It is natural for us to be in a state of dilemma to make the best choice for us to pursue our education abroad in foreign universities. It is decisive and hence demands a lot of brainstorming. Students have faced unprecedented difficulties due to COVID-19. When all major institutions across the world shut abruptly due to the crisis, leaving students stranded and in shock exposing the dark side of study abroad and also showing the importance of making good choices. Essentially what problems are faced by students while opting for a college, how to deal with them and how things have changed lately due to the pandemic shall be pretty much clear to you by the time you complete reading this article.
Choice of University
The biggest of all decisions is choosing where to study as this has the most impactful consequences on our result. There are thousands of universities across the globe to choose from but the top travel destination for students include countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy and France. Every country has its own set of requirements but few things which can help us choose better are:
Is working along with a study on a student VISA allowed in that country or not?
How are the job prospects after completion of studies?
What are the living costs in that country?
What bank statement record is required throughout the study trip?
How safe it is for foreign students especially getting all records in this respect would be informative.
What is the scholarship perspective of that college?
There are some other personal factors as well. Every individual has a different liking towards culture and its people. Every country and the specific region has its own culture and way of life. We should be well aware of the region we are going to study as this would help us maintain a satisfactory level of life both personally and professionally.
It should be understood that every country would have the English language as a basic requirement for all foreign students coming to study there. The English language is considered to be the standard mode of communication in almost every part of the world. Despite this what we should be researching is that what is the native language or languages are spoken in that region and try to slowly acquaint ourselves with it.
For example let’s consider three locations UK, Canada and Italy. The United Kingdom is a dominantly English speaking nation and knowing how to deal with the British accent would solve our problem to almost every extent. Talking about Canada we should be aware that Canadian culture is a mix of British and French cultures. There are parts of Canada like Quebec City where French language information is almost a basic requirement because we won’t just stay on our campuses throughout our student life in any country. We have to go out, socialize, meet people, learn how to deal with them it’s all a part of regular life and if people around are not accustomed to English that would be very disastrous for us. Taking the last Example of Italy, in a country like Italy where Italian is almost in the veins of people we do not have an escape but to learn the language slowly and gradually.
Importance of Past academics
Various top-notch universities take an immense interest in the past academics of the candidate. Like what GPA he/she had while in high school while pursuing an undergraduate degree and so on. Apart from this certain standard exam scores such as TOEFL, IELTS scores and other English proficiency scores, SAT & ACT scores, GRE & GMAT scores are standard admission test scores. Some universities do not pay more attention to past GPA rather emphasize more on competitive exam scores. So the candidates should apply and decide accordingly depending on how good their grades are which would decide what college they might get into.
Safety and Security
The fact that being a visitor in a foreign land can be a matter of significant risk if not dealt with properly. There have been cases where students have been arrested and put behind the bars for violating the law of the land. This can happen unknowingly as well. The best way to tackle this is:
Be thorough with the immigration rules and the type of permit or VISA you have been given. Strictly adhere to the limits of that.
Learn the local customs.
There are places where you should not consume drugs, where you should not discuss certain topics in public like you do in your respective country, where you should not wear in appropriate dress or consume alcohol and many more. Learning local customs is important because it will help you know what offence and what is not.
Your passport is undoubtedly your ticket out of the country. Students should know who to approach when their passport is stolen, lost or any such unforeseen circumstances arrive. Students should be aware where in the country, there embassy/consulate is and how to be in touch with them.
Students should avoid participating in civil, political, local protests or unrest. This can come down heavily on to you if taken to custody and put a stain as well on the career. Research well about any college before entering it.
COVID-19 has added several layers of more security which students should learn. This includes VISA/permit restrictions, stay restrictions, physically attending classes’ restriction and more. Before going to any place it should be well understood what sort of regulations are expected by foreigners to be followed.
Some countries have made vaccination proof, COVID-19 symptoms free, etc health certificate proof’s mandatory before entering the country, in case the college you are trying to go falls under the category of any such country you should be prepared with the documents otherwise you may not go any further than the airport.
THE COVID-19 IMPACT
The pandemic has entirely changed the dynamics of pretty much everything around the globe and education has not been able to save itself as well. There are heavy changes in immigration rules and inter-country travel, stay and study around the globe. It might have created opportunities for some but has been more or less damaging as a whole. These things have changed due to the pandemic:
The application process and application deadlines. This majorly served as an advantage to many because the dates were extended mostly and this pattern is still valid to this day.
The course structure has changed massively. Universities have cut down on physical classes and are still following the online class modules.
Scholarships have been cut down significantly as a consequence of economic crackdown in most countries.
2021 admissions have had significant changes. Many universities in different countries like Italy have not made English proficiency and other scores mandatory which has given students the leverage to join the university easily.
Post-it’s exit from Brexit in the pandemic the UKhas extended the PSW VISA (Post Study Work VISA) from a period of 4-6 months to two years.
The universities in Canadawhere students didn’t require any study permit for staying less than 6 months is now made mandatory owing to the COVID restrictions.
Immigration ban, VISA permit restrictions and restricted travel is almost prevalent in most countries and is likely to be so till the latter half of 2021.
Two very different scenarios have been discussed and as a student its necessary we derive important takeaways. Due to the pandemic, we should wisely decide whether to join a university or not. It not of any urgency it is better to wait until late 2021 or early 2022. University ranking, education pattern, placement record and favourable study conditions should be top priorities while making a choice. All exams related information should be thoroughly studied from the college website because of the weightage of exams, different exam scores vary with college.
An important calculation should be made estimating the cost of study, total expenses and others versus the expected salary to get an idea about the return on investment which is very important. A good way to predict the college reputation is looking at the alumni network of the college which talks a lot about the achievement of the college as a whole. Rely on multiple sources for your research, single-source information might be misleading many times.
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