Higher education overseas still remains a fad amongst most Indian students, mainly because of the foreign tag or stamp that they will have in their bio-data after successful completion of their academic programmes. A large chunk of Indian students are going overseas for coveted degrees or diplomas in varied fields, so that they can step into the fast track career lane. Definitely, education overseas lends great credibility for aspirants as well as industry are aware of the quality being delivered by many of the institutions across the globe, though some have opened as mere shops too, which we need to be cautious about. Countries like the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, France, New Zealand, etc., offer programmes across all sectors; just name one and you will find a plethora of them starting from foundation to specialised levels. There are a few important aspects of studying abroad that we need to look at before we actually land up in an offshore country.
How to choose a programme: Tab your aptitude first and go for subjects and programmes that you are interested in. Don't get swayed by the current trends. A course catering to a particular industry may not fetch the same high salary after three to five years, which it is offering to applicants currently. But if you find interest in a particular subject then you will always find ways to excel in your work area. You can even think of starting your own venture in the related field in the future.
Countries and popular programmes: Programmes in IT, business and management are most popular with countries like the US, UK, France and Singapore. You can find Germany to be the best place for science and engineering programmes. Medicine and Aeronautics programmes are quite known in the US and Russia. Programmes in finance and accounting are something that the US and Australia offer in abundance. For hospitality and travel programmes, you can look at the UK, Australia and Singapore, whereas, for fashion and design programmes, Italy and France are favoured destinations.
Start doing homework: Make a detailed study of the sources for scholarships, fellowships, financial aid, work study or other assistance available. Opportunities for part time work and related regulations in the university should be studied well in advance, though the first priority should only be studies. Get the academic requirements, including the acceptability of Indian qualifications, confirmed by the admission authorities. Search engines of Google, embassies and foreign offices of many overseas universities in India can provide you with all details about the programme you intend to go for in a particular country.
Information gallery: If the US is the destination you are looking for it is advisable to source all information from the United States Educational Foundation in India commonly called USEFI and also from www.fulbrightindia.org. Similarly for the UK, you can get all the required information from the British Council's website www.britishcouncil. org/india.html and www.ucas.com/ apply/index.html; for Australia log on to www.studyinaustralia.gov.au; for New Zealand log on to www.studyingnewzealand.com; for Canada log on to www.studycanada. ca/english; for Singapore log on to www.singaporeedu. gov.sg; for Ireland log on to www.educationireland.ie; for France log on to www.edufrance.in; and for Germany you can get information on www.daad.de/deutschland/index.en.
Examinations: If score reports of examinations such as GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, MCAT, LSAT and SAT are to be produced for the sought programme, plan ahead, since these cannot be sought overnight. In fact, planning should start at least eight to 12 months prior to the admission process. Statement of Purpose and essays in application: Don't ever underestimate the importance of essays and Statement of Purpose (SOP) in your application. They are the most important aspects of your admission to a particular course. Your personal statement provides you with the opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the other highly qualified people and is of major importance. A good SOP is a very important part of the application since it gives the school admissions board the opportunity to evaluate you as a person holistically. Open with a summary statement of your preparedness, then describe your background, education, and community and the reasons you became interested in the profession of your choice. Also discuss how the school will help you meet your educational and career goals.