Where do I start ?
RESEARCH THE COUNTRY: The last thing a student wants to do is to travel to a country where the atmosphere is tense and foreigners(including students) are not welcome. So take your time to study the country by listening to the news, using the internet etc. Also try and see if there are people who have studied there before and do get their opinion.
RESEARCH YOUR SUBJECT AREA AND FIND OUT WHICH COUNTRY DOES IT BETTER : Although most universities offer every imaginable course. There are variance in the quality of education and also the quality of the courses in each country. The aspiring student and their relatives should spend time to study each country’s reputation in terms of the quality of education. The search should go further to find information for a number of universities of interest. Check for example the university’s overall ranking and its ranking in your subject area. In the UK the Time’s university league table or information from Unistats are good examples.
CHECK THE ADMISSION PERIOD FOR YOUR CHOSEN COURSE: As obvious as this might seem, I have seen and heard stories of students who (for all intends and purposes) desire to study at an institution but have left their application till the last minute and in some cases they have applied way after the deadline had passed. My advice is that once you have decided on a number of institutions, try and write out their names, application procedures and deadlines on a paper and paste it to a place where you will see these very often. Also keep an eye on the institution’s website (the overseas students section in particular) for any new information that might might apply to/ affect overseas students.
IMMIGRATION ISSUES: This is often a quagmire/ hot potato. It is often possible to secure admission at an overseas institution and be refused an entry visa as a student. The student should research very well the immigration policy of a country in particular issues relating to students visa. This point is often left till the last minute and have led to frustrations and heartaches. Make sure that you apply for your visa as early as possible once you have received the necessary documents from the overseas institution.
PLAN YOUR FLIGHT: Assuming that the visa has been obtained, the next task is to plan your travel. This includes your flight and your travel from the airport to the university. Very often the university might be in another town from your point of arrival i.e. from the airport where you arrived. So your travel plans should also include the journey from the airport to the university.
RESEARCH THE TOWN WHERE YOU ARE GOING: Ok, the visa had been obtained and the journey planned, what next? Your plan will not be complete if you did not take time to research the town where you are going. Take time to find out about the city, the people and culture. See if there are organisations for students from your country at the university where you are going. There are usually many associations for students from various countries so try and contact them prior to traveling.
Dr Kevin C.U. has a site and blog dedicated solely to students issues at http://www.neutralsearch.com