Choosing to study abroad is a decision that can change your life in a positive manner. In the process, it is important to choose the right country, the right college and the right course. Study abroad counsellors are there exactly to help you with all of this and more.
Your communication with the counsellor should be fruitful and satisfying. At the end of the conversation, you should have your doubts cleared and a precise course of action should be ready. So what exactly should you ask your counsellor?
Here is a list of 15 questions you must ask your study abroad counsellor:
Why should I go for abroad studies?
Your study abroad advisor should be able to explain to you the various benefits of studying abroad. Studying abroad can be a great help in launching your career and offer you a seismic shift in your career achievements. Your counsellor’s guidance should clear all the smoke and worries in you if there’s any.
What is the right time to apply for international universities?
Timing of the application is the key to increase your chances of getting an admit. You need enough time to arrange for your finances, take tests such as IELTS/TOEFL/GRE/GMAT, process your passport and visa, arrange for your stay, etc. Your university might even demand a minimum work experience which you can complete in the meanwhile. Therefore, you need to research much in advance as to when you should apply to universities and most importantly when you should start with all the aforementioned formalities. For this, you need to get in touch with a study abroad counsellor much in advance to accelerate the planning process.
Many universities have summer and fall intakes, but some courses might have the session beginning only at a particular time of the year. Based on your desired course, the counsellor must be able to provide you with a clear idea of when to apply.
Do I meet the eligibility criteria?
All courses in different universities have minimum eligibility criteria. For example, if you are applying for an MS program, a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, technology or related field is a prerequisite. But does the target university have a minimum GPA (or CGPA) requirement? Do you need to take the GRE?
Based on your current profile, your study abroad counsellor should inform you whether you meet the eligibility criteria, and what can be done to fulfil it.
What are the essential documents mandatory for study abroad?
The number of documents required for study abroad can be overwhelming. This includes recommendation letters, transcripts, academic records, visa application forms, financial documents, etc. Your counsellor should provide you with an exact list of all documents that would be required.
How to choose the right destination for abroad education?
Well, this is actually the most important question and the choice you make will define your destiny. Go with an open mind and let the counsellor choose your study destination according to your profile. There are three things that really matter in choosing the right study destination.
The first is your safety. Friendliness to international students, equality, healthcare, basic facilities – all these factors are very important. The second thing is the quality of your education, which includes the university’s reputation, research facilities, alumni record, student: teacher ratio, the amount of money you need to spend on education, etc. The third is life after college. This includes placements, the local industry, post-study stay and value of your degree internationally.
Your counsellor should be able to answer your question on the basis of all these parameters.
Is not knowing the local language a problem?
Other than the English-speaking countries (USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), all countries have a different local language. However, most universities offer courses in English.
In either case, you might need to present proof of your expertise in the language in which the course is being imparted. If you are required to take such a test, you should prepare the language enough to survive there. But what if you are studying a course in Germany in which the language of instruction is English?
Do you still need to know German? What level of the local language should you know before leaving? All these questions should be answered by your counsellor to avoid any hassles.
Is the country chosen by me safe for overseas students?
Most reputed global universities welcome diversity especially countries like the US, the UK, and Canada. Your study counsellor should be able to help you in solving your safety-related doubts. He/she should be able to show the true picture of the scenario in the country and substantiate it with real-life experiences and facts.
What will be the overall cost of studies?
There are many costs besides the tuition fee – such as accommodation costs (on and off-campus), living costs (Food, Transportation costs, Utility Bills (Water, Gas, Electricity, Internet, etc.), insurance costs, the minimum amount to be maintained in the bank, mandatory insurance costs (if any) and other miscellaneous costs. Ask your study abroad counsellor to provide you with a detailed breakup of your overall cost of studies.
Can I get any scholarships?
Scholarships and tuition waivers are a great way to save money. These are organized by universities, governments and independent bodies; and have been designed to lure quality students for study abroad programs.
You might be eligible for University scholarships, government and private scholarships, fellowships as well as grants. Ask your study abroad counsellor if you are eligible for any of these scholarships in any way.
Which education loans are best for me?
Depending on if you have a collateral or not, you might be eligible for secured as well as unsecured loans. While unsecured loans sound great, their rates of interest are higher. Also, there are different banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and international players who can lend you loans.
Each lender has their own set of terms and conditions. Some lenders can help you save on your taxes, while others might allow you a long time to repay your loan. Your study abroad counsellor should be able to provide you with various education loan options, and an order of priority as well.
Can I get the contact of any past student already counselled by you?
You must have seen customer testimonials on the websites of study abroad counsellors. Even when you visit their office, their pinboards and standees are surrounded by pictures of students who fulfilled their dreams thanks to the counsellor. But will the counsellor provide you with the contact details of some of their past customers?
Why is the Statement of Purpose (SOP) important?
Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) might be the single most important document of your application. In fact, many reputed business schools around the world claim that SOPs can make or break an applicant’s chances of getting admission. So how do you write your SOP? What are the most important parameters on the basis of which your SOP is judged? Let your counsellor come up with a holistic answer on this. There are many free SOP review tools available online, among which GyanDhan SOP Review Tool is the most useful one for study abroad aspirants as it analyzes matter, grammar, readability and more. This tool provides deep insights on how the SOP can be improved for a better impression.
For how long can I stay after my studies?
Depending on your desired course, some countries might allow you a period of up to two years to find a job after the completion of your course, for instance- the United Kingdom. The immigration laws of all countries are different, and it also depends on the course. This is quite important, as you would want enough time post-course completion to feel secure before choosing your study destination. Let your counsellor clarify this.
What accommodation options will be available to me?
Many campuses have on-campus accommodation, but you might not always get a seat. What are the off-campus options then – shared rooms, dormitories or guesthouses? What is the cost of each? How many people do you need to share your accommodation with? What are the in-house amenities? How far is it from your university? What about local facilities?
Ask your study abroad counsellor to provide details of all accommodation options available for you.
What are the other challenges I might face?
How would you deal in case of financial issues? Is there a local network for international students or people of your community? Are there some local contacts of the counsellor who you can fall back on, in case of any emergency?
The answers to all these questions will certainly help you make the best choice!