Study Abroad – A Complete Guide


Thoughts on visiting abroad have definitely excited you, didn’t it? Then how exciting it would be if you get a chance to study abroad.

The following reasons will help you understand that is it a good idea?

⇒ It opens so many opportunities for various kinds of courses, languages, cultures, people, etc.

⇒ The degree you earn from a foreign university just enhances your resume.

⇒ Students who study abroad are molded in a unique way where they take up new challenges like never before, broaden the scope of the subject pursuing.

⇒ Students get better exposure to different kinds of situation and resolve them at their own level. Also, you get a chance to know other countries which wouldn’t have been possible with studying in India itself.

Some suggestions and tips for abroad education are:

⇒ You need to choose the right college for yourself abroad, keeping in mind the course you wish to pursue, the university you want to go and the costs that need to be covered

⇒ Scholarships are the best way for abroad education which can be partly – funded or fully – funded scholarships like in the case of Sweden.

Some perks of foreign education are:

⇒ R&D facilities and the faculties of different universities are way too advanced and better.

⇒ Many students try to get to the US to study the STEM subjects – if you wish to pursue engineering in the US then you may never know, you can even secure a job in Google or other big MNC’s like Microsoft, Wallmart, Oracle, etc.

⇒ Foreign education also helps students to learn a new language.

⇒ You get to learn to live alone without a proper home and be independent by earning your own living.

⇒ Increase the scope of job employment in your home country.

This brings me to an interesting story of Tom Stagliano’s son, he says, “Highly recommended for at least a term.

⇒ My son (graduated from Villanova in Business in 2014) attended the University of Melbourne in Australia for January through June of his junior year. This program was put together by Villanova and emphasized international business and the coursework counted towards the core requirements of his major.

⇒ WPI, a technical college on the quarter system, has every undergraduate spend a quarter with a group of WPI students in a foreign country working on a unified project (new sewer system or enhanced transit system, etc)

⇒ The University of Richmond in 2008 announced that they wanted every single one of their undergraduates to spend at least a term abroad if not a year.

⇒ I spent a month abroad as part of an extended Co-Op program, working with a British aircraft company.

⇒ MIT now has a full exchange program with the University of Cambridge in England.

⇒ It is a connected world. One needs to get out and explore and learn with others.

⇒ However, to spend all four years abroad in a foreign college…. no. No need for that.”

So you see, it’s not even necessary to complete all 4 -5 years to study abroad, you can even give it a try for a semester or term and decide whether abroad education is worth it or not. It will also answer questions about how much capacity you’re staying alone and away from your family.

The question of studying abroad occurs mostly after they complete their 12th class. Some questions that may arise are:

⇒ What is the reputation of the university I am applying abroad?

⇒ Do I wish to come back to my home country after the course or get a job there?

⇒ What are the various job prospects in my field? Where would I get good pay – my home country or abroad?

The answers to these questions are:

⇒ The reputation of a college is important to your career, as a good university can give you a better placement, and it is only possible when the college is reputed.

⇒ There are a lot of good job opportunities abroad than in India if we take it as a home country but still have a background of foreign education is always preferred in India for jobs and businesses.

⇒ This is related to the above answer that if a student after graduating gets a job abroad, they will earn more than how much they will in India. Hence you need to make a choice of what kind of career you wish to pursue.

After analyzing the benefits of the idea of studying abroad, here are some things you need to qualify certain international exams listed below:

⇒ GRE: Graduate Records Examination, this exam is given by graduate students who wish to pursue MS in the US, many universities there ask for GRE general test score excluding some universities who ask for GRE test score.

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language, It is a compulsory general exam given, it is for international students. All the students who belong to a non-native English speaking country are required to give this test, India being one of them. You can obtain special classes for this course available in different parts of India.

IELTS: International English Language Testing System, it is a similar test for English language, given by students whose native language is not English, many universities see this score along with TOEFL and only focus on either one of them.

MCAT: Medical College Admission Test, it is a test for students who wish to pursue medical studies in countries like USA, Australia, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands.

LSAT: Law School Admission Test, those of you who want to pursue law abroad must give this exam.

Along with the exam scores, the universities see a number of other things listed below:

SOP: Statement of Purpose, it is a major document if you want to stand out in the rat race to get your favorite university. In order to be in line with the competition and eligible for the MS application in the US, it is very important that you write the best SOP of all.

The SOP should be to the point and what are your expectations from the course and university.

LOR: Letter of Recommendation, it is often obtained from the university you previously studied in, it gives the abroad university a personality picture of you by the eyes of someone else.

An exciting LOR gives students a better chance to get selected in the university. Most universities prefer two to three LOR.

Essays: this is another deciding factor for selecting students. The numbers of essays depend from university to university. The topics are generally of student’s interest, they need to submit 2 to 4 essays.

Academic Scores: – Lastly it is important to file all the academic scores like your primary, secondary, senior secondary, etc exam scores.

The documents that are required for the application form are as follows:

⇒ Academic scores for the qualifications listed in the admission form

⇒ GRE/TOEFL/GMAT/IELTS score proofs

⇒ Recommendation letters from your previous universities ( minimum 2-3)

⇒ Statement of Purpose

⇒ Photo Copies of your passport

⇒ Work experience and internship certificates, if required

⇒ Certificates for extra-curricular activities mentioned in the application form.

⇒ WES Evaluation documents, if asked by the college.

Now we will see how to write an SOP, here are a few guidelines:

⇒ The first and foremost term comes you’re writing an SOP for which stream? Eg. The SOP for MS and MBA will be very different and with different formats, so it is important to keep in mind of which stream you’re writing about.

⇒ An SOP should be a piece of writing which makes you unique from the others and don’t mistake it with a resume, take your time and write it in a day or two.

⇒ Starting with you need to make a list of things you want to include in your SOP, it could include your both short term and long term goals, followed by the next step i.e. choose the theme of your SOP which means the sequence of your thought process and how you wish to design it.

⇒ The next step is editing what you’ve written which will need the previous list you’ve made. It will bring you the questions what you’ve to include in your SOP and what not to.

The next step is to research about the university you’re going to apply in and writing various interesting things about the university creates a positive impact on the reader, also including the point why you want to join that particular college.

⇒ The last step is to finalize your document by editing it or re-writing it, it is advised not to submit your first draft, try to make it your best piece of writing.

⇒ Some other tips are to check your grammar is flawless, the words are used carefully, highlight your extra-curricular activities and rewards as it adds up a positive impact, don’t copy your SOP from any website, write it in the first person, keep it crisp and tidy below or maximum to 1000 words.

Now you see, with all the glories and glamour abroad education it holds, it is not at all an easy task to live in foreign countries all by your own, and it is even more difficult if you haven’t stayed alone a single time for your entire life.

Let me tell you a story of my friend who shifted to Toronto, Canada to study:

⇒ She said that she had to do all her work by herself right from washing clothes to buying groceries and cooking food, all the things which are mom used to take care was gone.

⇒ Canada is a very cold country, and someone belonging from India would take time to acclimatize to the weather and so did my friend, she had a hard time getting used to cold weather.

⇒ She had a hard time to talk to me and her family because of the different time zones.

⇒ Whenever I have visited a foreign country it has always been a challenge for the conversion of Dollar to Rupee which is always a major concern to all the Indians, my friend often shared her stories of how she bought an expensive item for herself because of the conversion confusion.

⇒ In abroad universities, placements and internships are not found very easily, now she tries her best to find good jobs and internships in Toronto to earn well and also get the right experience.

While living in countries like US, UK, Australia it is important to follow rules of that particular country, as the rules are very strict there.

Here are a few precautions one should not forget:

⇒Always follow traffic rules, these countries abide by it strictly

⇒ Put on a seatbelt while traveling in a car

⇒ Stay alert and trust your intuition – if you feel a busy place is much unknown to you, just make sure you’re aware of the surroundings and if you feel uneasy you can go away

⇒ Keep your valuables safe with you as exposure to such contents may increase the chances of pickpocketing

⇒ Keep a low profile by blending yourself with the surroundings and not draw immediate attention that you’re a foreigner

Let us see a list of top colleges abroad:

⇒ Bangor University – it is located in Bangor, Maine.

⇒ University College London – the university has the highest number of postgraduate students in the world.

⇒ University of St. Andrews – it is located in Scotland and considered as one of the top 100 universities worldwide.

⇒ Imperial College London – this college has ranked at the top in Times New York Times list of universities, the students in this college graduate to get high salaries in different companies.

⇒ The University Of Melbourne – it is the second oldest university in Australia and is among the top 50 universities in QS world ranking.

⇒ Pierre and Marie Curie University – it is the largest scientific and medical laboratories in Paris, France named after the famous scientists Pierre and Marie Curie.

⇒ The University of Oxford – one of the oldest universities located in England.

⇒ Stanford University – it is a private research institute located in Stanford, California

⇒ Cambridge University – it is the second oldest university after Oxford University in England.

⇒ Harvard University – this institute is located in the US, it is one of the prestigious and oldest colleges in the US.

Along with this let us see the requirements to get into these colleges are:

⇒ In Oxford University the last date of application every year is 15th October, the condition is the undergraduate students can’t apply to both Cambridge and Oxford at the same time. Shortlisting is based on achieved or predicted test results, school references, and, in some subjects, written admission tests or candidate-submitted written essays.

The colleges then invite shortlisted aspirants for an interview, where they are provided with food and accommodation for about three days in December. Those who live far away have their interview online. After the interview, the offer is sent in January where the selected candidates receive the offer letter.

The GPA required is 3.7 to 4.0. The official page of this university has further listed the other admission requirements like the documents needed.

⇒ In Cambridge University Undergraduate application forms for Cambridge must be made through UCAS in time for the early deadline, presently mid-October in the year before starting.

♦ Most candidates who are called for interview will have been expected at least three A-grade A-level qualifications related to their chosen undergraduate course, or the same in other qualifications.

♦ Due to a very high proportion of candidates they receive of highest school grades, the interview process is crucial for distinguishing between the ablest candidates, so you need to buck up for the interview especially.

The interview is performed by College Fellows, who assess candidates on unexamined factors such as the potential for original thinking and creativity.

♦ The documents required are academic transcripts. The candidate is assessed on the written essays, interview, and academic scores. The written assessment is subject specific to what the students choose.

⇒ In Harvard University there is a requirement of SAT results and number of other things like the exam results of secondary school, Midyear school report, etc. they also have two teacher evaluation forms where you need two teachers from different subjects to fill the form.

The acceptance rate at Harvard University is very less so to make sure you get selected if you’re exceptionally good with the scores.

⇒ In Stanford University they look up at the financial aid for the students and it is a criterion for all international students’ evaluation except the US and you can also get a scholarship on need-based. The SAT scores are considered, along with TOEFL or IELTS.

⇒ In Imperial College London the GMAT/GRE score is seen in case of Management courses. Add awards and scholarships if you’ve had any, it glorifies your resume, makes sure your resume is strong and impressive it makes your chances better to get into the college. As mentioned above for all colleges write an impressive SOP along with the recommendation letters and essays. TOEFL/IELTS scores are also considered in the process.

University Of Melbourne – This college also have the similar requirements of language test scores like TOEFL along with the essays and SOP, they’re open to all kinds of international students across various undergraduate, graduate programs.

Links to some application forms for studying abroad:

Let us look at some case studies of students who went to study abroad, more of them sharing their experiences:

Dan, a Duke University junior, majoring in economics and computer science, is at present studying in Japan. As a sophomore, he was as puzzled as most students about his final career direction.

He was focused to become fluent in Japanese, so he decided to study abroad for a complete year, finding himself an apartment and blending himself in the local community.

♦ In abroad people were very impressed with him that he knew to speak Japanese, English, and French, then he realized early on that when you want to communicate despite a language barrier, you have to focus like a pro on what the person is trying to say.

♦ Another key benefit of Dan’s study abroad is the growth of maturity and self-awareness. Dan is enjoying the freedom and responsibility that comes all by living alone, in his own apartment, by his own rules.

Gagandeep’s story says, he is from Sonipat Haryana and it was not easy for him to go abroad and study, middle-class people, don’t really think to go abroad for education as it is very expensive.

♦ So he started shortlisting universities abroad under his budget along with the other requirements. He had met a counselor who had advised him to study in the UK as his chosen course was MBA

♦ He suggests that counseling is very important when it comes to studying abroad, as there are many universities all around the world so it is required that someone guides you the right path. He finally got into a university and had secured quite a good score in IELTS.

♦ He shares his experience that he got more independent and got to know about different cultures in the UK, made new friends from around the world, and also improved his communication skills.

Vijay shares his process to study abroad where he gave all the exams like TOEFL, GRE after he had two failed attempts at Masters for 2 years. He then researched about the universities, courses, scholarships and short-listed them and then he wrote the SOP which he was confident about.

After all the submission of the documents, it was time to select the 2 universities he got selected in CMU and TAMU. He had missed his family dearly abroad but also was thrilled with all the new experiences he got in this new world in the US ( he joined Texas A&M University )

Anirudh Chaturvedi has been to the US studying computer science in Carnegie Mellon University and he says, no one talks about grades there and students keep quiet about their accomplishments and scores, unlike India where everyone flaunts their scores like anything.

♦ As we have seen in movies that people in America do most of their tasks alone right from adding fuel to the car to shopping, even the counters are mechanized sometimes without a person sitting for billing purposes. The students there are very hardworking and deadlines for assignments are strictly followed.

♦ So he shares another fact that thin and healthy people are rich and fat people are poor as fast food is cheap there and the people there treat you based on your body shape. Thin people usually eat home-cooked food or from places where healthy food is available and being that healthy is very expensive in America.

So here you see, living in America and abroad makes you open to a lot of opportunities like meeting new people, cultures, languages, and one can understand very different ways of living, living in India is very easy if we see how the rules abroad are. A few tips lastly:

⇒ Meet students in your college from various countries and be friends

⇒ Choose your favorite stream and subjects.

⇒ Don’t be dependent on teachers for doubts when you have a big library filled with information

⇒ Learn concepts by practical knowledge and not books always

⇒ Get interactive in a class which makes you smarter.

⇒ Get a part-time job so that you’re able to spend your life abroad easily.

⇒ Also, portray your artistic skills as abroad creativity is given significant importance.


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