Studying abroad may be one of the biggest decisions you’ve made in your life so far, it’s easy to spend months or even years scouring websites, reading through prospectuses and planning finances. You will probably spend a considerable amount of time comparing locations too, whether it’s a decision between two cities in the same country, or you may be split between two countries on different continents. There comes a time though that you have to make a final decision, and this is where this article comes in. To help you make a final decision about studying abroad and ensure you choose the right country, university and course for you we suggest you follow these five steps:
1. Look at University Prospectus / Website
You may have found what you think is your ideal course in your perfect study abroad destination, but it’s always worth double checking. Take the time to download the prospectus from the University’s website and if possible request a paper copy. It’s always handy to have a hard-copy of the university information, especially when it comes to asking your friends and family for advice (see point 3) but many universities have stopped sending paper prospectuses to international students. If the university are attending a fair in your country this is a good opportunity to pick up their marketing materials.
Finally, look through their profile on this site along with their official website (in particular the international section) and social media pages. You can find the institution profile pages by using the search tool at the top right of this page.
2. Check Eligibility for Student Visa
You’ve now found the best study abroad course for you, but if you’re unable to study in your chosen country, your study abroad dreams will never come true. Before making any big plans, or even getting too excited, you need to check whether or not you will be eligible for a student visa in the destination of your choice. Check the university’s website for advice and enquire with the embassy of the country you’re applying to study in.
SEE ALSO: Study Abroad Visas
3. Speak to Friends, Family, Current Tutors, and Teachers
Although they are not always the best people to listen to in the initial planning stages of studying abroad, taking the time to talk to your parents and friends at this stage could be a really wise move. Besides the fact that they know you well, they are probably outside of the study abroad bubble that you may find yourself in at this stage. You’ve been spending weeks, maybe months trying to narrow down your search for the ideal study abroad course, so objectively assessing your options at this final stage can be tricky. Sometimes it’s best to ask for some help from outside this bubble and friends and family can be a great place to start.
Talking to your current tutors and teachers can also be very helpful as they are more likely know your academic ability better than your friends and family and as they’re in the business of education they may be able to suggest individual institutions or courses for your search. It’s all about getting another viewpoint so you can make a decision that isn’t clouded by the fact you’ve been in the study abroad bubble for a while.
SEE ALSO: Choosing a Course with your Family
4. Check Fees and Costs
At this point, the course has been chosen, your peers agree and you’ve checked your eligibility for a visa, so you need to make sure you know the costs associated with your choice. You can talk to the university directly for this, and this is also a good opportunity to ask any other questions or voice any concerns you may have. Clarify the fees with them, making sure that the prices advertised on their website are applicable to you as an international student. You should then also do some research into the other costs of studying abroad as Universities list their tuition fees and do not include accommodation, travel and other smaller expenses. Tools like StudyCostCompare are great for this, but you can equally work out costs by asking friends and researching through travel guides.
5. Check Funding Sources
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you will be able to afford the study abroad experience. You shouldl have the correct costs available to you at this point, so you will need to make sure your available funds equal or exceed this amount. If you’re using a scholarship, it’s worth double-checking when that will be paid to you, or whether it is paid directly to your institution. If you are self-funding, check your bank balance and make sure you’re on track to have the funds you require at the necessary time. You don’t want to find yourself short on cash when you come to book your plane tickets as you will need to prove your available funds as part of your student visa.
Once you have completed these five steps, you should be ready to commit to the life changing experience of studying abroad. It’s a big decision to make, so taking the time to make sure you choose the right course and pick the right destination, along with making sure all the financial and legal requirements are in place is a wise move.
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