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How To Decide if You Should Study Abroad

Studying abroad isn’t for everyone. Before you decide whether you want to study abroad, learn more about the various implications and costs.

Studying abroad can provide a worthwhile educational experience in addition to broadening your horizons and enriching your life. However, completing a study-abroad program isn’t for everyone. Before you decide to study abroad, take a step back and consider the various implications and costs.

Here’s how to decide if you should study abroad.

How to decide if you should study abroad

There are a number of factors to consider before you take the plunge to study abroad. Here are some of the things to consider before moving forward with the decision.

How will I benefit from studying abroad?

First of all, ask yourself how you can benefit from studying abroad. There are several considerations, including the following:

  • Personal goals: Perhaps you want to live in another country and experience another culture. When you study abroad, you can do so.
  • Educational goals: If there’s a program at an international university that you’re interested in, studying abroad can help you access it. Additionally, you might be able to access high-quality educational experiences that you would otherwise miss.
  • Professional goals: Depending on your chosen career and course of study, you might be able to use a study-abroad program to improve your resume and increase your chances of a certain job. That is especially true if you become fluent in another language as part of your study-abroad experience.

Think carefully about how participating in a study-abroad program can help you move forward. In general, learning about others and experiencing a different perspective is beneficial in the long run. Think about whether the schools and programs match your interests and preferences and whether you can improve your educational opportunities and professional opportunities. 

Can I afford to study abroad?

Next, it’s important to consider how you will pay for the study-abroad experience. In addition to paying tuition, you will have travel and lodging costs. 

There are ways to pay for your study-abroad experience, however, including the following:

  • Scholarships: There are scholarships designed for those who want to study abroad. Additionally, depending on the scholarships you receive, you might be able to use regular school scholarships as a way to cover your study-abroad costs.
  • Federal financial aid: As long as your program includes an eligible school, you can use federal grants and student loans for study-abroad costs. Check the list of eligible schools to determine whether your chosen institution qualifies.
  • Personal savings: You can also save money from a job or other source to pay for your study-abroad program. If you attend an eligible school, you can use money from a 529 plan for qualified education expenses. 
  • Private student loans: It’s also possible to use private student loans to pay for your study-abroad program. Organizations such as Juno help you find the best deal on private student loans with lower interest rates that can make your study-abroad experience more affordable and manageable. Check to see if the school is eligible for private student loans.

It’s important to have a plan to pay for your study-abroad program because you likely won’t be allowed to work if you go to another country on a student visa. As a result, you might need to plan for a year or more before you head to another country for a study-abroad program.

Do you know the rules for study-abroad programs in your desired country?

If you go through your current educational institution for a study-abroad program, it can probably help you with all the things you need to do to prepare for studying abroad. It can usually help you with living arrangements and school registration. Additionally, it can help you with the appropriate visas.

However, if you are planning to study abroad on your own, you need to understand the requirements of the country of your choice. You need to understand what visas are required, how long you’ll be allowed to stay and the types of activities you can engage in. Depending on the country, you might not be able to work if you arrive on a student visa. Also, you might need to get your visa extended if you decide you want to stay longer than your initial visa allows.

Before you leave the country, make sure you have the required vaccinations, understand the laws and have an idea of what will be expected of you before you go.

Are you ready to go to another country?

Studying abroad seems like a glamorous way to spend a semester (or more), but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to go to another country. Reflect on whether you’re ready to learn about a new culture and be so far away from home. Think about how you might navigate a different country. You can research to find a city and country you’re likely to have a good start in, but, in the end, you need to be ready to move out of your comfort zone.

In some cases, it can make sense to wait a semester or year before you head to another country. Carefully consider your goals, budget and options and make a decision that works for you and that is most likely to help you succeed in the long run.

Bottom line

As you decide whether you should study abroad, carefully consider the benefits, the drawbacks and how you will handle the situation. Also determine whether you can go through your current school or whether you will use another program. That can help you figure out what you need to be successful as you study abroad, whether you’re doing it for personal, educational or professional reasons.

Miranda Marquit

Written By

Miranda Marquit

Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University


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