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How to pick the right international university?

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Diving into the college application process is an exciting moment for any prospective student. This is the moment when you get to start defining the path of your future, and it’s important to ensure that you’re taking the time to choose the best one from the top universities abroad. Fortunately, there is a way to make all the essays, interviews, and tests worth it. All it takes is a little research.

We’re sharing here the experiences and learnings of a graduate from an American university and someone who not only went through the college application process but also aided many family members and friends through the same. Here’re a few things that are key for applicants to keep in mind while choosing a university.

What to consider while selecting your University?

Yes, finding the right university matters, but before you get too attached to a program, consider where in the world you’ll be! How far away from home do you want to be? Are you ready to deal with visa application processes? Have you ever visited the country you’re going to? What is the weather like there? 

It’s important to ask yourself these questions because ultimately, you will be able to thrive academically only if you are comfortable physically. Everything from culture, weather, proximity to loved ones, food, and even future job opportunities is important to consider. Also note that paying for college tuition, and pricing can be vastly different from country to country, especially for local versus international students. It’s important to take this into consideration as well.

There are great schools all over the world — narrowing down your list of the most suitable international universities is an important first filter to apply. 

What program are you interested in?

I so often see students aiming for international universities instead of programs. Yes, some schools have great ratings and awesome professors, but it doesn’t make sense to go to a great computer science university if you’re interested in drama (unless they have a great drama school too). It is very much worth looking into departmental reputations, research opportunities, curricula, and more when looking at a school. You should also consider what sorts of interdisciplinary opportunities there are if you want to explore things beyond your field of study.

Furthermore, to select your university, checking its ranking is important. It is a combination of lot of factors – but many universities have great facilities, faculty, and resources. Look beyond the facade of the university homepage and dig deeper into what you want to study. You might find something unique!

Scholarship Opportunities

Some schools offer scholarships, but many have conditions tacked on. Some of these are merit-based, some are need-based, and many are limited to students from certain demographics (e.g. local students, women, etc.). There are also some organizations and government bodies that offer special internships depending on the program an applicant is applying for or an applicant’s background. It’s worth looking for these scholarship opportunities to find the best country for study for Indian students. Check in your home country, the country your university is in, organizations connected to programs you’re interested in, and within universities themselves for scholarship programs. Scholarship money is money for your future and may open up other opportunities for you.

On-campus jobs

Another way to earn while in college is by applying for an on-campus job! Lots of universities have work-study programs, or at least offer paid jobs to students. There are often also employment opportunities in the area that you can take advantage of during the school year. See if your school has any of these opportunities and get in touch with alumni or advisors to see how students have taken them up in the past.

Extracurricular activities

Are you interested in sports? Are you a passionate debater? Do you like volunteering in the community? If extracurricular activities were a big part of your high school career (or if you’re even interested in trying new things in college), you should definitely look into what sorts of clubs, teams, and outreach programs your university has. 

In terms of sports and other competitive activities, some colleges have a larger sports culture than others – if that’s important or interesting to you, then look into that as well! This applies to things like music and theatre as well – schools with strong performing and visual arts programs will often have discounted or free tickets for students to attend and support their peers. It’s a great way to build new interests.

Consider the campus and surrounding area of the university you select for studying

Some universities are in more remote parts of the country but have big, beautiful, historic campuses. Some universities are in the middle of cities but have less spacious amenities. Colleges come in all shapes and sizes and are placed in all sorts of settings. It is important to manage your expectations and ensure that you are taking your needs into account. The setting will, after all, determine everything from what you do on the weekends, to internship opportunities. 

On that same note, some colleges have a few hundred students total, and others have thousands. Depending on the college, classes can be as small as 3 students or as large as 500 or more. If you are the kind of student that needs more 1-on-1 time, and a close-knit community, maybe a smaller school would be a better fit. If you like to be a part of a big community, with larger events and more diversity and energy, then maybe a bigger school works for you. Not sure? Lots of alumni and current students post about their experiences on online college forums, which are definitely worth looking into.

Application Fees and Essays

Studying out of India comes with its own set of perks and challenges, and managing finances abroad while studying at the top universities abroad is exhausting. After entering one of the best affordable countries to study, the first concern that Indian students still face is planning the expenses of living, their cost of education and balancing work and life. 

While it’s ambitious and exciting to try your luck at a lot of schools, you will most likely be subject to a decent application fee for each of them. This is the first of many places where you’ll have to make a payment overseas from India; tuition and other expenses will come after you commit to a university. I highly recommend looking into zero forex mark-up cards to make these payments – remember, finances can get tricky, and it’s good to set yourself up for practical spending and saving opportunities as early as possible. Equip yourself with important information about do’s & don’ts while carrying money abroad.

However, this shall not bother you, as we have gathered the following tips on money management:

What to consider while selecting your University?

Yes, finding the right university matters, but before you get too attached to a program, consider where in the world you’ll be! How far away from home do you want to be? Are you ready to deal with visa application processes? Have you ever visited the country you’re going to? What is the weather like there? 

It’s important to ask yourself these questions because ultimately, you will be able to thrive academically only if you are comfortable physically. Everything from culture, weather, proximity to loved ones, food, and even future job opportunities is important to consider. Also note that paying for college tuition, and pricing can be vastly different from country to country, especially for local versus international students. It’s important to take this into consideration as well.

There are great schools all over the world — narrowing down your list of the most suitable international universities is an important first filter to apply. 

What program are you interested in?

I so often see students aiming for international universities instead of programs. Yes, some schools have great ratings and awesome professors, but it doesn’t make sense to go to a great computer science university if you’re interested in drama (unless they have a great drama school too). It is very much worth looking into departmental reputations, research opportunities, curricula, and more when looking at a school. You should also consider what sorts of interdisciplinary opportunities there are if you want to explore things beyond your field of study.

Furthermore, to select your university, checking its ranking is important. It is a combination of lot of factors – but many universities have great facilities, faculty, and resources. Look beyond the facade of the university homepage and dig deeper into what you want to study. You might find something unique!

Scholarship Opportunities

Some schools offer scholarships, but many have conditions tacked on. Some of these are merit-based, some are need-based, and many are limited to students from certain demographics (e.g. local students, women, etc.). There are also some organizations and government bodies that offer special internships depending on the program an applicant is applying for or an applicant’s background. It’s worth looking for these scholarship opportunities to find the best country for study for Indian students. Check in your home country, the country your university is in, organizations connected to programs you’re interested in, and within universities themselves for scholarship programs. Scholarship money is money for your future and may open up other opportunities for you.

On-campus jobs

Another way to earn while in college is by applying for an on-campus job! Lots of universities have work-study programs, or at least offer paid jobs to students. There are often also employment opportunities in the area that you can take advantage of during the school year. See if your school has any of these opportunities and get in touch with alumni or advisors to see how students have taken them up in the past.

Extracurricular activities

Are you interested in sports? Are you a passionate debater? Do you like volunteering in the community? If extracurricular activities were a big part of your high school career (or if you’re even interested in trying new things in college), you should definitely look into what sorts of clubs, teams, and outreach programs your university has. 

In terms of sports and other competitive activities, some colleges have a larger sports culture than others – if that’s important or interesting to you, then look into that as well! This applies to things like music and theatre as well – schools with strong performing and visual arts programs will often have discounted or free tickets for students to attend and support their peers. It’s a great way to build new interests.

Consider the campus and surrounding area of the university you select for studying

Some universities are in more remote parts of the country but have big, beautiful, historic campuses. Some universities are in the middle of cities but have less spacious amenities. Colleges come in all shapes and sizes and are placed in all sorts of settings. It is important to manage your expectations and ensure that you are taking your needs into account. The setting will, after all, determine everything from what you do on the weekends, to internship opportunities. 

On that same note, some colleges have a few hundred students total, and others have thousands. Depending on the college, classes can be as small as 3 students or as large as 500 or more. If you are the kind of student that needs more 1-on-1 time, and a close-knit community, maybe a smaller school would be a better fit. If you like to be a part of a big community, with larger events and more diversity and energy, then maybe a bigger school works for you. Not sure? Lots of alumni and current students post about their experiences on online college forums, which are definitely worth looking into.

Application Fees and Essays

Studying out of India comes with its own set of perks and challenges, and managing finances abroad while studying at the top universities abroad is exhausting. After entering one of the best affordable countries to study, the first concern that Indian students still face is planning the expenses of living, their cost of education and balancing work and life. 

While it’s ambitious and exciting to try your luck at a lot of schools, you will most likely be subject to a decent application fee for each of them. This is the first of many places where you’ll have to make a payment overseas from India; tuition and other expenses will come after you commit to a university. I highly recommend looking into zero forex mark-up cards to make these payments – remember, finances can get tricky, and it’s good to set yourself up for practical spending and saving opportunities as early as possible. Equip yourself with important information about do’s & don’ts while carrying money abroad.

However, this shall not bother you, as we have gathered the following tips on money management:

  1. TIPS ON PART-TIME JOBS

    • Seek part-time jobs that not only give you money but also related valuable experiences.
    • Do not dwell too much on earning money, as this can distract you from the primary objective,i.e. to study.
  2. TIPS ON EDUCATION:

    • Focus on your studies and save yourself from failing any examination. Otherwise, you might have to pay additional tuition fees, which will disturb your financial estimation.
    • Try to borrow books from the library.
    • Look for scholarships offered by these universities or your own country and avail of them. This helps big time in reducing the overall cost of education.
  3. TIPS ON DAILY LIFE:

    • Try to share accommodation with friends or other students.
    • Keep a close eye on your account balance, and track the expenses.
    • Cook at home more often to avoid falling prey to big fat food bills.
    • Set your monthly expenses and look for discounts and offers in the supermarkets.

Coming back to application fees, instead of racking up a huge bill and spending excessive hours on essays, try to use the above tips to narrow down your list to places that you really appreciate. Counsellors often recommend applying a combination of “safety”, “target”, and “reach” schools. This is good advice, but often, students will only put real thought into the target and reach schools and choose their safety schools quite randomly. 

Ideally, you should be able to glance through your list and find out exciting things about each school you’re applying to. If you don’t like a school, don’t put it on your list! Find one with easier admissions criteria and some great things to look forward to. I promise you this is possible and urge you to consider the importance of this.

A positive outcome of carefully researching and picking the schools on your list is that it’ll be much easier to write your essays. If you are excited by a school, your honesty and authenticity are more likely to shine through in your writing. Know yourself and what you want, and the rest will come to you more naturally. 

Remember, you are not just applying for a spot at a school; you’re also giving the school the opportunity to take you on as a student. Advocate for yourself, your needs, and your interests just as much as you would advocate for the prestige and reputation of a university.

Once you’ve done the groundwork and gotten accepted to join a university abroad, there are a few things to consider: handling international currencies, how not to fall prey to the ever-fluctuating conversion charges and the bunch of fees associated with international transactions, and so on. Niyo Global card comes to your rescue here. 

How Niyo Global Card will make it easy to manage expenses while studying at the top universities abroad?

  • Easy INR loading:

Any student will find it difficult to fall into the trap of furnishing multiple documents and keeping them all in place. With Niyo Global, you just have to download the app and you can open your account in simple steps. 

 

  • Zero Forex Markup charges

Once you own the Niyo Global card, you get to save 3-5% each time you make a forex transaction. The best part is that you can use this card for any international transaction, living in India, without having to pay heavy forex charges.

  • Exciting Deals and offers

You can enjoy exclusive travel and debit card offers and save money. With Niyo Global you can avail customized deals while travelling. 

  • Lock in the currency rate

There are fluctuations in currency rates on a daily basis.This can terribly impact the budget you set for your foreign trip/ monthly expenses abroad in the first place. To save you from this, Niyo Global card comes with the facility of locking the currency rate for the particular amount you load in the card. 

  • Get Monthly Interest Payout

While you take in the sights and explore new countries, you can earn up to 6.5% interest* p.a. on your savings with monthly interest payout.

  • Manage Card limit

You can lock or set a limit on ATM withdrawals, card swipes or online transactions with Niyo Global. Hence, helping you make transactions in control. 

  • Your Money is Insured

With Niyo, your money is always safe with an insurance cover of up to ₹5 Lakh by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), a subsidiary of RBI.

  • Stay Updated, Constantly and live currency convertor

The real-time currency converter and live transaction tracking facility in the Niyo Global app helps you keep a close eye on the currency rates as well as you account statement. All this, so that you never end up paying more when handling foreign currencies.

Get your Niyo Global card today!

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