7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Study Abroad Program
Studying abroad is one of the most important decisions you can make as a student. Choosing to leave your home country for studies in another part of the world can be a game changer. But for this decision to have a positive impact on your life, it is essential for you to consider a number of factors carefully.
So what are some of the key factors you need to consider when you are looking for a study abroad program? Keep reading to find out.1. Language
One of the most important factors to consider before you choose a study abroad program is the language spoken in the host country. Without a good understanding of the language that is used as a medium of instruction in your host university, you will have a tough time doing well in your classes. For this reason, you need to carefully research the language that is used for teaching and the language that is used predominantly outside of the classroom.
For instance, if you want to study in a Chinese university where the language of instruction is Mandarin, you need to be sure that you are proficient in that language. If you are not fluent in Mandarin, ask yourself how you are going to master the language and take classes in it. Are there language courses that you can take and that you are prepared to pay for? How long do these courses run for and how well do they prepare students for success in the classroom? If you cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, then you should rethink your decision to study in a country whose language you do not speak or understand well.2. Visa Regulations
Before you settle in a given country for your study abroad, you need to understand its visa regulations regarding international students. Some countries, for example the United States, have strict visa policies for certain countries. As such, if you want to apply there, you need to carefully review these policies and confirm that you won’t have a problem getting a student visa if you are admitted to a college there.3. Political Conditions
Political stability is a crucial factor to consider when researching suitable study abroad destinations. While you cannot predict what will happen in the future, it is advisable to avoid countries that have a history of political instability. Choosing to pursue your studies in a country that has a history of political volatility may cause unnecessary delays and disruptions to your studies. As such, as you narrow down your options, keep in mind the political atmosphere of a given country.4. Cost of Attendance
The cost of attendance entails all the expenses you will spend as a student. This means not only the tuition fees but also the cost of accommodation, food, student visa, flight, and the related expenses. Some countries, for example the United States and the United Kingdom, have very expensive costs of attendance. Attending a private university in the United States can easily cost more than 70,000 U.S. dollars per year. Realistically, only a small number of African students can afford that amount of money. If you are not among that tiny minority of students who can afford these astronomical costs of attendance, you have to think carefully about the alternative ways in which you can fund your education. Are you going to pursue scholarships? Are you planning to take a loan from a private lender such as 8B Education? If you don’t have a clear notion of how you are going to fund your education in a given study abroad destination, you need to think twice.5. Degree Programs Offered
If your desired study abroad destination does not offer the degree program you are interested in, then you need to think twice about it. For example, if you are planning to study medicine as an undergraduate in the United States, you need to find alternative options because this is not possible. In America, you can only pursue a medical degree after you have completed a bachelor’s degree program that incorporates a medical track. On the other hand, if you intend to pursue the same degree in the United Kingdom, that is entirely possible because it is common for British universities to offer a medical degree to students right after their high school studies.6. Culture
While students tend to under-estimate the importance of culture while doing their college research, this is an extremely important factor to consider before you settle on a given destination for your international studies. Failure to thoroughly research the culture of your host country may lead to serious frustration once you get there. For instance, it is important to understand that Western countries such as the United States and Canada have a liberal culture, which means people are more open about their beliefs and ideas. On the other hand, in a country like Cuba and Saudi Arabia, you can expect a more conservative culture, with people being less outspoken about their beliefs and values. As such, you need to make sure that the culture of a given country will tolerate your own beliefs and values. You do not want to end up offending other people’s cultures, nor do you want to be offended by other cultures that do not understand your background.7. Location
Before you decide to apply to a specific university, it is important to understand exactly where it is located. Some universities, for example Columbia University and New York University, are situated right in the middle of major world cities. On the other hand, there are other universities – for example Williams College – that are located in remote areas that are not easily accessible. Keeping this in mind will help you select a school that is most suitable for you.Next Steps
Conducting proper research before you settle on a study abroad destination is exceedingly important. If you do your research well, you will be more likely to find a program that meets your personal and educational needs. On the other hand, failure to do your research well can result in frustration and wastage of precious time.
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