Study Abroad: How to choose the right school

Post Date:- 08.01.08

Board exams are over -- the golden era of school days comes to an abrupt end. It's the time to comprehend a term so casually used before -- career.

It's the toughest part of life, trying to figure out where to start from. Unfortunately, in India careers are mostly decided by parents; students rarely get an opportunity to decide what they want..

It's a good idea to match your career options with your skills and preferences. Take your time and learn about the possible options and how to achieve them.

Your career actually begins with choosing a college. It is a big decision. The key is to remember that there's no such thing as a "perfect" college. You will need to find out the list of colleges and universities that match your preferences.

And one of the biggest issues is one increasingly facing Indian students. Should you sit for a competitive exam and qualify for a renowned college in India or should you go abroad? There are loads of confusing questions associated with this problem, so let's get started.

Explore

Explore your interests and take the time to find the college that's right for you. It's always better to do a bit of research before you go to any consultant. It makes his or her life easy too.

Shortlist

Once you have explored the options, start deleting those names that you don't find useful or promising. Find the college courses most interesting for you.

Decide the place you want to study

Once you have short listed the universities based on your choice of course, a big task still remains. You need to decide which country you want to go and why. Is it the paradise called United States or is it the United Kingdom? Or the lovely country called Australia? You need to do a SWOT analysis [Strength, Weakness, Opportunity & Threat] which will help you to reduce your list even further.

A useful look at these few factors may make you feel much more relaxed:
Which Courses do you want to study
Does it match with your desired career option
Are there any job/placement opportunities
How are the lecturers/professors
How is the Alumni relationship
Are there activities outside the classroom

There's no general agreement about which of these factors are ranked more important. However, one has to keep in mind a few more factors before taking a plunge.

Be realistic

I have seen parents coming up and saying I want to send my son to US as my neighbour's son has gone there. It's always better to be realistic and find out which would be the best option for you. In your case it could be Australia or it may be UK. US might not be a good option at all for you. So please do not get carried away by what others have done or said.

Budget

It is good to have aspirations. Keep in mind your budget, too. A lot of parents look for a bank loan or scholarships -- I'll come to that later -- as a means to fund his/her son/daughter's higher academic desires. Please keep this in mind: bank loans are not gifts but a liability to be repaid back. One needs to be practical to decide on the country and the course based on his/her financial standing.

Bank Loans

A number of nationalised banks offer Educational loans for students aspiring to go overseas. It needs to be remembered: banks only provide a loan once they are sure of its repayment.

Scholarships

A word of wisdom -- never ever depend on a scholarship for overseassStudy. The reality is not every one gets it though every one wishes to get it. It depends greatly on your university and partly on your merit. . Our advice is: if you get it, good, but never depend on it.

Misconceptions

We receive at least 40-50 enquiries every day asking us to arrange for a scholarship or a bank loan. It needs to be clarified that no consultant can organise for a scholarship directly. They can assist or guide you to get one. The same is true with a bank loan.

A consulting company can refer your request for a loan to a bank but it is entirely the discretion of the bank whether you are eligible for a loan or not. I have personally received enquiries like this: "Please tell me which University offers a loan for students?" I want to drive home this point straight away "No University offers loans to foreign students." There are grants/bursaries for students of the home country.

Tomorrow: Part II

Raj Ganguly is CEO of Raj Ganguly and Associates (Management Consultants). He is an overseas education expert


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