International students exist in almost every university around the globe. Especially, countries like the United States, Australia, UK, Canada, China, Japan, India and Germany that attract thousands of international students every year in both undergraduate and graduate level. So, what’s going through the head of international students before their arrival at the host university where they will live and study at?
Through this practical guide we will go through and highlight the factors the international students take into account before leaving their home country to study in a public or private university or college abroad.
Hope you enjoy it!
1. University reputation
“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving”
William Shakespeare, British poet, playwright and actor
Prestigious universities attract many international students every year. Sometimes, the competition among students is fierce, as the acceptance rate of some educational institutions is quite low so international students consider this is as an indicator of high-quality education and excellent academic background after graduation. Moreover, the reputation of the university includes other factors like world university rankings, researches and initiatives taken by the university to benefit the local community, and the country where the university is based in.
2. University tuition fees
“Studying is something I really love doing, and I just hope to have enough money for tuition”
Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russian former Women’s Chess Champion
“Money matters” play a crucial role at the selection of a university for the majority of international students, as the tuition fees for international students in some universities are relatively high and sometimes not affordable, even for wealthy families. That’s why many universities have a variety of scholarships or financial aid programs-loans, and tuition waivers-available to help incentivize students to make the decision to study abroad.
“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended. You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.”
Sun Tzu, Military general, strategist and philosopher
Crime rates and public safety indicators in college towns or cities where universities are based are one of the factors that students take into consideration when it comes to safety while studying abroad. No student wants to get victimized or harmed by getting involved in criminal actions caused by third persons.
Parents especially are concerned about this issue since their child/children can put themselves in serious risks when they study in towns or cities where criminal actions occur very often or when the local community, university, and police are not able to take actions in order to prevent them.
“Real cultural diversity results from the interchange of ideas, products, influences, not from the insular development of a single national style”
Tyler Cowen, American economist, academic and writer
International students consider the factor of diversity in the universities they apply for. “How many international students study in my university or what’s the percentage of international students here”, are two of the most common questions that international students ask the university advisors or look for on universities’ websites. It’s true that these students feel supported or welcomed by knowing there are other internationals who left their home countries for studies as they did, invested time, money & energy leaving behind the lives and comforts they had in their home countries and took similar risks by beginning a new life from scratch.
5. Job opportunities while studying
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”
Steve Jobs, American entrepreneur, marketer and inventor
International students trying to cover living expenses, tuition fees and other costs that may come up while abroad, in many cases seek to find job vacancies with flexible shifts in order for them to be in a position to work in parallel with their studies. Moreover, there are international students who pursue to gain practical experience in the subject of their interest or other major-related jobs by looking for major-related job openings.
In any case, international students are encouraged to apply for a job in parallel with their studies since the benefits they acquire are much more than just economic.
6. Second language fluency
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his mind. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”
Nelson Mandela, African anti-apartheid revolutionary politician and philanthropist
Most students who decide to cross their nation’s borders in order to study in foreign educational institutions have language barriers since they are not able to speak their native languages. Students may overcome these barriers by practising their foreign language skills on a regular basis with their classmates and teachers, by committing themselves in projects and presentations and by in-class participation. In this way international students are not only competitive students taking fairly high grades but also they get connected with native speakers and the local community of the country they live & study in.
My Golden Rule of Networking is simple: Don’t keep score”
Harvey Mackay, American entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author
International students participate in social events thrown by the university or student organizations in order to meet and interact with people coming from all over the world expanding in this way, their network of people they get in touch with. Furthermore, they are in a position to build strong relationships with people who have similar experiences and also to build bridges with others that they don’t have so much in common with.
8. Student life and involvement
“The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.”
Vera Nazarian, Armenian-Russian writer
Student life is another factor that international students take into account before applying for a university abroad. International students are interested in getting involved and actively participate in student associations related to their majors, athletic teams and other groups (i.e. student government/council, student & university advocates etc.) pursuing not only to explore and enjoy diverse aspects of their student life but also to apply the experiences and influences they carry proving their ability and willingness to make an impact contributing in the development of the teams & groups they are members of.
“Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either”
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and public intellectual
As I said before, student life is not all about studies. Students feel the need to hang out with peers, to have fun and interact with people off-campus, to attend performances, go shopping, to stroll downtown or arrange short trips to other cities using public means of transport, trains or by renting a car. We should keep in mind that students feel relaxed when entertain themselves, chill and spend time with friends, practice activities they love and in general escape from an ordinary life which encompasses homework or projects.