UPDATE: Read our updated practical guide to choosing your course.
Deciding which course you’d like to study is part inspiration, and part hard work. That hard work is the effort you need to spend finding out more about every opportunity available to you – and then comparing them to make the best decision for your future.
This article will guide will guide you through the best ways to research your courses options… and make sure you don’t waste any time in making that important choice!
Step 1. The inspiration
We all have a dream of where we’d like to work or what we’d like to do with our lives. International education is a great way to achieve your dream. So once you’ve decided what course or program you need to study to get there, and you’ve made sure that it’s a realistic goal, where do you go next?
Step 2. Put your mouse to work
You don’t need to leave your desk to find out more about the options available. Many students start with Google, but why not check out StudyLink first, for an independent guide to over 80,000 study abroad courses. Unlike Google, it’s designed especially for students like you and there are lots of handy tools to make comparing courses easier. Here’s a few ways it can help you:
Save a shortlist of favourite courses from different countries. Personalise your search by country, subject and level of study, save it, and return to it later on for an overview of all your favourite options – even if you’re still deciding between the UK, USA, Canada or Australia. Or even 20 other countries!
Compare universities or courses by ranking or costs. It’s quicker to eliminate unsuitable programs this way.
You may have a long list of course options after your first few visits to StudyLink, so here are some other ways to narrow it down.
Step 3. Visit university websites
Some university websites are huge and complex, but most have a section dedicated to international students where you can find out more about the services they offer.
Look for information about student support – will they help you find accommodation, do they organise trips and activities to help you settle into your new home? They may have video interviews with current students, or links to student blogs, where you can get a sense of what it’s really like to study and live there. They should also have details about visas, scholarships and tuition fees so you know exactly what your investment will be.
Step 4. Chat with an education agent
You may feel more comfortable using a local education agent to arrange your application. Just make sure you already have some information on your shortlist of courses and preferred destination, so you can ask specific questions to narrow your choice further. StudyLink has more information to help you choose the best education agent.
Step 5. Check out any local events
Many universities run roadshows or visit your country for education fairs. It’s a great way to meet representatives in person and ask even more questions!
Step 6. Ask your friends and family
There’s a good chance you already know someone who has studied overseas, so don’t be afraid to ask for their advice – even if they chose a completely different field of study. What’s the one thing they wish they’d thought about before they made their final decision?
Step 7. Visit your destination’s education sites
Make sure you understand what it will really be like to live in that country, and what you’ll need to do to get a visa. Check out the education websites for destinations such as the UK, Australia, the US and Canada, and learn more about student experiences, what you can do once you graduate, and how you can make sure the university you choose has a quality reputation.
Step 8. Narrow your search further
You can now narrow your long list down to a few options. If you’re still wondering which way to go, write down a list of the criteria that are most important to you, such as:
Rank each of these in order of importance, then use all the research you have gathered to decide where each option sits on this scale. And hey presto, you’ll have a winner!
Step 9. Go back to StudyLink
In some cases, you may be able to apply online directly through StudyLink. Easy! In others, you’ll find a link to the best admissions contact, whether it’s the international office or an education agent. Then you can make your application, and start getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
Good luck with your decision, and with your studies, and do let us know how you get on.
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