When choosing to study abroad, there are many resources that international students choose to consider such as the facilities, study programs and research opportunities in different schools, colleges and universities. There is one resource that seems to be overlooked by many, and this is the alumni or the former students of a school, college or university. In this article, it will be discussed why students (you!) should not overlook alumni and what you can gain from speaking and connecting with them.
First, choosing to connect with alumni will help you gain perspective on the university that you are looking to study at. They have first hand experience of student life at that university, which ranges from the academic to the social. They will be able to tell you about the study workload, student socialization, events and countless other aspects.
Second, alumni will be able to tell you the kind of job opportunities available for the graduates of a specific university and specific programs or degrees of that university. You will be able to gain insight on the job market as viewed from the perspective of someone who has undergone what you are thinking of going through. This is a great way to see if the career path you are planning to take after graduation will be available to you and to what degree the availability will be. In fact, getting to know alumni is a great way of networking especially if they are taking the career path that you are interested in.
Another great way that connecting with alumni will help you is through what they can tell you about the treatment of international students in a specific university and program. A number of universities have great opportunities academically and socially for its international student population. Some have their own international students’ union or a similar organization that connects the university’s international students. Some also have a specific department in the university that caters to the needs and concerns of its international students. A university’s alumni will be able to tell you if the school, university or college that you are looking at has the services and opportunities that you would want.
Alumni will also be able to tell you with their experiences with a specific university’s facilities. As mentioned earlier, facilities are one of the resources that international students choose to consider when selecting a place to study. You can ask the alumni about their experiences and check if the university’s facilities would be a positive aspect of studying there or maybe a negative one. Facilities are important! A lot of universities are creating more technically advanced hubs for their campuses, but not all of these will be catering to everyone’s needs.
For example, a university can have a state-of-the-art laboratory for its biophysics majors but lack similarly advanced facilities for its computer science majors. Talking with someone who has experienced studying or researching in the university that you are thinking of going to will be able to tell what kind of facilities he or she has worked in and whether or not they were suitable to his or her studies.
These four reasons ultimately wrap up the benefits of talking to alumni in one word: knowledge. You will be able to get to know perspective schools, colleges and universities past what they write on their website and publications, and this will greatly help you in deciding where and what to study.
Have you spoken to an alumnus before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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