There are many factors to be considered when choosing your international study destination. Picking your subject and specialization area can be relatively straight forward basis the area you are interested in, or basis prior experiences. But how do you decide where to study?
While you can take every single quiz, read every single article and speak to every person under the sun about where might be right for you, really only you can make that decision where this is probably one of the biggest decisions in your life.
These are some of the key questions you should be asking yourself when deciding where to study.
What language do I want to study in?
Whatever language(s) you speak, check whether universities in your chosen country offer courses in it. Alternatively, if you have enough time, you could begin lessons in the language of the country you hope to visit..
You may have to take a language test and provide universities with your score in order to be accepted into the course or even into the country, so it’s definitely worth bearing in mind.
Check what the national language is, whether people speak English (or your mother tongue) on the streets, and of course which universities offer courses in languages you’re comfortable with. Whatever you do, do not assume. You need to ensure you’ll be able to communicate with people there.
What style of education am I looking for?
The teaching style you hope to receive is also an important factor in deciding where to study. Do you prefer to be left to your own devices and learn independently? If so a UK education may be more suitable. However, if you prefer more direction and guidance you may opt for an education in the USA. If you would like the best of both worlds Australia or Canada may be just the place.
Aditya, a student from India, who spent a year at California State University, puts it like this; “In the US it’s compulsory to go to all your classes and read every inch of the set texts, but not much outside of this. In the UK it is almost the opposite. Undergraduates are pointed in the right direction by their professors, but then left to their own devices to find the right resources and produce their own analysis.”
How difficult will it be to get a student visa?
Once you have narrowed down your options based on the language and style of the education you want it’s important to consider the factors outside of your control. One of these factors is student visas.
A student visa is mandatory for gaining entry to your chosen destination. The application process can vary depending on your chosen destination, your citizenship and your intended course of study.
You might want to choose a country that has an easy & straightforward process. Alternatively, you could just pay a little extra for a visa if it’s a country you’re really passionate about living and studying in. If this is the case, you’ll need to factor the visa into your costs and time schedule. This may ultimately sway you towards one country and away from another, perhaps even to your surprise!
Which destinations are the most affordable?
For many students the decision of where to study will simply come down to costs. An overseas education can vary greatly in cost. Not only can the cost vary between country, but also between regions in the same country.
Remember, tuition isn’t the only cost you’ll have to shell out; you’ll also need money for living costs, accommodation, travel, visas, food, textbooks
and other costs like health services and insurance. Be sure to factor all this in when making your decision.
Some destinations such as the UK and Canada offer free health services, so you should research and allow for factors such as these in your calculations.
There are plenty of handy websites like this which will give you a good idea of how much it costs on average to live in a certain city so you could try out a few cities in a few different countries and see how they compare.
You might save yourself a huge amount of money by looking around to see which universities and cities are within your budget.
Which are the universities and what are the courses offered?
You might want to study at a prestigious university – have a look at the US and UK which consistently top global rankings – or a specialist school. You might want a course that one specific country is renowned for delivering to an expert standard or a program so specific only a handful of universities across the world provide it.
Before you get your heart set on a country, seek out which universities from all over the globe offer exactly what you want in a course or institution and you may find your decision is made for you!.
You may lean towards a US-style diploma in which you don’t choose your major until after you start your studies, or you might have a clear idea of which course interests you and choose the UK-style route where you apply directly to the course.
What are the university entry requirements?
The other factor outside of your control is your acceptance into your chosen university. Considering the increasing numbers of students pursuing studies abroad, you will encounter a lot of competition to gain entry into the prestigious institutions.
Are there opportunities for employment after study?
An overseas education can help you find postgraduate work around the world. An education from the US and the UK is highly regarded and will no doubt improve your chances of finding work but with immigration, work permit and visa rules getting tightened everywhere, you should remain updated about the post-study work opportunities abroad. Make sure, you do your due diligence and adequate research.
Will culture shock be a problem?
Often the most overlooked factor when deciding where to study is culture shock. While culture shock should not put you off pursuing an overseas education it is important that you prepare for it, especially if your chosen destination’s culture varies greatly from your home culture.
Experiencing different cultures is one of the most exciting aspects of an overseas education. This experience can be both personally and professionally rewarding.
Whatever you decide just remember it is up to you. It’s your life and you’re the one who’s going to have to travel, live and study there. Good luck on choosing your study destination!