Preparing to Study Abroad

I want to study abroad. Now what do I do and where do I start.

Your decision to study abroad must first of all begin with these three  question,

Q1: ‘Why and what do I want to study abroad?’

Q2: How do I find the university to apply to?

Q3: ‘Am I ready to go through the necessary and cumbersome process of applying abroad?’

Having definitive answers for the above questions is the beginning point to starting your search. Let Google be your best friend for then on.

Why and what do I want to study abroad?

Your answer to question one will help you narrow down your focus to a world region(s), country(s) and field(s) of study. There are several regions where you can apply to study for a bachelor’s/master’s/Ph.D.




North America



This question will also help you narrow down your focus to a field of study. Those searching for programs at the bachelor’s level need not be so worried as much as those pursuing graduate studies. In countries like the United States, students can be accepted into universities with undecided majors. However, if you are looking to pursue a master’s degree or a Phd, you ought to have a specific field in mind.

How do I find the university to apply to?

  1. Your best bet is to google, google and do some more googling. Start by generalizing your search and gradually start narrowing it down when you find leads.


General Search: Universities that offer Mechanical Engineering

Narrow Search: Universities that offer Mechanical Engineering in Korea

Specific Search: Mechanical Engineering in Yonsei University, Korea

General Search: Mechanical Engineering in U.S colleges

Specific Search: Top 10 Mechanical Engineering Colleges in the United States

  1. Another angle to approach your search is through scholarship websites. These websites are great resources for finding schools and programs which offer scholarships. Links to such useful resources are below:

The embassy websites become very useful in the case where scholarships in non-english speaking countries publicized.

  1. Another angle is through networking. Try to obtain information from your vast network of school alumni, friends and family and social networks. Someone somewhere is pursuing their education abroad and can offer you useful information or even help you with the the whole application process.

Am I ready to go through the necessary and at cumbersome process of applying abroad?

Those who want to pursue education must always have that resolve to go the extra mile in securing the necessary documentation and writing some required test if requested.

  1. Always plan a year ahead to finish. This way you can meet the application deadlines
  2. Check the university’s website for all application requirements. Make sure you submit the necessary documentation before the deadline

The necessary application documentation differs by school and by each world region you are applying to. However, there are some basic requirements that are common to all schools

  1. Lecturer/Professor Recommendation (the number of recommendations required may range between one to three)
  2. Statement of Purpose/Motivation Essay
  3. Resume
  4. Transcript(s)/Certificates
  5. Paper or Online Application

The following additional requirements may differ depending on the school, program, country or world region you are applying to

  1. Aptitude Tests (SAT, GRE, GMAT, SAT Subject Tests, GRE Subject Tests)
  2. English Language Proficiency test (TOEFL, IETLS)
  3. Writing sample
  4. Translated Documentation (for schools in non english speaking countries)
  5. Other (please check on the university’s websites for all required documentation that must accompany your application)

For those interested in applying to non-english speaking countries, please check if the program in question has classes offered in english. If not, please inquire from the department in question, if there are available language prerequisites and if there are opportunities for international students to build up on language before taking any serious classes. The good news is that it is very easy to communicate with foreign univeristies via e-mail or a quick call so don’t walk blind. Reach out and get the needed information.

Planning to get all these above required documents submitted before the application deadline, requires months of preparation. Therefore learn to prepare a timeline that works for you to help beat the application deadline.

Author: Elizabeth Agyeman-Budu; Cornell University(USA)



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