Your guide to perfect University

While choosing ‘the’ university to pursue higher education, each of us invest a lot of time and money. Those who invest a lot of time in doing their fair bit of research often succeed. Although, many European universities have made the application process considerably easy, however, forthcoming undergraduates thinking about studying abroad will still need to consider a lot of factors before boarding their flight. Overseas education experts conclude that the success of your higher education degree is directly proportional to the amount of time spent in researching the college. It will determine whether your time at the university will be one worth remembering or a discouraging damp squib.

Culture shock

Normally, most of you would start by scanning the internet for a course at a university you fancy going to. But should it be? However, it is advisable that before making any decisions, you should consider your personality type. Do you have the resilience to cope with the culture shock? Wherever you go, you are likely to be in the minority. Often, many of us end up choosing the country where we have friends, family, or personal links to help us deal with the culture shock. Though many students find the prospect of living in a new environment a major attraction, the effects of culture shock shouldn’t be taken too lightly. It is a psychological process that will affect you, so it’s best to understand it and be prepared for it; no matter how close or far away you live from home, culture shock can greatly affect your ability to successfully study in a new environment. Moreover, for your degree to help you in the longer term, your course should match your interests, career aspirations, and skills.

Start by categorising two or three best institutions in terms of international rankings for each country and topic of interest. Also, look to see if they have reasonable numbers of international students enrolled, which would be proof of university’s aptness at dealing with the international students. For those, for whom economical cost is a major factor should consider studying in a medium-sized town. Then language barrier is another factor to think about. Even if you have mastered the basics of the local language at school, you need to be ready for the shock of realising that however good you may be, many would fail to understand what you say.

Pick your course carefully

Taking advice from parents or a personal guide/tutor may help to refine your search criteria. For instance, studying in Europe, where the undergraduate courses taught in English are segregated from those which are not, is a good place to start. Many European universities have gone all out to recruit international students over the past few years. But it would be fatal for your career to assume that just because entry requirements are less stringent, you are in for an easy ride. International Universities work very differently, they have attendance requirements, small tutorial groups, and exams every eight weeks. From day one, students have to be involved in their own learning process. The biggest advantage, for me, of studying abroad is the fact that students there get more one-to-one time with tutors and professors, and regular interaction with their peers. Universities in Europe, for instance, are looking for diversity, who might want an international career in business, law, or in the health sciences, and for students who are inquisitive about the world.

In progressively competitive jobs market, students distinguish themselves through the educational choices they make. Studying abroad brings a significant number of opportunities like proximity to a host of international organisations, multinational corporations, and much more. Many universities run open days – you should go, if you can afford to. It’s important to be positive, practical, and committed to solving the pragmatic issues that may arise while studying abroad.

Accommodation

Accommodation is a common concern. Showing up at the start of course with a backpack and nowhere to live is not a great start to your career. Not all universities have halls, so as with everything else, groundwork is crucial. Another factor which plays a critical role is that finding somewhere to live won’t be as easy as at home, so making extra time for research is a good start. Sorting out banking issues may also prove to be a tricky situation. For instance, in some European countries, you can’t register without an address hence you will have to register with the council in order to get a bank account.


Despite all worries about digs, the application faff, and the initial banking issues, would I recommend to study abroad? The answer is a big YES! It makes you view the world differently, you grow up a lot, and ultimately it gives you an alternative outlook on life.

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A Flawed Study Abroad Policy

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If we compare the number of students choosing to study abroad as against in India, one would realize the increase has been alarming to say the least. Higher competition, too many entrance exams, scarcity of good teachers, and lack of facilities have been few of the many reasons prompting students to study abroad. And to be honest, an opportunity to study in state of the art colleges, under the guidance of Nobel Laureates is an opportunity too good to be missed, however, the colleges today are too focussed on just increasing the numbers. In reality what they need is to take good hard look at their policy and not just the fancy slogans and obsolete study programs. For instance, the programs offered in some of the Ivy League institutes are too expensive and non-justifiably so, as they do not help or encourage the students to obtain the multi-ethnic skills necessary for a successful career across a broader range of fields.

Many live in the illusion that studying in Ivy League colleges is the only way they can enhance their careers and gain international experience which is essential to work in today’s cut throat marketplace. Students in awe of such fancy colleges refuse to look at the larger picture that every “study abroad program” does not boost their career. Though, to meet the growing demand for international experience, colleges highlight their fancy programs and show commitment towards “global education”, however, the key question is how global they actually are? Far too many “global centres of education” associate global education with their study abroad programs; for instance, a few of them have even opened their study abroad offices in countries like India, Brazil, and the Middle-East. Even though studying abroad is a vital element of “global education”, however, global education comprehends much more.

It is not to say that study abroad programs should be chucked off, on the contrary time spent studying abroad is beneficial for a student for more than one reason, but the impact of such programs in improving the depth of their abilities is a different question altogether and needs to be talked about. Study conducted in the past decade, shows that far too many apprentices who go abroad aren’t learning and evolving in ways that were common as recently as few years ago.

Lack of Cultural Orientation Programmes

One of the deficits of studying abroad these days is the absence of engagement between professors and students; both before students go abroad, and after they return. What many forget is that, this process of interaction between a teacher and a student is just as crucial to cross-cultural learning as the overall experience of living in a new culture itself. Although orientation programmes (which also include: suggesting websites to visit, and recommendations like country-specific information) induced at the start go a long way in preparing the students, however, this is not nearly enough to prepare students. Research conducted over the years indicated that only a fraction of students were provided with any cross-cultural training before they were inducted into various programmes. And only a handful are offered travel guides with cultural information specific to the country or region to which a student would be traveling. These facts are troubling, to say the least. The truth is, when a prospective student goes abroad, he/she lands not only in a new country but also another culture altogether; different attitudes, behaviours, beliefs, and values shared by a society. If students are unaware about the culture, their ability to be able to respond will also hamper their ability to communicate. Therefore, all study-abroad programs should command cross-cultural preparation, training, and reintegration programs, which many don’t. In an effort to determine why not, I looked in to various colleges and institutes and not surprisingly came out with the reason – cost! The programs are already too expensive and to add to the already searing costs the expenses of inducing training programs, modulation sessions, and comprehensive study modules will put off many students from their accessibility maps.

The vast majority of students rue the inefficiency of colleges to make them accustomed to new culture and living conditions, which ultimately hampers their overall performance. Most students feel disorganised because of lack of interaction with local people. Furthermore, students reported lack of support and even greater difficulties upon returning home. They felt less comfortable in reintegrating with the culture and traditions of same old culture, and sometimes the differences are too much for them to deal with. Many are clueless about ways of leveraging their experiences gained abroad which eventually hampers their future growth in their respective careers, whether academically or professionally. Also, students felt isolated and alone because of lack of interaction with friends and family. While most students seemed to mix-up, writing up the active change to part of the learning curve, it doesn’t have to be that way.


For students, college is a place which prepares them for the workplace that awaits them after graduation, and the study-abroad experience is an important component of that preparation. Instead of treating it as a one-off adventure, colleges must integrate study abroad into a broader global-education curriculum to truly help their students become global citizens.

University is one big popularity contest

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The initial few months at university can be giddily fun and honestly it is the time to which everyone looks forward to. Late nights, silly adventures, and throwing yourself into things you care about – this is all that matters. But beside the great stuff, many students can find themselves entangled in the kind of status games they thought they’d left behind in high school. Who is considered cool? Am I well-known? And who is part of the ‘in-crowd’? These can be some very relentless and exhausting questions. Many don’t give a damn what anyone thinks and the only pressure that students suffer from is the urge to look fabulous as often as they can. Especially at the beginning, others find the whole thing a struggle, when everyone is reinventing their personalities and building friendships. First impressions are everything and people judge you for your looks and that intensifies anxieties about being accepted or well-liked. Some students pick out the parts of their life and exaggerate them slightly to look cool and so as to make themselves interesting for others. In their pursuit of becoming something different students try newer avenues and look for changes in their personalities. There’s a stereotype, particularly with art students, to dress and act in certain ways. It makes them stand apart from other students and helps them find themselves a new identity. The markers that place you as part of a group – outfits, behaviour, who you hang out with, and where you go – carry added significance with them.

For others, status is about who you know. To become ‘popular’ and different, many seek the company of renowned names and personalities so as to attract the attention of others. For instance, few students might end up with DJs of some clubs in order to provide free entries, cheap drinks, and access to semi-famous DJs of night clubs. This will be their path to fame and glory. Knowing where the next party is may have given them a sense of achievement. But, those who regard themselves as high status give themselves a free pass to act foolishly. Whether your status at university is connected to appearance, academic success, or friendship with popular people will depend on where you are and your particular social group. Some focus on partying, others admire the big figures in student journalism, or theatre. Social class can play a part in your status, too. The rich poor divide is one thing which is prevalent in most colleges and has a great influence on psyche of many. However, students do forget the fact that they might click with a lot of people, but ultimately they can’t hang out with them all at once because their personalities will be different from each other.

Disposable income obviously affects the experiences, creative endeavours, and nights out you can afford. During college, there’s an element of networking, too – university is the time to make contacts that will have a long and fruitful association and will pay off once you’ve graduated. Moreover, some hard-nosed students only bother to befriend those they think might be useful in future. Those who are more open to interacting with new people, operate within most circles, and create a unique identity for themselves will ultimately form a strong network. However, this doesn’t relate necessarily to being ‘high school cool’ or guarantee you popularity in college. At college, it is the gift of your charm, what you have to say and what you produce, that gets people interested. Willingness to enter discussions, get involved with initiatives, openness to interacting with new people, go out dancing, make things, meet people, network, hard work, and wearing some good outfits, are all the self-motivating things to do. The key though is to enjoy the most of your college years, as it is a once in a life time opportunity.

Hate your college course?

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Thoughts like: “I should have switched after the first week, but didn’t” or “I was young and my university choices weren’t as well thought out as they should have been” or “I hate my college course”, are quite common amongst many students struggling through the mid-course period. Halfway through a course at the college and the thought of being pigeonholed by the degree subject for the rest of one’s life fills a person with fear and hopelessness. Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s often impossible to know whether you will like or not like the course that you have subscribed to. If you are finding it hard midway through the course period, the key is not to keep feelings like these to oneself but to share it with family or friends. A possible explanation for many students hating their course might be the pressure to go to university straight after they finish school, at a time when many are still clueless about their careers.

Often, students lose interest and motivation to continue, after going through the initial thrills of their course and on the contrary, their focus is more on the bits they don’t like about the course. However, such feelings are temporary most of the time and it would seem immature and fussy to not do a course just because it wasn’t perfect. It is absolutely normal to motivate oneself when one is running behind deadlines or if the pressure intensifies. The trick lies in looking for positivity in your course and to find that one thing that actually motivates you. Many students, under constant family pressure, are compelled to make certain career choices and the side-effects of such choices show after a period, with students losing interest or in worst case scenarios many often end up suffering from depression.

Students, time and again pick courses without giving a considerable thought to the course they actually want to study and what their interests are. In recent years, because of bad career choices, many students have ended up with job profiles categorically different from what they studied in college; ultimately leading to an unwarrantable situation. Experts believe that speaking to a range of professionals within the university can also help the students to deal with mid-course blues and help the students. For instance, talking to your tutor, can help in dealing with the elements of the course that you dislike and the reasoning behind this. Many continuing education programs only require a bachelors to enter and at this point, one could re-evaluate what their options are and see if they want to continue schooling in a different direction.

How not to hate your college course

Always remember that just because you don’t like your course now, doesn’t mean you will always feel the same. Look out for future modules to see if it’s worth enduring the classes and chances are you might luckily get a course on lines of your interest. Academic achievement at university is important but this is also likely to be the single time you’ll have innumerable different groups and events within easy reach. Taking advantage of these events and activities will improve your college experience and help you to deal with mid-course blues. It doesn’t upset that it looks good to companies either.

Dropping out should be the last alternative and before reaching that stage, there are ample opportunities to save your college degree.

You can apply for an ‘authorised’ interruption of studies, where the clock effectively stops on their time at the university. This gives an opportunity to students to pause their studies for rest of the year while applying for a course transfer in the next academic year. Although not everyone who applies for an interruption is granted one, however, if given a valid reason, you may succeed in getting permission. But even if you end up with a degree in an area you don’t like and to study further (higher education) is not an option, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck; the key is to keep looking for positive and motivating factors. Don’t worry that doing a course you don’t enjoy will mean your career prospects will be limited to areas that don’t interest you.

Top Universities in the Netherlands

Top Universities in the Netherlands

Netherlands is easily one of the most liberal and beautiful countries to study in. Their tolerance towards other races and religions is extremely high and their living there is considerably cheaper than living in some of the other European countries. So, here’s a list of some of the top universities in the Netherlands:

University of Amsterdam

Everyone’s heard of Amsterdam and how great it is to vacation and party there however, little has been said on an international level about the college life. The University of Amsterdam appeared on number 62 on the QS World University Rankings for 2012/13 and has an extremely strong international program. The University offers comprehensive courses in subjects like humanities, social and behavioral sciences, law, economics and business, medicine, dentistry and science. It is one of the top universities in the Netherlands.

Leiden University

Leiden University also appeared on the QS World University Rankings for 2012/13 at number 75. This University dates back to 1575 and is one of the most reputed places to study. They believe strongly in the freedom of thought and expression so if you’re the kind of person who loves voicing opinions and thinking for yourself, this just might be the right place for you. They offer courses in various subjects like Archaeology, Campus the Hague, Humanities, Law, Medicine, Science and Social Sciences with over 50 Bachelors courses and 60 master’s programs.

Utrecht University

Utrecht University was ranked at number 85 on the QS World University Rankings for top universities in the Netherlands 2012/13. Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is considered one of Europe’s leading universities. The fact that they teach students in small groups in order to facilitate concentrated learning and teaching really sets them apart from other universities. They offer various courses in fields of study like Geosciences, Science, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Law, Economics and Governance, Veterinary Medicine and Medicine.