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Factors to Consider when Choosing to Study Abroad

Hannah Kagawala International

Factors to Consider When Choosing to Study Abroad

 

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to get international exposure, receive quality education, and experience living life on your own. However, it is an important decision that must be made after giving sufficient thought.

As studying abroad requires a lot of financial investment, I first asked myself a very important question:

 

Why do I want to study abroad?

The answers helped me gain insight into my personal motivations and guided my entire research process for studying abroad.

I would recommend you ask yourself the same question first and then decide whether studying abroad is a practical decision for you. Some reasons could be: 

the quality of education is better than your own country; the career opportunities are better; the research opportunities are better; you want to live independently; you want to have an international exposure; you want to seek employment abroad; you want to settle abroad; and so on.

Once you have figured out why you want to study abroad, there are a whole range of factors to consider before you decide where to study abroad. Here are some of the considerations I made before choosing to study in Northumbria University:

 

1.Location

This is possibly the best starting point in the research process. When thinking about location, consider the climate, the culture, and the cost of living. Since I was interested to study in several countries, these really helped me narrow down my choices. UK seemed ideal for me as I could experience living in a colder climate (I come from a hot country), have world-class education, and immerse myself into the fascinating British culture. Within the UK, I applied in universities in more affordable cities like Newcastle and Manchester as I had budget restrictions. 

When deciding on the location, you can consider several things such as - do you want to study somewhere picturesque? Or where the culture is fascinating? Where opportunities are better? Or where there is world-class education? Where you have friends and family? Or where studying and living is more affordable? It’s up to you to decide what factors are important!

 

2.Course

For me, this was the most important consideration. Studying a master’s course, I don’t have the freedom to just ‘wing it’. I had a fair idea of the type of things I wanted to learn on my course so I was able to easily eliminate courses that didn’t give me these learnings. I spent months researching courses and looked at 86 universities in the UK before applying (don’t worry, you don’t need to do so much research!). Along with the course modules, I noted the university rankings in the UK and worldwide (there are many sites that provide this information), the student satisfaction levels at the university and the course if possible, and the requirements for seeking admission.

 

3.Career Opportunities

Whether you are looking to work in the country of your study or planning to head back home, you should be aware of the career opportunities that are available after your course. Read up on the industry or how good the hiring market is. Are the skills you will learn in demand? Also research about how the university can help you to seek graduate employment.

 

4.Financials

For most people, financials help narrow down choices a lot. The tuition fees and living expenses can really guide your course decisions as they will take up the major chunk of your budget. There are several websites that will help you calculate the living expenses in a city if you don’t have much idea about them. Also, look up what scholarship opportunities are available in the universities and whether you could be eligible to win any of them. Certain European countries such as Germany also offer free or very low cost education! 

 

5.Network

Finally, if you have some people you know and trust in a country or city, it is probably a good idea to choose that place to study as they can help you out in case something goes wrong. I have family in the UK and although they live a few hours away, I know that if something goes wrong they will be there to help me.

 

And, that’s it! Although it may seem simple, the journey from deciding to study abroad to actually applying for courses is a long one! If there are education consultants where you live, I strongly advise you to take their guidance as you may find the process too intimidating at some point. As a final piece of advice, while researching courses, maintain a pros and cons list with various factors as it will really come in handy when finally deciding which courses to apply for!

Good luck!

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