Figuring out where to study and how to get into your favourite school is tough even when you are just deciding between universities in your home country – but it’s infinitely harder when the whole world is your playground. Here are five handy tips for making your study abroad plans a reality.
Choose the best country to study abroad
With at least 195 recognized countries in the world, trying to decide where to head for your bachelor’s or master’s degree isn’t so easy. But if you want to stay within the biggest countries of the English-speaking world, the decision is a little easier. Your options are narrowed down to the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. You may also want to keep the UAE in mind, as many British and American universities have campuses there.
Decide which universities fit you well
Once you know which country you are interested in, go online and do a Google search for universities there. This is easiest to do if you have an idea of what you’d like to study – is it business, engineering or maybe mathematics? Find out which universities and colleges are most coveted in your field, and learn all you can about these institutions. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and try to see which schools would be good fits for you. Go on the universities’ Facebook sites and ask questions from current students, graduates and staff. It may even be helpful to call the university’s international advisor for additional information.
Learn about the requirements of the study abroad programs
Every university and study abroad program has its own entry requirements. Most require a personal essay and translated transcripts from previous schools, but some also want to see recommendations and even conduct Skype interviews. Many countries require bank statements that serve as proof that the foreign student can pay for his or her studies. You can usually find the various requirements listed on the schools’ websites. If you come from a non-English speaking country, a language proficiency examination will almost certainly be needed. For American universities and colleges, this exam is usually TOELF (Test of English as a Foreign Language), while schools in the UK more often rely on the IELTS (The International English Language Testing System).
Send in your application
Once you have gathered all the necessary documents together, you will need to send off your study abroad application. It’s good to apply to at least 3-6 schools to ensure you will get accepted somewhere, and those universities should be evenly divided into three categories: “reach”, “target,” and “safety” schools. This means that you should apply to some aspirational universities that seem to be out of your reach, some schools that are just right for you based on your grades, and also a few for which you are overqualified. In most countries you will need to send your application separately to each university, and pay their application fees. European countries, including the UK and Ireland, are exceptions to this: in the UK all uni applications are made through the UCAS website (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). You can apply to five different study abroad programs simultaneously. In Ireland all applications are handled by the CAO (the Central Applications Office).
Enlist the help of SchoolApply.com
If all of this seems overwhelming, there is also an easier solution: you can sign up with SchoolApply.com, a site that connects international students with schools abroad. SchoolApply currently has more than 4,000 universities and colleges in its database, and you can apply to several of them with just one initial online application. Afterward you will be assigned a personal education advisor who will review your application, ask for supporting documents and send your application to the institutions. SchoolApply’s administrative fee for these services is just $50 per student.
Mirva Lempiäinen is a blogger at SchoolApply.com, a site that connects international students with top universities abroad. To learn more about the services of SchoolApply, visit their website.