As a note from an International Education Advisor personally, I’d like to point out the fact that while these educational posts are geared towards Pakistani students, in many other regions, the same questions, concerns and concepts can be found and applied. While the statistics remain strictly Pakistani, the main points apply to most non-English speaking countries and/or students wishing to travel abroad for higher education.
With that said, when the decision has been made to head off to begin a life-changing and rewarding education in the U.S., students can be entirely overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that needs to be gotten in order and turned in, arrangements that need to be made, farewells that need to be said and the most overwhelming of all? All of the questions that run through students’ minds!
Aside from those endless mental checklists that are constantly running around and crashing into each other, more important questions need to be remembered and brought to the forefront so that each student is able to get the maximum amount of potential from this amazing college experience.
Having graduated from LUMS and just recently accepted into a university abroad, Hussain Nayani gives some insight to the most important and asked questions that International Student Office Representatives rate as the most helpful questions that any prospective international student can ask.
Ask About: Accreditation And Recognition Of Degrees
An important indicator of the quality of any U.S. college or university is its accreditation status.
Unlike many other countries, the United States does not have a central government office that approves educational institutions. Instead, it relies on a system of voluntary accreditations carried out by non-governmental accrediting bodies to ensure that every school meets the highest standards for every student’s best educational experience.
While almost all American colleges hold widely recognized forms of accreditation, accreditation in the United States is a complex area meaning that there are different types of accreditation and a large number of accrediting bodies. Also, there isn’t any specific legal requirement that degree-offering institutions be accredited or hold a particular form of accreditation.
Because this can sound a little confusing, students should check carefully whether a degree from the institutions he/she is applying to will be recognized by the government of Pakistan and any relevant professional associations, ministries, or employers in Pakistan.
What this can do for prospective international Pakistani students is help ease along the visa process when answering questions regarding future plans after graduation.
Since there isn’t an official network in Pakistan that helps students get in touch with alumni from abroad, the students should talk to their university’s International Student Office Representative for these types of contacts since they usually have contact details of willing alumni who want to help out.
Ask About: Majors Offered By Universities And Major selection
Major is the field of study in which a student plans to specialize. Something you’ll normally only find in American universities is that it’s not a ‘must’ to decide on a major in the freshman year! Most all American college students will change their majoring degree at some point so this is definitely not an uncommon practice.
Because this happens so often in U.S. colleges, international students should formulate a path for his/her future before beginning their application process to make sure that the school bears all interests students may have.
If the student is completely undecided about which direction that he/she wants to take or if they’re a free spirit who’d like to keep his/her options open, then perhaps the student would want to opt for a liberal arts style college which gives the liberty of choosing a major in the sophomore year.
As far as choosing a major goes, most subjects are taught at many universities while extremely specific or limited majors hold a slimmer selection of colleges. Knowing which subject the student wishes to major in may help but one could still be left with a long list of institutions from which to choose which could get overwhelming to narrow down.
To ease the burden, students can always get in touch with International Student Office University Representatives to help pick and choose the suitable college; or, if there is a particular specialization within a field that interests the student then the representative can help with identifying which schools offer that specialization will also help draw up a shortlist of institutions.
Ask About: Selection Criteria
Most university directories and college catalogs list the number of applicants and the number of students accepted the previous year, plus the average IELTS scores, GRE scores and TOEFL scores for the previous year’s accepted students. Remember, however, that admissions officers may look at a variety of factors, including essays, prizes, community service and work experience, hobbies, and special talents as they review applications to try to determine students’ potential for success at their institution.
The International Student Office Representative is the best person for students to go to for helping students assess the value that the admissions officers will attach to their non-academic achievements. This is essential because, if a student feels that he/she does not meet the high academic criterias for a university’s admission this doesn’t mean that they cannot get in at all – it’s very likely that the extracurricular achievements are enough to cover up for lower academics!
Think About: The End Result
Even though International Student Office Representatives are there to help guide students and point them in the right direction, it’s not the representative’s job to help students arrange for finances to attend the institution or to help him/her get an on campus job once the student has gained admission.
It’s the student’s life choices and hopes for a better future and part of getting there is to begin asking the tough questions, such as:
“How will I pay for the university?”
“Can’t you arrange for an on campus job for me once I get there?”
If you KNOW you’re going to have a rich and rewarding life, then there are ways to get there but you have to do the work yourself – it’s YOUR education, YOUR career and YOUR choice!
Students should take making university choices seriously, wisely and most importantly, utilize all of the resources that have been made available to them. In a country like Pakistan where student support networks for students wanting to go overseas for their education are virtually nonexistent, International Education Advisors and Representatives are a valuable resource to have around you. If they’re there strictly to help YOU, then why not take them up on their offer? This is a great resource to have available to you so go ahead and use it!