Applying to a foreign university is usually the most daunting task for a student who wants to study abroad, but it is usually not so difficult. Living in a foreign country while studying abroad can be an eye-opening experience. Not only do you get to see new places, meet new people and indulge in many of the local and cultural activities, you also get to gain a whole new perspective on life in that new country.
Depending on your current education program and goals, you may want to consider expanding your potential by exploring alternative education and career path. Your personal experiences while living abroad may also provide you with a greater understanding and appreciation of the Canadian culture. You could also explore different intern opportunities so you can gain better insight as to what you can expect when you decide to pursue a particular career internationally.
When to apply
The basic rule is the sooner, the better. If you apply early, you have a greater chance of arranging everything on time, and you will be able to apply for another school if you are not accepted. Early applications also give you greater chances of getting a scholarship.
High ranking universities often have an application deadline of up to one year before the start of the course. The University of Cambridge in England, for example, has their application deadline in October for the programs that start in October the following year. Ordinary universities often have deadlines approximately six months before the start of the course while smaller colleges and low-ranking universities often take application up to a month or two before the semester starts. However, it is always better to apply early, so you have enough time to submit a complete application and get a visa on time. If you want to study in the United States, you should also apply in good time since visa interview slots will be in shortage at many US Embassies close to the big starting dates.
How many schools should I apply for?
It is better to make one good application than many bad ones. Often you can get a reply within a month, so if you apply early, you still have the chance to apply for more schools if you don’t get accepted. Many schools charge application fees from international students so that is another reason not to apply to so many schools.
For low ranking universities, community colleges and language schools it is easy to get accepted so applying to one school is usually enough, but if you apply for high ranking universities, it will be harder. Then you might apply for a couple at the same time.
Requirements to get accepted to a university abroad
Each school and program have their own admission requirements which you can look up on the school’s website. To apply for an undergraduate program, you need to have graduated from high school, and you will need to fulfill the school’s language requirements. To study at Master level you need a Bachelor’s Degree and/or several years work experience. Language requirements are usually higher at Master level since you will be dealing with a more complex academic language.
Documents needed to submit when applying
What you should submit with your application differ from school to school. You will find this information under Admission Requirements (or a similar headline) on the school’s website. Here are some of the most common documents that you need to submit when you apply to a university abroad:
The school’s application form
This usually consists of simple questions like personal details and details about the program that you are applying for. Read it carefully and fill out all the required fields. Do not forget to sign it.
Your grades from high school and college.
These documents must be translated into English. Some schools even require that your high school or translator send the grades directly to them.
A copy of your passport
This is needed so that the school can issue a visa letter. To some countries, for example Japan, you might also need to send copies of entry stamps and visas from previous visits.
Proof that you meet the school’s English language requirements.
In the US the TOEFL test is usually requested while English and Australian universities prefer an IELTS exam. However, most universities approve both of these tests and many also accept the Cambridge exam. The scores required for entry depend on the school and program that you are applying for.
A financial statement to show that you can pay for your studies and living expenses. You will need a bank statement in English. It should preferably be a letter written by the bank that states how big your assets are and how much it corresponds to in the school’s currency. The letter must be signed and stamped by the bank. Read the school’s instructions for more information about what amounts you need and how it should be documented.
Motivation letters and reference letters
Universities in the English-speaking world don’t only look at your grades. It is also common that you are asked to submit references and motivation letters to prove that you are a suitable student. A good motivation letter can help you to get accepted even if your grades are not great and it can also help you to get a scholarship from the school, so put some effort into these letters.
Study Abroad Scholarships
Any hesitation about studying abroad is typically related to the cost. However, what most students don’t know is that they can actually apply their current on-campus financial aid package to their study abroad trip in addition to scholarships. In fact, for some students, particularly those who pay out-of-state-tuition, studying abroad can sometimes be cheaper than a traditional on-campus semester. A study abroad scholarship is a monetary award for students to use toward the expenses of their program such as travel, course, credits, books and lodging. Students must apply for scholarships and some can be very competitive while others are underutilized. There are several types of study abroad scholarships to apply for such as:
These awards are based on a student’s academic, artistic, athletic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant’s extracurricular activities and community service record. It’s important to note that qualifications will vary based on the particular scholarship.
These are scholarships for applicants who initially qualify based on factors such as gender, race, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category, but qualifications will vary based on the particular scholarship.
These are scholarships awarded by a country to students planning to pursue a study abroad program in that particular country. They are awarded as an incentive to study in that country instead of elsewhere. Check with government-sponsored travel websites of the country where you wish to study to see what scholarships are available.
Program-specific scholarships are offered by individual study abroad programs and/or the colleges and universities where they may be associated to qualified applicants. These scholarships are often given on the basis of academic and personal achievement, but qualifications will vary based on the particular scholarship. Check with your study abroad program and university to see what scholarships are available.
Subject-specific scholarships are awarded by study abroad programs or institutions to students based on their particular major or field of study. These scholarships may require the recipients to enroll in subject-specific courses while abroad or conduct subject-specific research while abroad, but it’s important to note that qualifications will vary based on each scholarship.