Studying abroad is truly life-changing, and you should do it. But first things first – a lot of planning needs to go into a study abroad application. When SHOULD you study abroad? Can you afford it? Which country should you even choose, and then how do you apply? Read on for all the details.
Make a plan
Two of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is when to study abroad and how to pay for it. It may also be a challenge to convince your parents to let you study abroad if they’re resistant. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to apply – let’s make sure it works with your life first.
When should I study abroad?
If you’ve just graduated from a bachelor’s program and you’re ready to go abroad for a master’s or Ph.D., it may be an easy decision when you can study abroad. But if you’re in the middle of your bachelor’s degree, when you go may matter very much. You’ll have to figure out where studying abroad fits in the midst of your other academic commitments, like internships, co-ops, and course requirements.
Depending on your university or major, you may have little choice. Not many schools allow freshman students to go abroad, and it is still uncommon during sophomore year. Junior year is a common time to go abroad, and it may still be possible senior year. Be sure to check with your university’s study abroad office or your academic advisor who can provide information on what’s most typical and convenient for a student at your school.
Can I study Abroad as an Engineering or pre-med student?
You absolutely can study medicine or engineering abroad. There’s a common misconception out there that for students majoring in pre-med or other STEM fields, studying abroad won’t work with their very structured academic requirements. This is untrue! While you may have to plan a bit more ahead if you have a lot of academic requirements, it is possible to study abroad, and will likely make you an even stronger med-school candidate.
Contact your school’s office of pre-professional advising the second you know you want to study abroad. They’ll be able to work with your schedule to see how you can fit it in. While you might not be able to do a full year abroad, you can usually still fit in a semester, or at the very least, a summer program.
Can I afford to study abroad?
There’s no way to sugar coat it – studying abroad can be expensive, and it can be a huge deterrent to those who want to study abroad. But you have options, and how much it costs will depend on the country you go to and of course, how long you stay.
How much does it cost to study abroad?
According to the Institute for International Education, a semester abroad costs, on average, $18,000 a semester. Depending on how much you pay per semester at your home institution, this could be on par or even less. Beyond program fees, you’ll also have to consider airfare and cost-of-living.
If you’re living in New York City, the cost-of-living might seem much lower in Costa Rica. And if you’re going to school in Stockholm currently, studying abroad in New Delhi might be quite affordable. Expect adding a good amount of spending money to that total as well.
“A semester abroad costs, on average, $18,000 a semester.”
But there’s good news – you have many options, especially if you’re looking to study abroad at the bachelor’s level. For instance, if you are currently receiving financial aid to go to college, that financial aid will still go toward your study abroad program.
You could also take out a student loan or accumulate some scholarship money. And, of course, if you can’t afford to go for a full year, a summer program would still get you that life-changing experience for a fraction of the cost.
How can i convince my parents to let me study abroad?
Your family might be hesitant to let you study abroad. Put yourself in their shoes – they’re probably just nervous, especially if you’ve always lived nearby or if you’ve (or they) never been out of the country before. But if you build your case, you can probably convince them.
First, be prepared – they’re going to have a lot of questions and you’ll need to have answers. Make sure you know how you’re going to potentially pay for it because they’re definitely going to want to hear that. Outline the many benefits of study abroad, and ensure them that you’ll communicate with them often when you’re abroad. If you approach the conversation with empathy, you’re sure to have a good chance in convincing even the most protective parents.
Begin your search
Once you know roughly when you’ll go and how you’ll pay for it (as well as getting the green light from your parents if you need it), the more fun stuff begins. Let’s decide where you should go!
Where should i study abroad?
Maybe you already know exactly what country or continent you want to study in – but which university? Or maybe you’re truly open to countries but you know you want to go to a top biology program since you’re pre-med.
One other thing to consider: Does your university partner with universities abroad? If so, this may be the easiest route for you, especially since it’ll likely be seamless when it comes to transferring credits. Many schools have partnerships with a variety of universities all over the world, so ask your study abroad office.