This is a very interesting question that has been asked by every study abroad aspirant. Some students are very much intimidated by the large amounts of paperwork that they have to fill out for the study abroad applications. It makes sense to have someone be a guiding light for this process. It seems like a great time to get some career counseling through a study abroad consultant. And yes, it does make you feel better to have someone tell you exactly what to do.
This can seem especially tempting when you see the number of resources available at your disposal. A quick google search on study abroad career counseling center in Bangalore itself shows 80+ such organizations. It is easy to stop in at one of these centers and have them go over your profile. They do not guarantee admission into any said university but charge exorbitant amounts of money to do the paperwork for your application and for the visa itself.
However, there are a few resources that you can use before paying 20k-25k rupees to a study abroad career counseling center.
- If you haven’t done it already, figure out your interests and passions; and what subjects you might be interested in.
- Look up people on LinkedIn who you might be interested in emulating. List out about 10 people who are doing something related to your path of interest. Call them or message them on LinkedIn. In some cases, you may not be able to contact them because you are not in their network. If this happens, there is a workaround. Join one of the LinkedIn groups that they are enrolled in. Then you become part of their network, and can contact them.
- Ask them questions about the job, what universities to apply to, the lifestyle, day to day work etc. See if it interests you.
- If they do not respond, you can view their career path on LinkedIn, and use that to determine your own career path.
- Use information from points C and D to determine list of universities that are relevant to your interests.
In most cases, what you have done in points A-E leads to same result as you paying the career counseling center 20-25k. The list of universities that the career counseling center provides you is a conservative estimate, as they want to make sure that you get into the universities they recommend. When you do the above process, you ensure that you understand your career goals clearly, in addition to getting a list of universities.
For each application:
- Call the new application department of the university you are applying to with any questions you may have. Make sure you have read the details of the application carefully before contacting them. You’d be surprised how much you can find with a simple google search.
- Contact students on Facebook groups who are going through the same process. Add them as friends on facebook / message them.
- Answer questions on these forums if you know the answer and ask questions as well. This is a good way to build a rapport with some of your possible future colleagues.
- Post questions on online forums where people are applying to the same university and going through the same process.
- Contact students (2nd year) who have recently gone through the same process. They are very much aware of the process as they have been successful in the application process in the recent process.
- If you must, go to the study abroad career counseling for their free first time consultation.
p.s. Make sure you contact students who have recently gone through the study abroad application process. Do not contact any seniors or graduates with these questions. They would mostly have forgotten about the application process and would get annoyed.
So, a lot of the work for both immigration and application can be done by yourself through reading the given instructions and using google search/forums/Facebook groups. This type of research and attention to detail will help you out when you actually study abroad. There will be nobody to hold your hand when you are overseas by yourself. And you could use that extra money to pay your fees.
You could still use them if it makes you feel better that there is someone guiding you through the process; but that person will not be there in your university. You will come across several more situations when you have to do tons of paperwork yourself and research online forums as well.
I hope that this information serves you well in your study abroad applications, and I wish you the best of luck and hope you get into the best possible university.
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If you are in the process of applying, and are wondering what the best way to pay for your studies are, then start creating a strategy for that as well. You should look into information on student loans, graduate research assistantships, graduate teaching assistantships and scholarships. There are several resources online that can help you with this. One of them is the “Scholarships for Indian Citizens” book shown here.
Concerned about high costs of studying abroad. Get our free guide to obtaining scholarships here.