Not only are students looking at full-time undergraduate degrees, but they are also exploring other options including summer school, vocational programs, semester abroad etc to build on their knowledge and skills.
As you plan the next stage of your academic life, you may be considering studying abroad. Traditionally, Indian students used to complete their undergraduate degree domestically and then pursue postgraduate options abroad. However, year on year, we have witnessed a steady rise in the number of candidates who pursue their studies abroad. Not only are students looking at full-time undergraduate degrees, but they are also exploring other options including summer school, vocational programs, semester abroad etc to build on their knowledge and skills. Here are a few essential facts to help you decide what’s best for you:
1. Why Study Abroad?
Indian youth are more open than ever to explore the wide gamut of experiences that study abroad offers. The factors that appeal most to students include:
• Par excellence educational environment with world class infrastructure, eminent faculty and unlimited resources.
• A holistic learning experience that taps on academic as well as extracurricular potential of students and focuses on shaping future global citizens.
• An interface that facilitates personal and professional bonding across cross-cultural community and a diverse group of peers and professors.
2. What are the best study abroad locations for undergraduate programs?
You have a wide spectrum of geographies to choose from when exploring study abroad options including favored destinations like the USA and upcoming locations including New Zealand and Germany. Let’s look at some of the most popular places students fly to:
• USA: USA offers a conducive learning atmosphere. It’s home to the 8 Ivy League universities and other top- notch institutions that provide students with a treasure trove of experiences. A dynamic ambience, vibrant campus life and competitive educational culture makes USA a top study abroad destination.
• UK: It is one of the oldest and most prestigious educational centres in the world. You’ll receive superlative academic grounding, learn from eminent scholars and academicians and be part of a rich heritage.
• Singapore: Not too far from home, yet providing all international educational opportunities, Singapore is now gaining popularity with Indian students aspiring to study abroad.
• Canada: Easy availability of visas coupled with exclusive benefits provided to international students and world class universities makes Canada a popular study abroad choice.
• Australia: Australia boasts of renowned universities, peaceful environment and learner-centric educational system and is one of the most sought-after countries for higher education.
3. What are the best study abroad options for undergraduate programs?
Here are a few academic and vocational course options across continents and colleges:
• At universities in the USA there are a host of different course combinations that you can opt for. Students have the liberty to mix and match completely different streams like combining physics with philosophy or English and biochemistry. You can go for a double major (specialize in two subject areas) or major in one and minor in another field of study. You can shift to a completely different stream provided you meet the department requirements or graduate as a Bachelor’s of Arts & Science (B.A.S). Universities offer a wide range of courses which you can incorporate into your degree. For instance, Harvard offers 3,900 courses in 49 undergraduate programs, and Yale university offers around 2,000 courses per year. It’s indeed a great opportunity to be able to design a unique and personalised degree.
• Universities in the UK and Canada also offer some flexibility in terms of course selection and shaping your own program. Some of the undergraduate programs include the PPE (Philosophy, Political Science, Economics) at Oxford University (UK), Chemistry & Business Management at University of Birmingham (UK), Life Sciences & Medicine at McGill University (Canada), Arts & Humanities at Toronto University.
Vocational courses: With jobs requiring greater skills and practical knowledge of associated technicalities, it will be a great move to learn skills relevant to your field of study. If you want to join the medical field, you can opt for a vocational program in the like of pharmacy technician or EKG; you aspire to be an architect, you can join an apprenticeship course in design technology. The more skills you earn, the better is your ability to smoothly fare through your course and successfully carve out your career. There are some great study abroad options for vocational training to harness your skills and make you future ready. Let’s take a look at some of the programs available abroad:
• The Vocational and Training Sector (VET) in Australia – You have a host of Registered Training Organizations (RTO), institutes, private colleges as well as selective universities that offer VET courses. Through these courses candidates learn specific job skills, know current and established industry trends and acquire valid and recognised qualifications. Some institutes offering VET courses are: Canberra Institute of Technology, TAFE International Western Australia etc.
• LA Vocational Institute, Los Angeles (USA) – This institute will furnish you with focused skills in various medical fields ranging from Medical Assistant to Phlebotomy technician. These courses span anywhere between 4 weeks to 30 weeks depending on the subject domain. You’ll have extensive practical training and get the most of an international and professionally designed curriculum that will boost your concepts and your confidence.
4. What are the pre-requisites for studying abroad?
Foreign institutions emphasize greatly on your overall performance in both academic and non-academic fields. Make sure to craft a well-rounded profile to highlight your versatility and unique talent. If you are aspiring for top colleges in the USA they look at your achievements from class 9 onwards and need sandardized tests like SAT/ACT. Generally, English proficiency tests like IELTS/TOEFL along with your transcripts, resume/CV, essays/statements of purpose are the basic requirements for colleges abroad. For non-academic courses, you must have proof of a certain level of English proficiency and any prior work experience/internship. As you start with your application, go through details pertaining to other crucial aspects like financial resources, scholarship options etc. Check college websites and correspond with various institutions to be aware of the latest updates and announcements.
5. What is the best option for me?
Ask yourself why you want to go abroad for higher studies. Analyse what triggers your aspiration. Are you eying a specific course to learn unique skills, do you want to attend your dream college or experience an international study ambience? If you want to pursue a course, find out if your interests and capabilities are attuned to it and what career prospects it might offer ahead in future. Likewise, if you are targeting a college, check out what courses it offers, how well it coordinates career opportunities and finally whether it caters to your needs and talent.
Before you take a call on studying abroad, you must analyse your strengths and weakness, your interests and needs and your career goal. Once you understand your priorities, you can decide your direction towards studying abroad. Relax, introspect, do your homework and set forth on an enriching journey. All the best!
Stories by Grishma Nanavaty