(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)
In the past few decades, Canada has emerged as one of the most sought-after destinations for higher studies. It provides students from around the world with an exciting opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture, broaden their horizons and receive a top-notch education. With its diverse landscapes, friendly people, and thriving cultural scene, Canada offers an ideal environment and ample exposure for students to grow individually, academically, and professionally. The huge Indian community and friendlier immigration laws make Canada especially attractive to Indian students. However, despite having so many positive attributes, it’s always daunting to move to a new place. Students need to carefully plan their travel and stay in Canada to have a hassle-free experience and to be able to concentrate their time and efforts on their education. In this article, we’ll provide tips and insights into the Canadian study-abroad journey.
Evaluating your Eligibility
The first step towards realising the dream of studying in Canada is evaluating whether the decision aligns with the student’s personal and familial goals. Typically, institutions in Canada extend offer letters to applicants who have demonstrated academic excellence, reflected through an average score of 70% or more, and proficient English language skills, as evidenced by a minimum score of 6 in the IELTS or other English proficiency tests across its categories. Additionally, it is crucial to consider the financial aspect and ensure that you have the means to cover the estimated annual expenses of Canadian Dollars (CAD) $15,000 to $25,000 tuition, and an additional $10,000 for living costs. If these requirements are feasible, it is advisable to invest time and effort in preparing and submitting the necessary school and visa applications.
One of the biggest and most common mistakes that we have come across while providing free assistance to students is the lack of research and shortlisting efforts on the student’s part. Advertisements, agents, social media, and other factors only add to the confusion and make students more stressful, sometimes forcing them to give up altogether. There is a lot of misinformation provided on the internet and through some agent networks. More often than not, agents work in their own best interests and make students apply to institutions where they earn the highest commission. It is advisable that students also take into consideration their constraints, whether financial or academic, before shortlisting the schools.
Students aspiring to pursue their education abroad must understand the end objective of obtaining a degree from a foreign institution, well before deciding where to apply. Building a list of schools and programs that match their career objectives can come in handy and can help avoid waste of effort, time, and thoughts. Below are some criteria to consider
● Post-grad work permit opportunities
● Distance from onshore family
● Size of school
● Student experience
● Programmes offered
Generally, students apply to 3-5 programmes that meet their study abroad criteria and where they meet the academic and English requirements.
Taking climate into account
A sub-point to consider while deciding where to apply, especially in Canada, is climate. With low temperatures, Canada offers a different climatic experience for international students. However, even in the cold climate, some places in Canada are warmer than others. The west coast is a little warmer but has a lot of rain. Central and east coasts, on the other hand, experience extremes of cold (lots of snow) and heat.
The visa application & arrival
The visa application process can be tricky. The biggest reason why many students get rejected is application errors. To avoid this, it's a good idea to work with a professional. Once you’ve received your visa, you need to set up banking and a phone plan, find a place to live, get insurance, and book travel. This is the last barrier to studying abroad but can be tiresome and time-consuming. It’s important to ask for help, especially when it comes to banking, insurance, and finding accommodation. It is also advisable that, during the application process, students set up their bank accounts in Canada.
If you have family or friends living in the region, you should let them know you’re coming. Not only can they provide you with knowledge of living in the country based on their experience but also be helpful when you first arrive. Lots of universities and colleges have Facebook, Discord, and WhatsApp communities - that’s a great way to get to know people before arriving on campus.
Canada is renowned for academic excellence and hospitality towards international students and it has lived up to its reputation. For a successful tenure in Canada as a student, careful planning is the key. Students must carefully think about all the aspects of their travel, study, and stay in Canada and make plans based on their situation. They should also not hesitate to avail the services of well-intentioned and experienced companies to ensure that their planning and preparation are impeccable.
The author is co-founder, and CEO, Halp, a digital study abroad coaching platform.
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