Written by Olatunji O. O.
Education is the key to success in everything one sets out to do in life.Therefore, education is a must to become who you aspire to be and no amount of money spent on knowledge acquisition is too much. If the above statements hold sway, then studying abroad is worth embarking on.
I have the greatest pleasure of sharing my study abroad journey and experience with students having the mind of pursuing their educational career overseas.
WHAT INFORMED MY DECISION TO STUDY ABROAD?
What inspired me to embark on a study abroad journey is the self-desire to become more knowledgeable, productive, relevant, recognized and dynamic in my chosen career. The desire to get to the peak of my career by becoming an experienced financial and administrative executive of a world-class reputation is the nucleus of my study abroad decision.
The overseas countries are developed with their universities having sophisticated instructional and technological resources in all fields of study.
In the overseas institutions of higher learning there are committed instructors of a world-class rating that are part of a global network. I too want to belong to such an international professional network. This partly informed my decision to study abroad.
WHO MENTORED ME IN MY STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY?
There was actually nobody that was aware of my decision making on whether to embark on the study abroad program. However, some members of my family–my senior brother and my junior sister in the UK–have been of great financial support.
HOW WAS THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
An application to any overseas university is now mainly online, this has made the application filing very easy and submission of documents less tasking. I created my profile on university websites and did my application filing and submission.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED?
I did not encounter any serious problem in filing my online application, except for the slight delay in getting my transcript sent directly from my school to the admission office.
The second problem I had was the issue of payment of application fees in dollars to the school. The central bank in my country has barred the commercial banks from making payments in foreign currency to overseas countries.
HOW WERE THE ABOVE PROBLEMS SOLVED?
On the issue of transcripts, I would like to advise that every student wanting to get an overseas admission should ensure that their transcripts are ready and the unofficial copy is available for upload during application filing and submission. This will enable the applicant to upload a copy of the application, while the hard copy will be sent by the institution directly to the school.
As regards the application fee payment, I was made to pay heavy transfer charges. I made payment of some of the application fees through international fund transfer agents that are charging a very high rate and was able to get fee waivers for some schools.
HOW ABOUT THE ADMISSION PROCESS?
After submitting my online application, I was made to do an online admission interview, wherein I was interviewed on Zoom. This was where my English language listening skill and my speaking fluency was confirmed. The interview was a one-on-one type, not a group type.
The admission committee reviewed my application within two months as their admission system is on a rolling basis (i.e. applications are reviewed as they come in and it is done within a specified period of two months, provided all application documents are complete). I received my offer of admission and was asked to pay a deposit to reserve my slot. I received my acceptance letter with my Form I-20 after submitting my financial documents. The next level is my visa application which I made with documents serving as proof of funds availability and the form I-20.
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
(1) PROGRAM AND UNIVERSITY SEARCH
The stressful and strenuous web search to find my desired program and university is the first to be mentioned at this point. I have sleepless nights searching here and there on the internet and school websites.
(2) THE SOURCING OF FUNDS REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION & ADMISSION PROCESSES
The sourcing of funds required for the application and admission process gave me a tough time. I actually sold some valuables to realize cash to add to the little fund raised by my family to assist me. No education loan provider was ready to finance my preliminary expenses like application fee, passport fee, transcript requisition fee, tuition deposit, Sevis fee and flight ticket. I raised all this money in a hard way and this caused a lot of delay in my admission processing. Students just have to find a way of raising funds to finance all these expenses to show their commitment towards their study abroad goal, before any lender will be thrilled to fund the study program.
(3) GETTING A SUITABLE VISA APPOINTMENT
In the US Consulate, Lagos, the unavailability of a suitable F-1 Visa interview appointment date to enable me obtain an entry visa before September, 2022 (program commencement date) posed a very serious challenge.
(4) PAYMENT OF SEVIS FEE
I did experience a very difficult time and delay in payment of my Sevis fee owing to the regulatory activities of the Central BanK of Nigeria on the commercial banks. The commercial banks were barred from making payment of foreign currencies to a foreign accounts
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU CURRENTLY FACING?
(1) LONG, DELAYED AND INADEQUATE VISA APPOINTMENT
It is highly unfortunate that I have to wait till the year 2023 for my Visa interview to enable me to get an F-1 Visa for the commencement of my study program. This scheduled appointment date is nine months after the start date of my program.
(2) STUDY PROGRAM DEFERRAL
Owing to the inadequacy of my visa appointment, I have to unavoidably defer my study program commencement till 2023 to enable me to get a suitable F-1 Visa appointment that will meet my program commencement requirements.
(3) THE NEED FOR FRESH/UPDATED DOCUMENTS
There is the need to get many of my visa application documents updated and/or freshly sourced in view of the fact that the program commencement and completion dates on my Form I-20 have been invalidated by the deferral of study program. The US Visa Officer will want to have the visa approved based on accurate and correct information.
(4) INCREASE IN TUITION AND FEES
Every nation’s economy is facing serious challenges owing to periodic inflation. Universities usually publish in their websites that the tuition fee should be expected to increase by a certain percentage every year. Consequently, I must be prepared to pay an increased tuition fee on the new (2023) resumption date.
(5) FRESH APPLICATION FOR EDUCATION LOAN
There is the compulsory need to file a fresh application for a private education loan for the funding of my program in the 2023 academic session. This is owing to the fact that the former loan period has expired according to the loan agreement terms.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT WOULD HAVE MADE MY LIFE EASIER WHEN LOOKING FOR UNIVERSITIES AND THEREAFTER?
(1) UNIVERSITIES SEARCH ENGINE
The availability of a specially designed database (providing search engines and links) for a web search of the available programs would have been of help.
(2) UNIVERSITY AND PROGRAM COMPARISON ENGINES
The availability of a filtration engine that will enable students to extract information from the above database based on set criteria and be able compare and contrast the available options in university and program choice making.
(3) ONLINE STUDENT DISCUSSION FORUM
The presence of a forum for student interaction, chats and discussions and knowledge sharing would ease off the stress of having to do all the searching and decision making alone. This forum would also have enabled students with great wealth of experience to study abroad, help their fellow students. Issues such as making a choice of program of study, online application filing, admission processing and private education loan processing would have become an easy task.
(4) ONLINE MENTORSHIP TRAINING & PROGRAMS
The presence of a body to provide a sort of Professional Mentorship training program wherein students desiring to study abroad can create a profile, ask questions and request for guidance and counsel on study abroad programs, would have been a blessing to me. Additionally, this would have been of an immense assistance in the areas of:
- Choice of study program and university to attend
- Choice of career path
- Application filing and other admission processes
- Training and seminars on online application filing, preparation of the required application documents and materials
- Admission processes and in meeting the requirements of the registration of students after offer is secured and so on
- The provision of guidance on work-study and job prospects post graduation.
(5) AN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION LOAN PROVIDER
International students (especially those in Africa) need a very huge amount of money to finance a study abroad program. Therefore, the availability of a low interest rate private education loan to meet the students’ program financing needs will continue to be a plus to the efforts of such students. A no-cosigner loan should be made available to international students that want to study abroad, in view of the fact that most international students don’t have any relatives in the US to guarantee the finance of their study program. There are few lenders presently lending to international students on a no- cosigner basis but with a high interest rate.
CONCLUSIVE ADVICE TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS PLANING TO EMBARK ON A STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY
International students planning to embark on a study abroad journey should of necessity plan ahead. They should subscribe and join the 8B Education Investments’ Community where they will have full access to all the required online facilities to help them embark on a successful and seamless study abroad journey. 8B website has all that is needed for a study abroad journey – right form application filing to post-graduation job securement.
The 8B website has all the topics of interest and excellent guidance is available from the 8B Mentorship program. Even funding which is the greatest problem in study abroad is expressly available on the 8B website. The website is a complete home of study abroad and an unprecedented one. International Student, why wait to join the 8B Community? Join with this link today!
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