Studying Abroad: A 20-Step Guide for African Students
Step 1. Deciding What and Where to Study
The first step for every student is figuring out where to study and what to study. Taking the time to conduct proper college research is extremely important if you want to succeed in your quest to study abroad.
If you fail to do your research well, you may end up applying to schools where you are not a good match. So how do you conduct proper college research?
8B Education has developed a robust college research platform with more than 3,000 colleges and universities across all the world. You can access the platform by clicking on the link below:
Conducting college research should be carried out in tandem with determining the study fields of interest. This is because some universities are exceptional in some disciplines but not so good in others. To learn more about how to conduct proper university research and how to decide your field of study, please check out our resource library.
Step 2: Taking the Necessary Exams
Once you have conducted your research thoroughly and determined what degree you want to pursue, the next step is to review and prepare for any tests that you need to take in order to file an application. For example, most American universities expect international students to take tests such as SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, TOEFL, and others.
It is your responsibility to check the admissions website of each university you have decided to apply to so that you can clearly understand which exams to take. To learn more about tests required for study abroad and how to prepare for them, please review the articles and resources on the 8B website.
Step 3: Preparing and Submitting Applications
The next step after determining what tests to take is to prepare and submit your applications. This step is extremely important because it determines whether you will receive an offer or not. Preparing an application involves writing required essays, filling out the application forms, requesting recommendation letters, sending your test scores, and paying for your application where required. To find out more details about this step, please check out the resources we have available on our website.
Step 4: Seeking and Applying for Scholarships
As you submit your college applications, you also need to simultaneously look for scholarships and grants if you need them. There are many kinds of scholarships available–in the United States, for example, many universities offer financial aid to students. When submitting your application, you will need to indicate that you will need financial assistance and provide any documentation required such as bank statements.
There are also scholarships offered by other bodies such as the Mastercard Foundation and the Chevening Scholarship. 8B Education has created a database specifically meant for African students that you can use to search for scholarships. You can access the 8B Scholarship Platform by clicking on the linking below:
To learn more about scholarships and how to navigate them best, please visit our resources page.
Step 5: Evaluating Admission Offers
After submitting your applications, the next step is to wait until your chosen universities get back to you. Universities can either accept your application, reject your application, or put you on a waitlist. Once you have your admission and scholarship offers, you have to assess and review them carefully to decide what is best for yourself.
Step 6: Applying for Student Loans (If Necessary)
If you have received an offer from your dream university but do not have the means to attend, you should consider taking a loan to invest in your education. 8B Education has built a robust student loan marketplace that can help you to compare all the loans available for African students. To access the 8B student loan marketplace, please click on the link below:
Step 7: Applying for a Student Visa
Once you have an admission offer and the financing required to attend your university, the next step is to apply for a student visa. Depending on the country that your university is located in, the student visa application process procedure will vary. For some countries such as the United States, students have to apply for their visas several months in advance. To learn more about the visa application processes, please review our guides and resources.
Step 8: Getting Started in College
Orientation is one of the most crucial stages of studying abroad. Once you have your visa and flight details, you will need to travel to your university for that stage. Typically, many universities hold an initial orientation for international students and then a more general orientation for all students. To learn more about how to prepare for this early stage of studying abroad, please check out the guides and resources we have shared on the community and our website.
Step 9: Finding Accommodation in College
For many international students, living on campus is the most viable option. However, once you are more familiar with the new environment, you may choose to find a place off-campus. Depending on the living arrangements, some places will be more affordable than others. To learn more about the accommodation options abroad, check out the guides on our website.
Step 10: Tackling Academics in College
Besides getting good grades in college, you will need to find the most suitable major to focus on. In some countries like the United States, students have until second year to declare a major. How do you choose the right major? What steps can you take to ensure your grades are the best they can be? Who do you consult when you are not doing well in your classes? To find out the answers to these kinds of questions, please check out the resources we have posted on our website and also feel most welcome to post your question on this platform.
Step 11: Social Life in College
College is not just about academics. Being a college student means interacting with people from other parts of the world. These are probably people who do not speak your language or share your culture. How do you make friends with these people? What steps can you take to ensure you have a great social life in college? We have curated several useful resources that will help you as an African student to thrive socially while you are abroad. Review them on our website and post any questions you have on the community.
Step 12: Choosing Extracurriculars in College
Extracurricular activities are an important part of college life. As an international student, you will have the opportunity to participate in activities such as leadership, sports, arts, volunteering and more. It is important to build your resume by doing these activities–a student who is well involved in extracurricular activities in college shows employers that he/she is proactive. To learn more about extracurricular activities in college, please check out the resources we have curated on our website.
Step 13: Maintaining Health in College
How do you maintain both your physical and mental health in college? Being a university student is not easy. Sometimes you will have heavy loads of work and other challenges that may make you highly stressed. To cope with the challenges you will face while studying abroad, you need to understand what kinds of resources are available to support you.
Step 14: Exploring Exchange Programs in College
In addition to work-study and internship programs while studying abroad, international students have the opportunity to participate in exchange programs that are conducted by their colleges. In general, exchange programs last one or two semesters in a university based in another country. For instance, if you are studying at Stanford in the United States, you may choose to go for an exchange program (also referred to as study abroad) at the University of Bonn in Germany. To understand more about exchange programs as an African student, please review our guides and share any questions you have with our community.
Step 15: Exploring Work Study in College
Depending on the country you choose for your studies, you may be allowed to work while pursuing your degree program. In the United States, for example, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and up to 40 hours per week during summer holidays. How do you balance your academics and work study? How do you find a work study opportunity? To get the answers to these questions, please review our resources and post any questions you may have about our community.
Step 16: Renewing Visas and Maintaining Status as an International Student
Depending on the country that you are studying in, you may need to renew your student visa. Some countries will offer you a four-year visa, a two-year visa, etc. If your visa expires before your studies end, it is your duty to replace it on time. Failure to renew a student visa on a timely basis may lead to legal problems that could jeopardize your stay in a foreign country. To learn more about the visa renewal process, please check out the resources we have curated for you on our website.
Step 17: Networking in College
As you get closer to graduation from an international university, you will need to find internship and work opportunities – and this is where a good network plays a critical role. Without good networks, you will have a very difficult time landing the roles that you are interested in. So, how do you network in college? Who do you talk to? To learn more about networking while in college, please review the resources we have assembled for you on our website and within the community. As usual, you are most welcome to post any questions you have on the topic.
Step 18: Finding Internships While in College
Internships are extremely important for all university students. If you want to increase your chances of landing a job right after graduation, you have to put in the effort required to get an internship while pursuing your university degree. How do you find the right internship? How do you make sure the internship you get is suited to the career path you have in mind? To learn more about the role of internships in your career, please check out the resources we have curated both on our website and on the community platform.
Step 19: Finding Full Time Work as an International Student
While it can be challenging to secure full time employment in a foreign country, with the right preparation and mentorship, you can land a full time role in your area of interest. To learn how to prepare the best resumes, how to interview for the jobs you want, and how to thrive as a young professional, please check out our guides and connect with our mentors in the 8B community.
Step 20: Getting Work Visas and Permanent Residence
The process of getting a work visa in a foreign country can be long and convoluted. In countries like the United States, the work visa is issued to foreign workers on a lottery system. This means that there are limited slots every year. To understand all the details you need to know about getting work visas for full time employment in a foreign country, please review the resources we have compiled on our website. In addition, you are welcome to raise any questions you have on our mentorship platform.