Navigating the Study Abroad Application Process: 5 Easy Steps

Carolina Jacobs

Jan 22, 2021

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Are you interested in studying in another country? If so, you’ll join nearly 350,000 other students who took educational courses abroad last year. You can experience unique benefits during your time overseas that help you as a person and professional. 

These opportunities can be a bit tricky to understand, so you should be prepared. Here’s a look at the ins and outs of the study abroad application process.

1. Find a Program

The first step should be to choose a program. There are a few ways to find an opportunity that suits your interests and pursuits. The one you pick will depend on what you want to study and how much time you have.

You can look at what your college offers. Your school likely has a “global engagement” office that facilities programs. Browse their website to see what’s available over the next few semesters. It’s also smart to make an appointment to chat with someone who knows the programs.

There are organizations that host programs, too. For example, the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) provides ways to take classes in cities worldwide. If you don’t like anything your university advertises, you should consider accredited programs from these institutions. You can also check out other local colleges to see what they offer.

Why do you want to study abroad? The answer to this question will help you as you browse programs. A smart idea is to find something that involves your major and interests. You also want to focus on opportunities you can complete on time. It’s not productive to study abroad when doing so forces you to be in school longer.

2. Consider Potential Costs

It’s helpful to think about prices before you apply, too. For some students, it’ll cost less or the same to study abroad than complete another semester at home. That affordability might be different for others who need scholarships and loans to afford school. 

If you estimate finances early, you make things easier for yourself later. Be sure to look at potential costs for every program that grabs your interest. You need to calculate tuition, flights, safe and affordable housing, transportation and food. There might be additional fees for visas and other documentation, too.

3. Start the Application Process

Congratulations! You’ve found a program. It’s now time to apply. The study abroad application process won’t be the same for everyone. Therefore, you should always consult the advisors associated with the program directly.

An application usually requires transcripts, recommendations and other materials. Be sure that you have everything in order beforehand. You might have to go through an interview process, as well. Don’t hesitate to ask questions so that you’re ready to complete the application early enough.

4. Complete Other Requirements

You need to think about other requirements, too. 

Is your passport in order? If not, you should take steps to renew an existing passport or get a new one. You’ll also need to look at visas. The one you need will depend on where you’re studying and for how long. The University of Washington has a great guide on visas you can reference if your school doesn’t provide specific information.

Getting this documentation takes time. In some cases, you may need to wait several months to hear back. That’s why keeping updated on deadlines is a must. If you get a late start, you’re going to experience hiccups before you leave the country. Keeping in touch with someone from your program will help.

5. Get Ready for Your Departure

The only thing left to do is prepare for your departure. It’s true that the study abroad application process can take a while, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t know immediately. But once you get approved, you can start getting ready.

These steps will be different for everyone. However, you need to:

  • Get a physical so that you know you’re healthy.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance.
  • Look for plane tickets.
  • Get familiar with your destination so you can create a routine when you arrive.
  • Set aside money for extra expenses like weekend trips.
  • Make sure your banks know you’re going abroad.

This time might feel both hectic and exciting. That’s for a good reason! Going abroad is an unforgettable experience. Still, you need to ensure you have your ducks in a row. Checking off these to-do list items will put you in the best position to succeed while you’re away from home.

Use These Tips to Navigate the Study Abroad Application Process

If you’re hesitant to apply to study abroad programs because of the application process, you should think again. It might seem tricky, but you can navigate everything with these tips. The time of your academic life is only an application away.

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