Not just a ticket to a career...

Not just a ticket to a career...
In the scramble for study abroad applications that starts every September, as to-do lists loom before your eyes, the task of turning your study abroad dreams into reality seems quite daunting. Yet with the help of a few clear timelines, this task becomes much more manageable.

For applicants to undergraduate programmes, the preparation starts during Class 11. During this year, students should focus on researching study abroad destinations and educational institutions, entrance tests required (SAT, IELTS etc.) and financial planning. The timeline on the right should help with a month-by-month plan for what goals to achieve in different periods of time in  a calendar year:

If this timetable seems like a Herculean task, the good news is that there is quality counselling available which goes beyond a laundry list of available choices. Often, the focus in applying for study abroad destinations is either the brand name of the university or fuelled by counsellors’ tie-ups with individual schools driving application decisions.

Instead, counselling must help applicants pick schools that have the right subjects and co-curricular choices which will help them on their education and career path. It must lay out the pros and cons of each college and degree choice, giving a high level view of the study abroad process.

On a micro-level, counselling should enable the applicant to visualise being part of the academic community in a state university, Ivy League school, liberal arts college within a large city or small college town, in warm, temperate or cold conditions, and thus help students make the right choices in their school selection and enable them to put their best foot forward during applications.

Studying abroad has always been about risk-taking and broadening your horizons by venturing into a new academic, social and cultural environment. However, assuming that the act of studying abroad alone is your ticket to a high-flying career has become a thing of the past.

In times of geopolitical changes like today, it is also essential to keep an eye on the study abroad destination and review its economic state, political events such as elections, university budget cuts, and hiring trends across industries. With thorough planning, timely execution, and strong support systems from your family and your counsellor in place, these milestones will no longer seem like a burden around your neck.

Rather, they will help you enhance your time management, prioritisation and communication skills — all traits that will stand you in good stead during your independent living experience as an international student in your dream university.

(The author is CEO, Stoodnt, Coimbatore)
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