For students that wish to either start, or to continue their education overseas, it may seem overwhelming and very complicated. For most students, if they are successful, this is both an opportunity to conduct their studies, and maybe as important, to experience a new culture at the same time. For this reason, it is very important you carefully consider the following points:
- What do you want your major to be in?
- How to get financial aid or scholarships for overseas education?
- What are the entry requirements for the school you have identified?
- And maybe, one of the most important, are you mentally and emotionally prepared to immerse yourself into a new culture, far away from your family and friends?
I will touch upon each one of these points, as they relate to students that may choose a higher education in the United States of America. Finally, I will provide some links and reference material that will address this topic in more detail.
1. What do you want your major to be in?
This is a very critical question as many students find themselves both confused and frustrated that half-way through college, or in some cases, after they have completed college, the major they were working towards will not, or did not, help them in the career they wanted to be in. Of course, for most people at this age group, there are many things they may not know for certain, including what they want to do for the next 20 or 30 years of their life. As much as possible, choosing an education that will help you succeed in a career that brings both an income allowing you to achieve your goals (family, travel etc) and more importantly to me, job satisfaction, is really what matters the most.
This is also very important to understand, because most schools have an emphasis in specific areas i.e. Engineering, Medicine, Business etc. So knowing what you enjoy, knowing what kind of career will provide you with an income to meet your life goals, allows you to make the most use of the college years in the most productive way. At a minimum, if you are a freshman or sophomore, make sure you at least take your general education classes, that will count towards any area you want to major in. Its always a bummer to be only a few credits short of your goal, because you did not take the necessary general education classes.
2. How will you fund your college education overseas?
Money is without doubt the single biggest factor, and often, can seem a roadblock towards obtaining a quality education. Fortunately, with a lot of determination and research, most people can find resources such as scholarships, financial grants, or student loans. Since I live in the USA, I will focus my discussion on programs that exist here in my country. Recently I saw an article on Yahoo, which talked a lot about different programs for international students. Even though obtaining financial aid through grants or scholarships may be harder for international students, than American students, it is still possible.
“American colleges and universities are among the best in the world, and for many students from around the globe, attending college in the U.S. would be a dream come true. Before you write it off as impossible, check out scholarship opportunities for funding your American college dream.” This quote is from the link I provide below.
This next link provides information on which US Colleges/Universities offer the most financial aid/scholarships for international students
3. What are the entry requirements for attending the college or university you have chosen?
This is another area that can seem very complicated for the international student that wishes to attend college in the USA. Be aware though, most schools will have an International/Foreign Student Office, with a friendly person wanting to help you. This is their job, and international students are an very important part of the student population. In most cases, you can locate a school website online, and it will include some of the details and entry requirements. For example, at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, a very prestigious school located in Malibu, California, it is very easy to find contact information and entry requirements using the following website link:
This link will provide not only with information about student financial aid, but also TOEFL/IELTS, Transcript and International Data Form and Financial Statement requirements. The requirements listed above are pretty standardized for the majority of colleges/universities, however some may not be so strict i.e. TOEFL, so its important to check the entry criteria for the schools you are interested in.
Of course, as I said, there are exceptions to the rule about Entry requirements, and this link talks a little more about some of the schools that do not require TOEFL or IELTS.
Some of these universities that can help you get admission without you requiring a IELTS or TOEFL score are below. An example includes:
California State University: The California State University is a public university system in California. For admission in this university, international students need not produce a TOEFL/IELTS score if they have attended secondary school or/and graduate school with English as their medium of instruction. There are also a few countries for whose students they have waived the minimum English requirement.
4. Are you ready to study overseas?
As I close out this article, I wanted to briefly touch on one of the most important things to consider when you make the life changing decision to study overseas. For most people, this will be the first time they have spent an extended period of time in a difficult culture, and in many cases, around people that speak a different language than your native language. This can be challenging physically, mentally and emotionally. Maybe the food is different? Maybe the environment and climate is different? And as I said, maybe you feel lost in this sea of people that in most cases, will not speak your language as their first language. Take heart. Treat this as an experience and a time to expand your knowledge, learn new things and most importantly, embrace it for the opportunities it will provide you.
In most if not all cases, there will be clubs at your school, for international students, where you can share these challenges with other students that are in the same situation. Also, you may find yourself around many others from the same country, so there will be a feeling of comfort by this association, but please, use this opportunity to learn new things, make new friends. While we may feel comfortable staying within our own culture, we will never truly grow unless we step outside of it. Enjoy yourself, this is the time of your life.