Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a very famous French writer once said,"A goal without a plan is just a wish." This is very true, especially for students planning to pursue their studies abroad. When Nidhin Mathew, a budding engineer, decided to pursue an M.Sc Mechanical Engineering from Birmingham City University in UK, he ensured that he and his family had planned out each and every detail- from the selection of the course to the financial payments. By planning everything out he was able to achieve his goal but for those without a plan, going abroad just remains a daydream.
The need of the hour for students planning to pursue their studies abroad is accurate research. While they are advised to do a check on their finances, it is also important that they must identify the proper course, university, and country which will cater to their requirements. Although most Indian students have been primarily going to the U.S., UK, Australia and Canada, there are also a good number of students going to newer destinations such as Singapore, Ireland, Germany, Dubai and others. Although, most students go abroad to study engineering, technology or management courses, there are many who opt for Life Sciences, Art, Literature and other degrees as well.
Right Information helps in Making Better Decisions
While the information on the various courses and the universities were easily available on the university websites, Nidhin ensured that he researched extensively which would help him lay out his plans to study abroad. Through voluminous research students can identify relevant information such as elective modules to choose, probable research interests and others, thus aiding their efforts in selecting the right course. It is also important for students to understand that courses offered in foreign Universities are not necessarily the same as in India. Universities in some countries allow students to specialize in very niche areas especially at a post graduate level. For example, a business graduate looking to specialize in Marketing need not have to look at just the conventional MBA or Masters in Marketing but can also look at a course in Consumer Behavior or Marketing Analytics if those are areas that interest him.
Students can access various online facilities such as virtual campus tours of Universities, social communities where students can chat with current students and even faculties and alumni. Nidhin and his parents were able to utilize such opportunities to understand the options of going abroad from all angles, gather information, and make an informed decision. The use of online facilities will help them in making the transition to study abroad relatively smoothly.
While it is important for students to do all their homework, they must also understand that the courses in these foreign universities are taught very differently. Most of these courses place less emphasis on class room study and more on assignments and self study. Plagiarism is considered major offence abroad and therefore students must keep in mind not to plagiarize their assignments. Further, many students are also not aware about scholarships. It has been reported that sometimes the scholarships go unclaimed as students are unaware of them. Although most scholarships are competitive, they are fairly substantial and sometimes cover the whole tuition fee. Therefore, it is important for students to be aware of these options and also send their applications early on in the admission cycle as most of them do have early deadlines.
Once abroad, students need to utilize their time abroad effectively by not limiting themselves to smaller social groups and keeping themselves open for new experiences. They should try and soak in as much of the cultural offerings of the destination, explore different workplace requirements and acquire the necessary soft skills - something that will give them the necessary life skills which will eventually contribute positively to their lives. Most Universities have orientation sessions for students to help them adapt to these changes and students should make it a point to attend these sessions. In most countries students studying full time are allowed to work part time during their studies. They are usually able to find work in order to support their living expenses.
Many of the concerns that students have are common and they are mostly due to ignorance, misinformation and lack of adequate homework. It is important for students to first identify the need to study and try and isolate it which will lead them to have a successful career. They need to keep an open mind, weigh out the pros and cons, and try and make as informed decision as possible. The importance of receiving the right advice from the right people is crucial and should not be overlooked. (Taken from an email interaction between Dylan D'Souza and Kamal Kant)