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How to Study Abroad with a Scholarship: Step-by-step guide for International Students

Nov 4, 2022
3 mins read

Disclaimer: This guide is created by Veronica, co-founder of Borderless. I am not a college counselor, this information is based on my personal experience of studying abroad and working with students. The guide will be continuously updated with input from Borderless’s community members!

There are many ways to go abroad: exchange programs, language courses, internships, volunteering, etc. The one we will focus on in this guide is getting a degree (Bachelor, Master, PhD) abroad.

Step 1: Define your goal

Before you start your study abroad journey, it’s very important to have a conversation with yourself and set your goals - Why do you want to go abroad?

Is it to study a field that’s not available in your country? Start a company? Immigrate? Or do you simply want to try living somewhere else? There are no “right” and “wrong” goals, the only mistake is not having any. If your goal is to one day to start a company in Silicon Valley, you should probably apply to US universities with strong entrepreneurship programs, but if your goal is to immigrate - you could look into much more affordable and less selective universities in Canada.

Make sure that the goal is your own, and not the one set by your teaches, or your parents.

Step 2: Shortlist universities

Remember that university is much more than just a degree: it’s your home, your friends, and your potential employers. When you look for universities, evaluate them against the following criteria:

🎓 Academic Fit: Does the university offer the major you are interested in?

💰 Financial Need: Does it provide financial assistance (if you need one)?

🥳 Student Life: Can you imagine yourself living there for up to 4 years?

👔 Career Development: Do the career paths of alumni inspire and excite you?

💯 Admission Chances: Do you have a chance of getting in based on your academic performance?

Resources that help you research universities are the university’s website, Borderless, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, etc - go deep down that hole: read everything you can possibly find.

Once you’ve explored your options, it’s time to shortlist 10-15 universities you will be applying to. Follow this guide to build a balanced College List to make sure that every application you send counts.

Step 3: Explore funding options

As an international student, you have a few options to finance your degree: financial aid, scholarships, student loans, graduate assistantships, fellowships. But before you start looking for funding, talk to your parents and understand your financial situation: How much money does your family have for your education? Do you need only tuition covered, or living expenses as well?.

To dive deeper into each category of funding, check this guide and list of top 30 scholarships for international students.

Step 4: Take tests

Most universities in the world require international students to take the following tests:

Language Tests:

  • English: TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo

  • German: TestDaF, DSH

  • Korean: TOPIK

  • Japanese: JLPT

  • Spanish: DELE

Standardized Tests:

  • Bachelor: SAT, ACT

  • Master: GRE, GMAT

Step 5: Prepare application documents

It’s now time to prepare application documents! The exact list of documents will vary based on country/universities, but here is a standard set:

📃 Application form (commonapp, UCAS)

💯 Transcripts + Predicted grades

✍️ Personal Statement (essay for US universities)

✍️ Motivation Letter & Supplemental essays

⭐️ Recommendation Letters

🏀 Resume & Extracurricular activities

The exact list of application documents is always stated on each university’s website.

Step 6: Apply by the deadline

Every university has its own (very hard!) deadline, by which you have to submit all documents. In most countries you can do so online, but in rare cases, you might need to mail them, so make sure to account for shipping times.

That’s it! You are ready now ready to go abroad✈️

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