abroad?
Any period of study abroad comes with its own set of challenges. You may not be emotionally ready to live away from the comfort of your family and friends. Learning a new language, or living amidst a new culture may be very daunting and difficult for some students. You will be required to have a sense of adventure and be prepared to be bold, and you should be mature and capable of facing the physical upheaval that comes with a new way of life. It’s perfectly normal to be anxious and nervous about studying abroad—everyone goes through some apprehension—but be prepared to work hard, study well and enjoy your life and you will be sure to have some of the best experiences of your life!