Every year, around 2 lakh Indian students go abroad to study. After China, Indian students are the biggest foreign student community in the world.
Studying abroad is a big decision and requires a lot of work to be done. You need to start all the preparation at least 8 months in advance In order to finish everything on time.
The first thing you must do is to select which colleges you are aiming for. Check out for universities offering the course you desire, their placement/job scenario, availability of financial aid, campus life and alumni network when making the choice. If you’re looking to work abroad, then you should also look the work visa issuing scenario.
Select Exams- GRE or GMAT?
The first thing to do when applying for Foreign Universities is to decide which exams would qualify you to pursue studying at your dream university. Majority of graduate schools accept GRE and most of the Business schools ask for GMAT. Both the GRE & GMAT are of comparable difficulty to the CAT, with slightly more easier quant sections and a tougher verbal ability sections. GRE/GMAT coaching can be coupled with CAT coaching in most instances.
For English proficiency, TOEFL and IELTS are both majorly accepted by universities abroad. Not all universities require a TOEFL/IELTS certification, especially if you are from an English medium school, so be sure to check that before giving the exam.
University Application Forms
Applications can be costly, so it’s best to apply to universities once you’ve gotten your GRE/GMAT scores. Almost all universities have applications available online and everything is electronic. Keep all your documents ready so that you can fill the applications quickly. Once you have filled the application, you need to make payment by a credit card and wait for the universities to reply. You may need to submit a few essays and letters of recommendations, so read on for that.
Essays & Statement of Purpose
Most colleges ask for essays or a statement of purpose. The main objective of a statement of purpose is to know the applicants better. In an SOP, you need to write about your achievements, why you want to pursue a particular programme and why is a particular college best for you. You are basically trying to sell yourself- why the college would benefit from you being there. Be sure to ask your friends/family to proof read the write up before submitting it.
Letters of Recommendation
Most colleges ask for 2 to 3 letters of recommendations. These recommendations can either be from your teachers at school or college or from your superiors at work. These can be quite hard to get in India- as most teachers are unwilling to write it themselves. You have to get a little creative and give them ample suggestions to ensure you get these on time.
Transcripts, Degrees & Mark Sheets
Other than financial documents, you will need a few more documents like mark sheets that should be attested by your college or university, official transcripts and you official degree certificate. These documents are a must and have to be submitted to universities that you are applying to. If you’re studying at a government college with the stereotypical staff, you’re going to be quite persuasive and persistent to get these.
An optional step, if you feel the process of arranging documents is too much work, you can opt for assistance from consultants. A lot of students pay for consulting and get all the work done but many students choose to carry out the entire process on their own. Princeton Review and Jamboree are 2 popular GRE/GMAT and foreign admission consultants in India.
Arranging the Funds
Probably the most important thing needed for studying abroad is money. Even though many colleges offer scholarships, waivers and assistantships to students, studying at foreign universities costs a lot. So you need to make sure you have arranged for the funds well in advance. Check out scholarships in India here.
Various financial documents are needed as a proof that you have enough money required to study abroad. Many students take loan from government or private banks or even from private agencies that specially provide educational loans for studying abroad. All these documents need to be ready well in advance for a smooth flow of preparation.
Getting the Visa
Once you’ve received an acceptance from a particular college and all your documents are ready, you need to apply for visa. A few applications have to be filled and for obtaining a visa, you will have an interview with the visa officer. The officer will ask a few questions and if everything goes fine, you’ll easily obtain your visa.
The Last Step- Celebrate
Voila! You’re all set to go. Enjoy your education abroad. Explore the country, soak in the culture and interact with students from across the world. Student abroad can be a very free and fulfilling experience.