Written by Hussein Ahmed

Is studying abroad the right decision for you?

Hussein Ahmed is a New Yorker who spent his three years of high school in Egypt and is currently a resident student at Stony Brook University, USA.

Is traveling abroad for college right for you?
As teenagers, many of you are high school students who probably have to search and apply to university soon. There are many decent foreign universities and it is a good idea to keep traveling as an option. If you are a student thinking about applying to college abroad, there are some things you need to consider. If you are considering studying in a country in North America or Europe, it is important to realize that you will be studying in a place very different from Cairo.

If you are a person who can get homesick easily, traveling might probably not be the right decision for you. However, a solution to this could be to search for good colleges where there is a lot of diversity, including Egyptian or Arab communities. Also, if you desire to be a college student at a foreign university then you should have some level of tolerance to all types of backgrounds and cultures.

The big question you should be asking yourselves is this: How do I even begin to search for a university?
There are several ways, but the most important step is deciding your major. Although it is true some students don’t pick a major even after they have been admitted to a university, but choosing a major can allow you to search for colleges that have good departments and programs related to your major. Also, if you have a specific place in mind such as England, Italy, U.S. or Canada, you can search for colleges that are appropriate for your desired major by using the College Board website. Feel free to ask guidance counselors or people in your school who may know about good universities outside of Egypt.

After you have decided, or have made a list of potential universities you would like to attend, the next step is crucial: applying for financial aid.

 Why is this so important?
Let’s face it, due to the inflation and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, and the fact that you’ll be living abroad, you will need money for student visas and for expenses, so financial aid is definitely needed. The first step is to apply for the financial aid options they may have for international students for the specific colleges you chose. They should be available on the colleges’ websites.

Afterwards, if it is an American University, you can apply for the FAFSA or CSS Financial Aid Profile through the College Board site. Scholarships can be found on scholarshipportal.com for countries around the world including the U.S, Middle Eastern countries, Canada, Australia, and countries in Europe. However, it is important to remember that in countries outside of Egypt, anything is possible. You may be able to find many programs available that can help you and are specific for international students.

Many college institutions view different facets of an applicant, depending on the program, university, and major you are applying for. However, the most popular belief is that your academic performance in your high school career is the most relevant when determining admission. This seems to be the case especially for Egyptian universities, but with colleges abroad, many of them have other unique steps and procedures for selecting the best candidates besides looking at numbers. Many universities abroad do want a smart and hardworking student, but this is not all they are looking for. Universities want students that lead successful lives beyond the classroom. When applying to a university abroad, they may give you the option to add activities that you have done. You definitely should have some. Join a sports club or participate in a debate team. Show them that you have a large interest and passion for some of the hobbies you enjoy doing. Some colleges may ask for a personal statement or an application essay. This, you will need to practice many times. Make multiple drafts, ask teachers their opinion and write it over again as many times as possible. One tip for writing a good application essay is to show the university what you are passionate about without actually using the word passionate; you must show and describe the feeling of passion that you have.

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