Lakhs of Indian students are either aspiring to or have already applied to study at a foreign university later this year.
As a part of our study abroad series, we discussed how unexpected delays and scarcity of vaccines is affecting the higher education dreams of thousands of students.
The steep education costs and risk of fewer career opportunities is another worrying factor.
So before you sign up for any course or university, you must do your homework well, consider the purpose of your education, evaluate your financial health and understand all the risks involved.
If you are planning to travel abroad for your education this year or later or know someone who is, here's some practical advice to follow:
Useful tips for students from students
1. Research, research, research. Start planning at least a year or two in advance. Look for universities and courses that best meet your requirements.
2.Take your entrance examinations well in advance. Your scores will be valid for at least two years. This will also give you time to reappear if your scores are not up to the mark.
3. It's important to pick the right course in a good university, over a good, popular destination or country. Choose a course with good, experienced faculty, that also offers live projects and practical learning experience to help you grow in your career.
4. Start applying at least six months in advance. Processes that usually take two weeks, can be delayed by months due to the lockdown/pandemic, even a future one due to a next wave. So don't procrastinate and lose precious time thinking you have it all under control.
5. Before registering/signing up for the first dose of any vaccine, check with your college and official website of the country you will be visiting to ascertain your decision. Carefully read the terms and conditions on the official website, take necessary permissions and secure relevant paperwork before you travel from India.
6. If you haven'[t gotten admission in a college of your choice, wait for a few months. Don't pay full fees and opt for an online course. The experience of a classroom environment vis-a-vis virtual learning is not the same.
7. While looking for financial assistance, consider varying transaction, conversion rates and other bank charges. Be prepared to pay extra, maybe even double the amount you had in mind.
8. Keep your finances and documents in order.
9. Be ready to explain gap years on your CV, especially while applying for a visa to pursue a post-graduation education in certain countries. Without relevant work experience, relevant documents and recommendation letters from employers, the process may be delayed further, or even lead to rejection of application due to insufficient paperwork.
10. Apart from course fee, you must arrange funds for accommodation and living expenses, to cover you for the time you will spend in the new country. You will also have to open an account in a local bank and arrange for accommodation, before you plan your travel. Planning travel and flights may not be that easy either.
11. Once you secure admission, start networking with peers and faculty members to stay updated. Begin to apply immediately for research internships or on campus jobs.
12. Be a part of as many student help groups. Get all your doubts cleared before you sign up for any course.
13. Once you reach the university, don't restrict your communication to Indian students and groups alone. Try to mingle with international students to make your learning experience wholesome, enriching and more.