An important question that crosses most students’ mind is when they need to begin the application process. This depends on when you wish to fly abroad. Typically, the process begins 10 to 12 months before you begin your studies abroad. Below, we have listed rough timelines that you can follow:
To ensure that you get into a great university and program, start at least 10-12 months before you plan to fly abroad. At this point, you should shortlist programs based on your career goals and academic interests. Then identify universities that offer the programs you are interested in. Don’t solely judge a university by its rank – also check the cost and how it aligns with your preferences with regards to courses offered, networking opportunities, class size and location.
After identifying universities and programs to apply to, you will get a general idea about the admission requirements. Typically, universities require students to take an English Language test like the TOEFL or IELTS. Some universities also require students to take a standardized test like the GMAT, GRE, LSAT or MCAT. The score you need in the English language test and the standardized test to stand a chance of admission to a university will be mentioned on it’s website. It usually takes 2-3 months for students to prepare for these tests. It’s good to take these tests 9-10 months before you plan to fly as this also leaves you with enough time if you need to retake any test.
This is the most time consuming of all steps. Universities generally require students to submit a statement of purpose, letters of recommendations and their academic transcripts. You might be required to submit additional documents like a Resume or a portfolio of work for certain programs and universities. You also need to plan your finances and universities will also need you to show proof of finances. Writing and gathering all these documents can take anywhere between 1-3 months and will require multiple drafts before they are ready to be uploaded to the university application portal.
If you’ve done everything right so far, it is likely that you will end up with offers from multiple universities. Generally universities give students a month to confirm their enrolment. You will also be required to pay a deposit amount to the university to accept the offer. Because you have only one shot to make this decision and because it costs money to confirm admission, you’ll need to think carefully about this. The top factors to consider while making this are (1) The quality of the university and program, (2) How well aligned it is to you your career goals and (3)The return on investment.
Countries usually allow students to apply for student visas 90 days i.e. 3 months before the intended date of travel. To apply for a visa you’ll need a valid offer, proof of finances, academic transcripts and a covering letter. In addition to this, you might need to submit your biometrics and undergo a medical examination. A few countries (like the USA) also conduct a visa interview as a part of the application process.
With an admission offer and visa in hand, you’re set to fly – well almost! At this point, there are still a few things left. Around a month or two before you fly, find accommodation and make arrangements for your healthcare insurance. Book your flight tickets, get an international credit/debit card or a foreign exchange card and gather all documents that you will need when you fly. Around a week before flying, you should begin packing.