Taking up a course of study in an international university comes with its fair share of insecurities.
But how many of those fears are really true? Let's find out.
Illustration by Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Studying abroad is gaining popularity due to the positive impact it has on a student's holistic development.
Schools and colleges are encouraging their students to explore academic opportunities abroad.
Many invite admission counsellors, education advisors to address senior classes to explain the various aspects and facets of an overseas education.
However, the thought of children making this significant shift no doubt unsettles parents.
Take it easy, not all that you hear or anticipate is true. It’s time to cure the concerns and break the myths.
Myth #1: Study abroad is expensive
Fact: Since costs depends on several relative factors like the university, location, duration of the program etc. you can have your take accordingly.
When finalising on the universities, do consider whether it suits your study abroad budget. If not, next look for the ROI.
If you plan your finances well, it will not be a future burden. You can enjoy studying abroad without enduring financial stress by being cautious regarding redundant expenditures. Be discrete in your spending and try to cut costs by adopting a lifestyle which will allow you to save.
Moreover, you can work part time to earn extra money as well as gain some work experience.
How you choose to budget yourself during you study abroad stint will influence your overall expenses and ROI.
Myth #2: It’s difficult to find scholarships for international students
Fact: There are scholarships available for international students based on merit or other criteria.
Governments of countries like USA, UK, Australia, Japan, and a few European countries are acknowledging exceptional performance of international students by granting funds, financial rewards and scholarships to develop and promote international education.
There are also a few scholarships sponsored by global, national, regional organisations that would allow you to study in any country.
In addition, one of the most common scholarships awarded by universities are in the form of full or partial waiver on tuition fees for outstanding international students.
Myth #3: Employers do not give importance to study abroad
Fact: Statistics say that around 59 per cent employers consider a study abroad experience invaluable for any organisation.
Here are some advantages that employers associate with study abroad candidates:
- International exposure
- Great social skills
- Strong problem solving skills
- Advanced communication skills and language proficiency
- Understanding of cross-cultural dynamics
- Flexibility and adaptability
Myth #4: Travelling alone gives you the same experience
Fact: One of the fascinating aspects of study abroad is the opportunity for cultural immersion.
You gain a deep insight into the tradition and lifestyle of local communities. Furthermore, you are in a classroom with students from across the globe. It broadens your horizon as you interact with locals on campus and outside, hence understanding the various facets of other cultures.
Moreover, educational excursions unlike tour companies earmark specific landmarks within the city and in the country side where students get to learn about the history, growth of a country, root of local customs and conventions.
Myth #5: I’ll have no friends and feel lonely
Fact: It is the best opportunity to advance your social skills, broaden your social network, make new acquaintances and friends.
In fact, you will be ushered into your circle of peers through orientation programs and various team building activities.
Even before you realise, you’ll be part of your clique. One of the conscious attempts of study abroad programs is to promote cultural exchange. And this experience will be instrumental in shaping your personality, and instilling you with greater understanding of people, appreciation for differences and diversity and harbouring a spirit of fellow-feeling towards all.
Myth #6: I’ll have language problems
Fact: English is the medium of instruction in most foreign universities. However, when you are applying, look for any language pre-requisites or criteria prescribed by your university.
Apart from academic centric language issues, being exposed to a new language or different English in a foreign country is an immense opportunity to enhance your linguistic proficiency.
The most effective and fastest way to language learning is to acquire it in a natural context. Furthermore, you will attain near native fluency in English that would enrich your communication skills.
Myth #7: Besides academics, there’s nothing else to do
Fact: The campus is a hive of activities. Education in foreign universities is not restricted to academia but to developing a well-rounded personality.
There are a myriad of clubs and courses after regular classes on creative art, performance art, photography, music to name a few.
You’ll be trained by world-class faculty who are renowned in their respective fields. Even if you do not have a specific hobby, you’ll be inspired to develop one.
Myth #8: International/Indian students get neglected
Fact: Professors are more like mentors than teachers, very approachable and eager to help students resolve issues related to academics or otherwise.
The education culture in foreign universities is based on the ideology of unhindered learning and creating a conducive ambience to maximise students’ development.
They believe that for effective learning in no way should students feel threatened; this philosophy holds true for everyone irrespective of their nationality, community or cultural preference.
Moreover, you’ll be surprised at how wonderfully and spontaneously local students accept you and offer their assistance for just anything.
Myth #9: US Universities accept only those with outstanding academic performance
Fact: Universities abroad welcome students who have demonstrated versatile capabilities.
Academic performance is only one of the many criteria for evaluation. While universities look for good grades, they are more interested in well-rounded individuals.
Most college applications ask about the activities that you are involved in during your free time, as it shows traits that grades alone are not able to demonstrate.
For example, what are you passionate about? Are you a leader? What you do after school, during weekends and over summers tells the college admission team a lot about the kind of person you are.
If you volunteered at a local NGO, it shows your dedication to helping people.
If you interned at a bank, it shows you have an interest in finance and are passionate about getting more hands-on experience. Hence, besides academic calibre, the applicant’s versatility is also taken into consideration.
Myth #10: Studying abroad is no longer safe
Fact: Universities have an obligation towards the safety and security of their staff and students.
To this purpose, they implement strict regulations to ensure safety on and off campus. According to the policy, staff/students must adhere to all safety norms and obligations.
For negligence on the individual’s part, and depending onthe gravity of the circumstance, the university will take strict disciplinarian action.
However, just as anywhere in the world you need to keep your eyes and ears open, studying abroad will be no different. Be alert and cautious, follow rules and safety will not be an issue.
When the stakes are high, there are concerns; and concerns give way to misconceptions.
Studying abroad indicates a significant change in your life and you’ll have to be thoroughly prepared for the challenges.
In the process do not let wrong ideas mar your determination. Do your research and be ready to get, set and go.
This article is written by Vibha Kagzi, founder and chief education officer, ReachIvy.com