Just the thought of applying to universities abroad, stresses most students out. That is because applying abroad is seen as a complicated and long process. But you need to know a simple fact if you are considering studying at a foreign university: most universities abroad want more international students on their campuses. They want diversity in their classrooms because the learning process is not limited only to academics, you learn a lot from interacting with students from different backgrounds as well.
That is why you already have an advantage – your cultural background will set you apart. With the universities offering you this benefit, you need to make the most of the opportunity by making sure you avoid these few common mistakes that you may be guilty of –
1. Not researching enough – Research is the most daunting stage for most international students. The biggest signs of not enough research are if you know about only a few universities, you have not researched course options, financial aid, scholarships, have not considered on-campus facilities, location, weather, or cost of living.
The best thing is that all this information is readily available online. Thoroughly browse the websites of all your shortlisted universities so you are aware of every information.
2. Not asking the right people the right questions – Almost all foreign universities have at least one admissions counselor whose sole job is to advise international students. However, most students are not even aware of this fact. That is why it is advisable to write to the university in case you have any question or confusion, rather than googling it. On many university websites, there are links available to contact the international admissions counselor. If there are no such counselor at any university of your choice, then you can send an email to the international student group. There are high chances you will find someone who will provide correct information to all your questions.
3. Not planning enough and ahead of time – Unlike Indian college admissions, the admission process abroad is not streamlined. Every university and college have a different schedule and process. There are many universities which accept applications throughout the year, then there are some which have only three application deadlines. You need to be mentally prepared to accommodate all the different processes for the upcoming one year.
Admissions counselors can only help you with university related information, but can’t help with visa related concerns. So you need to prepare for the visa process separately. Among all these things going on, you need to maintain your calm and not lose patience.
4. Not thinking about the post-arrival stage – your planning doesn’t end at getting admission at a university or getting a visa. You need to have a plan about your student life as well. You need to consider what your options are once your classes start, and what you wish to do after you graduate. To get the answers to these questions, you need to research options for internships, faculty, mentors, clubs etc.
If you are going for MS, look at research opportunities. Research about professors, contact career cell for information on internships.
5. Not bragging enough about yourself – The most important document for any university application is the Statement of Purpose or the College Essays. These include nothing but a list of your accomplishments and goals. These documents help the admission officers decide if you are a good fit for the university or not. They need to see what you bring to the table, and how you can contribute to the college community.
Don’t be modest about yourself in these papers. If you have done well on certain exams, mention it. If you have played sports, mention it. If you have been involved in theater or music, mention it. Sharing your accomplishments will enhance your application immensely and may also make you eligible for scholarships opportunities. However, don’t exaggerate your achievements or lie about them. Be truthful and don’t underplay your accomplishments.
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Also read: Common Mistakes to Avoid in SOP