We often have our own reasons to consider higher education abroad. It could be to broaden our horizons, to research at a world class facility, or a desire to follow in the footsteps of a role model or family member. However, choosing the right kind of program befitting our needs and interests is pivotal to our decision. The challenge lies in understanding the best fit from an overwhelming number of options. Here’s 7 signs of a successful study abroad program to help you with your choice:
1) Admission requirements: Do I have the profile to apply to my chosen program? What are the cut offs? Eminent institutions that offer cutting edge programs prescribe defined admission requirements. Stellar grades, high standardized/admission test scores, all round performance, outstanding talent etc. are criteria on which candidates are evaluated. Stringent and well-established admission policy is often an indicator of the reputation of an institution.
2) Acceptance rate & yield: Usually we assess the demand of an institution by a) how easy or difficult it is to secure a place there, b) what is the percentage of yield. Most world-class schools have a stringent take on the eligibility of the prospective candidates. Stanford’s 6%, Harvard’s 11% acceptance rates are proof of their meticulous screening procedure and high benchmarks. The yield in college admissions is the percent of students who choose to enrol in a particular university after having been offered admission. Programs with high yield can indicate the college's popularity and desirability from a student’s prespective.
3) Placement statistics: The primary goal that we have in vying for a reputed institution is the career opportunities and good job prospects that come with the brand. Placement statistics is, therefore, a viable indicator to understand the success rate of the program. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School has a record 98.3% of its 2016 class securing lucrative job offers within three months from graduation. The placement story is not different in the prestigious Yale School of Management with 93.3% of its 2016 batch receiving offers from employers across the world.
4) Alumni involvement: A strong community of successful alumni highlights the efficacy and productivity of an institution’s education system. The Ivy League colleges, acclaimed business schools and law schools, prestigious medical colleges across the globe boast of mentoring students who became pioneers in science and technology, head of organisations and States, ground-breaking entrepreneurs and the like. Their involvement in the growth of their alma mater acknowledges the school’s contribution in their success story.
5) Faculty: Imagine being taught by Nobel Laureates, world famous writers and distinguished scholars! When highly qualified professionals and subject experts form the faculty body of a university, they are an asset to the institution and incredibly add to the quality of education. Top colleges often constitute of such renowned faulty members. Learning from such stalwarts is an enriching journey. They’ll not only provide you with profound insights but inspire you to go beyond textbook knowledge. Students idolize great teachers and strive to follow in their footsteps.
6) Infrastructure: Whether the latest equipment to conduct path breaking research in stem cell therapy, or a well-appointed and sprawling technology lab to explore machine learning, we look for exclusive infrastructural facilities that will lend us scopes to advance our learning. Universities are also ranked on how much infrastructural support they can provide to realise students’ aspirations. Review this aspect of your chosen university and departmental facilities to gauge the breadth and depth of the program.
7) Outstanding learning environment: Academic rigour, dynamic lectures, vibrant campus culture, competitive peers, multitude of scholastic and non-scholastic opportunities make for a holistic educational journey. Here are some significant aspects to consider when choosing your program:
o Student-centric curriculum: The curriculum including teaching style, syllabus, class activities etc. must be designed to optimise students’ learning and to enable successful application of the same. Check out for these vital ingredients:
• Conceptual learning: a perfect blend of theory with hands on trials
• Self-learning and research
• Peer project and collaborative assignments
• Field trips and excursions
• Continuous and holistic evaluation process
Exchange programs: Consider this scenario, you are doing your Major in Archaeology in an eminent college in the US. Your department organises exchange programs in partnership with universities across the world. From the pre-historic remnants of the Stonehenge in the UK to the enigmatic Sphynx in Egypt, you’ll have a world to envisage beyond textbooks and class lectures. Acclaimed institutions offer exchange programs to:
• Optimise specialisation studies by providing conducive learning opportunities
• Widen periphery of subject knowledge
• Introduce variation by offering diverse learning environments
• Promote cultural exchange
Internships: Internships are crucial to understand how to transfer your skills and knowledge to real world situations. It consolidates your learning, provides insight about work strategies, makes you aware of the real problems and solutions, and allows you to interact with industry experts. Does your program allow for such an opportunity? Top-tier institutions offer a plethora of internship programs in collaboration with renowned firms and organisations all-round the year as well as during the summer breaks.
When selecting a study abroad program, it is essential that you thoroughly review the program on these criteria. Overseas education is extremely rewarding when you get to pursue your dream subject and are part of a competitive program promising great opportunities. Do your homework, prepare well and give your best shot. Good luck!