Dos and don’ts before applying for studying abroad
The number of Indians wanting to study abroad is growing exponentially. It wasn’t so high before the late 80s as most Indians either went to the US or the UK to pursue higher studies and even their numbers were fewer.
It is said that approximately 300,000 students leave Indian shores every year to study abroad, more particularly in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) member states, where educational institutions’ infrastructure is way much better than one can get in India.
According to Business Insider, the numbers are expected surge by 50 percent in the next five years. However, reports of some Indian students being deported from New Zealand, of late, and from a few universities from the US in the past have also been in the news. If one is cautious, she/he would not be in the same situation
India Today carried an article in mid-January which advises students on what precautions they could take to avoid such unpleasant things from happening to them.
Let us have a look at each of the points that were made there:
There are more than 100 universities across the globe which offer attractive courses in different disciplines such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), mechanical engineering, civil engineering, arts and humanities (archaeology, anthropology, applied psychology, music, fine arts, languages, theology, photography, economics and so on) vocational studies, etc.
Before applying, get down to researching on the content of courses you want to pursue by going through them in each of the universities which offer them. Of course, it goes without saying that precedence should be given to universities that offer specialisations in your course area.
But do not go overboard by applying to more universities than necessary, for it may lead to confusion and other attendant issues. It would be better if you narrow your list to four to five universities and apply only there. In the bargain, you save your time as well as money.
If you think you want to be a journalist, ask yourself if you like the fame and other perks that are attached to it or that you really are an inquisitive person who always keeps ears to the ground to find out what is happening around you and why? If the latter is your answer, you should take it up. That is why enormous introspection must go into what you choose as your career option. This is truer for people who have not made their mind up yet. In fact, such people might be easily swayed away by the opinion of the people who they look up to. That could be dangerous as they may end up in a profession that is ill-suited for them. After all, only you can take a call on what is most apt for you based on where your aptitude and interests lie.
For instance, in South India, most people are coaxed into opting for either engineering or medicine as soon as they finish schooling by their parents or other people close to them. People are still impressionable at that age, particularly in our country where people are not provided with enough avenues to know what they are in for if they choose a certain discipline. It might have changed now, with the Internet revolution, but India is unfortunately not there yet in many other aspects. That is why we see many people in India making career decisions even at the age of 25.
Another major pitfall to avoid is to zero in on a university because your best friend is opting for it or most of your relatives may be located in a place close to it, and you think you can be safe and happy there. Tough decisions ought to be taken in life. There is no getting away from that for anyone.
If there is a certain course in an area of your interest in a university which is far away from your loved ones, you should opt for it. Importantly, let go of ‘homesickness’ or you may have to repent for the rest of your life.
If a particular course at a university catches your attention, go ahead and start posting questions to people who are in that field already or contact the university directly and pose questions online. Do not hesitate here as your life is at stake. You could seek any kind of information, ranging from course options, internship, and possible part-time job openings that you could pursue or more.
Most reputed universities in these advanced countries would be having a special counselling division to help out international students.
Do not make the mistake of going by rankings of universities published in magazines or the Internet. These are all subject to change owing to certain extraneous factors. Some universities may excel in certain courses, but because of their weak track records in other departments, it causes them to not figure in top listings. This may make you pass over this university for a ‘better’ university, but which may not be renowned for the course of study you are opting for. So, take a call by basing your judgements on what that particular educational institution is offering value in by carefully pouring over the components of the course you want to pursue.
Being carried away by a university’s reputation is one booby trap most of us are prone to falling into. Be honest with yourself in certain areas: you may be competing against people who have better academic scores and have certain qualifications which may give them an edge over you. It is not exactly undermining oneself, but a case of keeping your expectations realistic. Once you get to the developed nations, chances are given to you to surpass your own expectations.
Also, ensure that you have a fall-back option if a course you very dearly wish to enrol in is not open to you. Sometimes, you may have to look at the financial resources at your disposal. They may constrain you from opting for the course of your choice. In this case too, keep a second-best (or create one, if you don’t have any) option open for yourself. You may excel in it and who knows you may end up liking it! There may be other fields you may be good at but were not aware of.