Studying abroad is a dream that often excites as well as confuses students. While the general excitement of an American Dream enthrals the outward bound, often the students are left questioning which country to go to. True, all countries offer a different set of possibilities and each comes with a great bag of promised goodies which include a better lifestyle, greater career prospects and for few even immigration option and permanent residence. So, as we look at the world and the many countries that lay out the attractive packages…how to choose the best study abroad destination? Read on to understand the 5 questions you must seek answers for in order to choose the right country.
Question 1: Which course are you planning to pursue?
The first thing every student must consider, irrespective of what kind of return on investment you expect, is the course one is planning to pursue. While most of the top colleges across different countries offer brilliant opportunities, the fact remains that there is always one particular course that would have more advantage in a country than the next.
Taking for instance the top courses students apply for in universities abroad. A research showed that more students opt for MS courses than MBA courses at post-graduate level. Now, while many top ranked universities belong to USA (which continues to be the first among equals for study abroad destinations), we cannot ignore countries like Germany and even Australia that offer good quality education at a fraction of a cost (for Germany!). Also, if you are interested in taking up a language course in French, for obvious reasons France and Canada would offer better opportunities and credence as compared to any other study abroad destination.
Hence, we suggest that the first step a student ought to take is to understand which course to take. Once that is done, go to Question 2.
Question 2: What is the industry base of the course of choice in the city/ country you are planning to go?
Often I have come across students who are more interested in looking at the rank of the college rather than the kind of opportunities the location offers. What is important to understand is that the reason why you are planning to go abroad is to take a jump in your lifestyle which comes attach with a dream job. Now, if that is the reason, how would taking up a course, say like aeronautical engineering in some obscure land help if there is no industry nearby?
Every curriculum requires industrial training. Be it at an under graduation level or a postgraduate level or indeed at the research level, the fact remains that there are top companies of which attracts the best. And though the top companies hire from the very best, they also tend to reach out to the local colleges for their interns and special trainings.
Hence we highly recommend that once you have chosen the course you are planning to undertake, look at the cities that the universities/ institutes are close to and what kind of industries mark that region. Ideally, it should be closer to the big names in the industry of your choice. Not only would this ensure a better set of job opportunities after completing the course, but also help you assimilate to the culture of the region, hence assisting a better performance at the job.
Question 3: What is the Return on Investment?
Often a mistake common among students is the calculation of cost – cost of tuition, cost of living, while what they really ought to be worried about is the return on investment.
A return on investment, simply put is the expected earnings after the course divided by the cost of acquiring the necessary education. Explaining it further, while the cost of pursuing an MBA is considerably higher, the returns of the degree are higher still. But the student must consider calculating the same for specific countries.
A good way to do this is by researching the job and salary statistics of the country as per the industry. Often, the relevant statistical data is easily available for the discerning. So before you finalize a country, also understand what kind of pay-outs you can expect from the job which you are hoping to get after completing your education. Unless and until your aspirations are purely academic, you would be wiser to calculate the expected salary. In case the pursuits are academic, even then a return on investment can be calculated by understanding the kind of research facilities available in the country you are planning to go to and the tie ups that university enjoys with the research centres in the region.
Question 4: What are the opportunities available for your spouse/ family members?
Perhaps more relevant for students applying for post graduate courses as against the undergraduate courses, the other thing a student should also research is the options for spouses in the country. While some countries are mindful that you would want to bring your spouse or child along, they do not necessarily have many opportunities for them. As such, it becomes a critical determinant and must be considered. Especially for students who are in the middle of their careers and have a working spouse, understanding this is important for while you increase your income, you might want to add your spouse’s income rather than forego it.
Question 5: What is the value of that degree back in India?
The final thing and arguably also the first thing a student must evaluate is the value of the country’s degree in India.
Needless to say, we cannot forego the worst situation and the possibility of your returning back to India if nothing goes as per plan. If a student does not check the credibility of the degree s/he is intending to pursue in India, you might end up with a huge student loan, no relevant work experience and a degree that does nothing to your future prospects. This is especially important for students planning to take up accounting courses, medicine and even law. These practices are rather country specific and it is necessary to pick a country that offers to acceptable degrees so that you always have a fall back option. Even for more acceptable degrees like MBA, we still recommend you check the value of that MBA.
There are obviously other things like cost of living, security and ease of getting admission that one must consider but we give the above more precedence for the obvious reasons that all the top destinations equate fairly close to each other when it comes to higher education. One country might offer a cheaper cost of living but a must stricter entry requirements while another country might offer you easier admissions but have rather high cost of living. Irrespective, we believe that these are the things one cannot truly avoid but when deciding which is the best country to study abroad…think of the first 5 questions and chances are…no matter what your choice, the country would offer you the best value for your time and money. Start your research with the country pages at Shiksha Study Abroad to understanding about the countries and then make an informed choice.
Choose wisely…All the best!