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How to choose a college to study overseas?

Posted on August 16, 2019
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Congratulations! You have decided to study abroad. Now you will get a chance to live in a different country and explore a new way of life. The next logical step is to choose your college/university. This must be a well-thought decision because you do not want to spend significant years of your life pursuing a course from a college or university that you in retrospect may think was a waste of time, money and effort.

study overseas

[More students are taking advantage of study abroad opportunities]

We understand how important this decision is because we have counseled many students and helped them pursue their dream to study abroad. Based on our experience, here is an insight into how to choose your college to study.

The first step is to narrow down your choice by researching the universities and the courses. The experience can leave you dizzy because there is a whale of options available out there.  So, filter your choices to narrow down your list. Here are some suggestions.

Identify your basic requirements:

Focus your search by specifying what you actually need, perhaps you want to do the course in a country that is not very far from home, or you may be looking at a course that is taught in a particular  university or country or you may be particular to do the course at a high-ranking university or are looking at a course within a specific budget. Whatever your requirements, write it down so that you can do your search appropriately.

This will help you when you are doing a course that is offered in several universities.

Know the subject you want to study:

You are lucky if you are clear about what you want to study because popular courses are offered at most universities across the world and you can make a choice based on the course and curriculum. You can further filter your choice by considering the international rankings or the university rankings.

But if you are not sure about what you want to study, consider choosing your subject based on these criteria:

  • Subjects you enjoy learning
  • Skills you want to gain through the course

University fairs can be a great place to get more information about universities or countries that you have zeroed on. This will give you a chance to speak to university representatives and get first-hand information.

Another option is to sign up for webinars organized by universities you are interested in.

Compare your choices:

Once you have narrowed down your list and selected the universities/courses based on the geographical areas or the subject you can see how far they match with the criteria you have decided. This will also help you make a comparison between your choices.

Look for the following information to make an informed comparison between colleges:
  • University ranking
  • Start dates of available programs
  • Content of the course
  • Teaching methodology
  • Career prospects for the course
  • Campus life and activities
  • Accommodation options
  • Admission requirements
  • Course affordability

University ranking: The ranking is important if you want to select the right university. Universities or colleges are ranked based on their quality of teaching, research options, and global outlook.  A high ranked university will give you a valuable learning experience. It also means better job prospects.

Start dates of available programs: Consider the intake dates of the colleges you have selected; do you have enough time to collate all the documents/requirements for the upcoming intake? Have you completed the qualifying course? You must have enough time to complete all the formalities if you are planning to enroll in the earliest intake of your chosen university.

Based on our experience, we advise you to plan at least nine months to one year in advance. Many programs require that you apply at least six months before the course begins and planning nine months in advance gives you enough time to research, select and apply to the programs of your choice.

Content of the course: Check out what the course has to offer and whether it will support the career you have chosen. Find out which subjects are included in your course, the content of the course and its duration. This will help you decide on what course to choose.

Teaching methodology: Check on the teaching methodology of the course, whether it is classroom-based or more field-oriented or practical learning.   You can choose an option that is most suitable to your learning style.

Career prospects for the course: Examine the industries and the skillsets that you will require once you complete the course. Shortlist the countries that offer the maximum prospects for your chosen course and if there is scope for any industrial training. Based on these factors you can choose the course and the country.

Check on the career reciprocity of the course, will you get a suitable job once you finish the course in your home country or other countries? Talk to academic counselors or mentors to find out more.

Campus life and activities: Study abroad programs are filled with coursework and activities that not only enhance your learning but also help you learn about the country and interact with the local students. Evaluate if the course structure gives you enough free time to explore the country.

Accommodation options: Check out the accommodation options of the universities or courses you have selected. Ensure that the accommodation facilities are in tune with your requirements. Some courses require that you find your own apartment.

 Admission requirements: Examine the entry requirements for the shortlisted courses. Does the university offer a program at the level you desire – a degree or diploma?  Consider the academic scores required for the course. Check whether you need to take additional exams such as GMAT, SAT or GRE for the course or need to qualify with English proficiency tests.

Course affordability: Consider the cost of your selected courses, know how much you can afford to spend to help you select the right course. Apart from the course fees consider additional expenses such as accommodation, books, meals, travel and phone expenses. Decide on how you will fund your expenses. Look out for any scholarship options before you make your decision.

When making a comparison of your shortlisted courses you can create a table like the one given below. This will give you all the information at a glance and take a decision.

Name of course- Masters in Computer Science

Name of University/College
Comparison factor

University of XYZ

University ranking
7 among the top ten
Start dates of programs
Spring and fall intake
Content of the course
Teaching methodology
Career prospects
In top companies
Campus life and activities
Accommodation options

Admission requirements

As per government rules

Course affordability


Cost of the course:

Cost is a huge factor when you are making your choice of university. As mentioned earlier, check out the actual course fees, scholarship options, and funding options. This is important to plan your finances, whether you need to apply for a loan or look for other options.

[Quick Look at Annual Course Fees in Different Countries]

 Visa requirements:

When you choose to study abroad, you will have to apply for a student visa. Get the information for visa requirements and deadlines. You can get this information on the official website of the university and confirm it with the local embassy or consulate.

How easy or difficult it is to get a visa, or the process can be an influential factor in choosing a country to study.

Choosing a college to study abroad depends on various factors. If the decision seems complicated, talk to an immigration consultant who will guide you through the whole process and provide a package of services that will make your study abroad journey easy.

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