It is the start of a new academic year for most universities and you may be toying around with the idea of undertaking a postgraduate course abroad. You probably got inspired by interacting with someone who studied abroad, or you feel that the quality of education and training would be better, or you just need a different environment (it is a legitimate reason I promise).
Do your homework. It will be a longer process than you what you estimate. I learnt the hard way and lost a whole year out. If you’re going to leave your country for studies, go to an above average ranking university. So look for rankings on sites like Times Higher Education and QS Top universities if you’re unsure. You can go a step ahead and look at the institution’s rating for the department you’re targeting.
You can apply to as many universities as your time allows, I’d recommend 2-3 for your masters course and the number may be higher for PhD applications. Look at the course details from the university’s website to ensure it meets your needs and if you meet the eligibility requirements. If you’re feeling extra petty, then you can look at the climate too. It’s not a factor I’d recommend for you to consider however.
English and other tests
Depending on your country of origin and the country you are planning to go to, you may have to prove your English literacy through English tests. Some courses require competency tests such as GRE and GMAT. Results may take varied time to be released so factor this in your time frame.
Tuition and living expenses are almost always sky high. If you need financial aid, you can check your scholarship options from websites such as ‘Scholarship positions’ and ‘Advance Africa’. ‘Find a Masters’ and “Find a PhD’ have impressive search functions that definitely make your life easier. Check the financial aid pages of the university you are applying to as they will always highlight scholarship schemes associated with the university.
As if life was not hard enough, every step of the way has deadlines to keep track of. From your course application to submission of supporting documents for your application and scholarships. In this particular case, last minute living will not work, do everything in advance. Deadlines for international students tend to be earlier.
After securing your admission, you will start have paper work to process depending on your visa requirements. Use the time to find out more about the country you will be moving to, its people, culture and systems. Google has it all and it will go a long way in reducing your culture shock. Check the societies in your university that you can join based on your interests, it’s an easy way to make new friends and makes settling-in a happier process.
Besides stellar education, there are plenty of benefits of studying abroad. You will interact with people from different cultures and that will hopefully make you a better human and challenge your understanding of the world. You will get to network, eat different foods, indulge in new activities – all this of course while studying hard.
Happy postgraduate hunting!
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