All in one preparation for study abroad!

In recent years, studying abroad has become an increasingly attractive option. While many dream about it, only a few make these dreams reality. To be amongst them, read on… Planning is the key to the entire process. One can significantly increase his chances of making it to a great university abroad by simply focusing on the right things at the right times. There’s no point of spreading oneself out too thin and resorting to multiple sources at once. You are only likely to be overwhelmed and confused with all that comes toward you. The first thing you need to do is gauge whether a foreign education is for you -- academically and otherwise.

Rohan Ganeriwala Founder

Talk tostudents, alumni and possibly professors from the institutions you areconsidering to acquire an understanding of what you might be getting yourselfinto. Accordingly, gauge whether you would be interested in pursuing the optionfurther. Next, talk to your parents and make your goals and plans clear to themwhile explaining to them the details, merits and demerits of the programs. Youand your family need to take a hard look at yourselves financially andascertain whether you will require external financial assistance or not.

Now thatyou’re firm on studying abroad, you need to strategize. For this, find aneducational consultant who understands you and your goals and is committed tohelping you realise them. The ideal counselor will give you a comprehensiveunderstanding of the application process, help you identify the bestinstitutions for you, and assist you with the preparation of a timeline forstandardized tests (SATs, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) and essays.Prepare well for the standardized tests but account for time that may berequired for a second or third attempt (with high costs, you should look toavoid them as much as possible). Essays are a crucial component of theapplication and you will need time to write and perfect multiple drafts. 

Universitiesabroad seek holistically developed individuals, so you’re going to need a lotmore than just good test scores and recommendations. You will need to startbuilding your profile from a young age by pursuing your strengths andinterests. A typical profile includes project work, summer internships,extra-curricular activities and volunteer work. If you already know where youwant to go professionally, you could also start networking with individuals in theindustry to understand the skill set required to succeed and begin working ondeveloping those skills. This could help you land valuable summer internshipsin college that could lead to full-time jobs upon graduation.

Understandthe details of the application process very well. Sometimes colleges havenuanced differences in their application processes that might need to customizeyour application accordingly.

Help yourschool/ college understand how to draft transcripts and recommendation letterthat would portray you in the best possible light. Don’t hesitate to contactadmissions committees with doubts. They are always happy to help and might evenshare information that may not be on their websites. Not just that, you mightalso gain an edge over competition by creating some recall value for your selfin the committee.

Work on yourapplications in such a way that you have a month’s time to go over all yourdetails and possibly edit some essays as well. Once satisfied with your work,compile all documents and mail them out or submit them online well in advanceof the deadline. An early submission of an application gives you a betterchance of being interviewed and sharing a side of yourself you were unable toin the applications. Also, if you achieve or do something significant in theperiod between submission and decisions, make sure you contact the admissionsoffice and update them.

Don’t be toohard on yourself when it comes to adjusting socially and making friends. Try --as much as possible -- to be yourself. The more you try to put up anappearance, the more awkward and different you will appear to others. It’s okayif you’re not dressed like everyone else, or not in the popular clique.Relationships take time to develop and you can’t expect to forge ties like theones you had with your friends back home within weeks. 

Studyingabroad is not about the fun, games, glitz and glamour of being in a first-worldcountry. It is a serious life-decision. You’re there for a reason -- to grow tobecome an independent and resilient individual and push yourself to discoverand realise the potential that may have never known you had. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offering exciting experiences ranging from learningabout new cultures, speaking a new language, making new friends from diversesocio-economic,political and ethnic backgrounds, to discussing issues you mightnever have considered. With each of them, you can discover a new side ofyourself, but it’s down to you to seize every moment.  

The writer, Mr.Rohan Ganeriwala, is the Co founder of Collegify, a college consulting companyto study abroad.

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