Going abroad for higher education is an extremely crucial step that needs to be carefully calculated and measured before even considering the decision. However, there are several myths about the related subject that runs within our circles that extinguishes our desires to pursue an exciting college life abroad. Here are a few myths that need to be rebuffed.
#1 Way out of My Budget
One of the most common myths that demoralize a student is the affordability factor. Education abroad is not as expensive as we think it to be. In fact, it can sometimes (and in most cases) cost similar or even less than what students pay to study at their national university; there is an assortment of scholarships, financial aids and loans available exclusively for students. When students plan ahead, it becomes easier to take the correct decision on how to approach a university or college abroad.
#2 Study Abroad is only for Language and International Relations Majors
All subjects can be taught through a global lens. Study abroad is for all majors, and students in every field will benefit from a global experience. Historically, most programs embraced the humanities, but today only 11.3 percent of students who study abroad major in the humanities and only an additional 5.6 percent major in languages. More colleges are offering or even require international stints for students in social sciences (22.9 percent), business (20.5 percent) and engineering/math/sciences (13.2 percent).
#3 The Education System is Universal
Also, students in India are under the misconception that every country apart from India has a similar education system. During a seminar, an undergraduate student who wanted to pursue Psychology was asked "So, have you decided where you want to study Psychology majors, Oxford or Cambridge", to which she naively answered "Aren't all programs alike? I only need to select my favorite university, right?" Sadly, this reflects the present outlook about overseas education among Indian students.
Students in the country are largely unaware of the different modes of learning employed abroad which are markedly different from what we use here. Therefore, only proper research with active interest will allow the student to find out what is done differently in the host country.
#4 I should first Decide which Country I want to go to
Another common answer that students give when asked about their study abroad plans is "it depends". What their plans depend on is obscure because in most cases, students say that they are not sure about the course or country they would like to pursue their studies from. Rather, what students need to understand here is that the choice of country or university depends on his interest and aptitude.
Before you make any further plans, one has to be really sure about the choice of course he is going to opt for. Instead of opting for the country that one intends to study in ï¿½ the difference in approach being a result of the purpose of the visit, which is another subconscious misconception. It is very different from going on a vacation, which brings us to myth #5
#5 Studying Abroad is all about Partying and Having Fun
It is about studying, learning and building valuable skills. There is no doubt that some students view studying abroad as a vacation, going just to party, drink and enjoy with other students. Some programs are run more like glorified vacations, shuttling busloads of American students from one sight to the next. But times are changing, and study abroad is so much more than that. It expands personal horizons while opening up a world of personal and professional opportunities. Although it should be fun, it is also a serious undertaking that will challenge students on a personal level and have an impact on their academic career. Studying abroad includes taking classes, preferably taught by local professors on locally-relevant subjects -- and in the local language if possible. Students will learn about different education systems and ways of teaching. They will find themselves challenging their own ideas and beliefs once they have had a chance to experience an alternate perspective. Students will learn how to appreciate different cultures and solve problems while operating in an environment from what they are used to.
#6 Potential Employers do not Value Study Abroad
Employers increasingly require talents who can work cross-culturally and speak other languages. Studying abroad is one of the best ways for students to acquire marketable international qualifications, cross-cultural competency and proficiency in a second language. In addition to valuing the soft skills acquired while spending time abroad, employers need employees who can collaborate with others around the world. But just listing study abroad on a resume or in a cover letter won't cut it. Students must package their study abroad experience in a way that showcases what they have learnt. Organizations will need to know what an applicant did and learnt while abroad and how that experience can be brought to bear on the job.
Perhaps study abroad is not for you, and if that is the case, it's okay. But if you are saying "no" due to any of these misperceptions, do your research before making a decision. All programs are not equal, and study abroad agencies cannot possibly convey all the big and small things needed to know to make a decision or prepare a student for the experience and help students leverage what they have learnt once they return. The research put into the exercise needs to be immense and match the calibre of the course.