Finding a University Abroad: First Steps | Top Universities
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Finding a University Abroad: First Steps

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Updated Mar 05, 2016
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If you've decided you want to study abroad but haven't really got further than that, read our guide to making those all-important first steps.

1. You’re an individual

There is no one size that fits all when it comes to university, so it’s important you consider your own priorities, interests and abilities first.

What are your reasons for studying abroad? What are your priorities in a university? What languages are you comfortable in and what are your longer-term study or professional objectives?

Are there any academic or cultural considerations more important to you? Have you got strong extra-curricular interests? What kind of lifestyle do you want?

And of course, how are you going to finance your studies? Do you need to search for a more affordable study destination, or find a university which offers financial assistance?

2. Research

Armed with a vision of what you are aiming for, you need to set about researching countries, universities and courses on offer. There's no single list of all the thousands of universities in the world, but there are a few places you can start - including international and regional rankings. If you know what subject you want to study, the QS World University Rankings by Subject may also be useful.

3. Which country?

Fundamental to studying abroad must be the desire to spend time in another country. If you can shortlist or identify your country, then you have a starting point for identifying possible universities to apply to.

Once you have selected a list of countries, you can identify some of the national organizations, such as UCAS in the UK, who can point you in the right direction for providers of scholarships and further information to refine your search.

4. Face-to-face

When searching worldwide for a university that is right for you, there is no substitute for coming face-to-face with people from that university. Clearly it will often not be feasible to actually visit the university before applying. However, each university has an alumni association, often with an international network, so try to identify alumni who may be willing and able to meet you closer to home and give you that all-important feel of what it’s like to actually study at their university.

The QS World University Tour and World Grad School Tour also provide opportunities to meet a broad selection of university representatives from around the world, in a location close to you.

5. Open mind

Finally, essential to finding the university and course which are right for you is to keep an open mind. Identify your priorities, research your options and talk to people - but always stay open to new suggestions, just in case there's something you missed. You are about to embark on one of the most exciting and important experiences of your life. Let the search begin!

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