Having to prepare for studying abroad is an elaborate process that should start from the moment you first conceived the idea of traveling for education.
Studying abroad, with its myriad of benefits, can only be achieved through thorough and timely arrangements, hence the need to start preparations early.
According to a 2021 report by Statista, over 750,000 students apply for admission in the UK yearly. However, similar applications are also recorded in other world-class education destinations. Hence the high competition for admission to coveted international education destinations.
Although the decision of admission officers, consulate staff, and other stakeholders involved in the international education system hinges on a wide array of factors, there is no denial that timely preparation plays an essential role in the success or failure of every international education process.
Stages of preparation and the right time to start
This should start a year or more before secondary school graduation for undergraduate studies. However, if you are preparing for post-graduate studies, you will need to commence immediately after deciding to continue your academic pursuit abroad.
There are over 12 countries and a thousand institutions renowned for high-quality education, not to mention the myriad of similar programs you will have to sift through to find your ideal one.
If you must make the best choice, you must start exploring as early as possible.
Prepare your documents
First, apply for your international passport. Though this is requested chiefly at the visa application stage, you must get it early before getting engrossed with the subsequent activities.
Thoroughly preparing your documents for study abroad is essential and should be completed long before application time. The documents you need to prepare include
- Copies of the certificate from your previous studies
- Academic transcripts
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume
- Reference letter
- Proof of language proficiency
- Proof of financial support
- Motivation letter
- Project description, etc.
While the readiness of some of these documents, like the CV and motivation letter, is entirely dependent on you, others could take months to be sourced, especially with the continuous strikes in our local education system.
The right time to start preparing your documents is as soon as they become available for collection and registration. At most, 4-6 months before application time. It’s essential to prepare the CV, project description, motivation letter, proof of language proficiency, and others dependent on you at the same time. This is to allow for corrections and content improvement.
This is a less flexible, often rigorous stage in the preparation process. However, all you need to be successful is meticulous attention to detail, honesty, and promptness.
Most of the documents you already prepared would be requested at this stage, together with an application form. The success of this stage would determine whether you will progress with the others or wait till the following year. Hence, it’s vital that you, amongst other things, apply early. Possibly 6-10 months ahead of enrollment.
Though admission officers insist that applying early doesn’t increase one’s prospects of admission, there is no denying that the competition is less as the population of early applicants is always less than regular and late applicants.
Other benefits of applying early include better admission guidance, ample time to apply to a new course or consider offers from other schools, better accommodation (if you wish to stay on campus), and enough time for further preparations.
Irrespective of how early your admission offer letter arrives, endeavor to start the visa application process immediately. Though consulates usually decide on study visas within eight weeks after the interview, the F, J, M visas for the USA, tier 4 for the UK, Canadian student visa & study permit, and others demanded by various countries have all been reported to take up to 3 months. So, to be on the safe side: start early.
This is an extensive stage. It includes everything from sorting out accommodation to flight booking, informing friends and families, notifying your bank, packing, etc.
Like the previous stages, endeavor to start your travel preparation as early as possible. This would help you save costs, prepare properly, and assuage the stress usually associated with this stage.
Although some countries have the earliest allowed arrival time, e.g., 28 days for Canada, 30 for USA & UK, and 90 for Australia, it’s advised that you travel to your destination early. This way, you will better acclimatize and settle in before the program commencement date.