It’s that time of the year when acceptances roll in, especially for those applying to study abroad. But as the dust settles, the simple question of “What next” looms large. Here are some guidelines:
Accept your offer as soon as possible. It is always possible to withdraw from one college and accept another. But accepting allows you to move forward on accommodation and visa processes. Most countries have a May 1 deadline, so analyse your offers through March and April.
Maintain funds in your bank account that reflect your ability to pay the fees and living expenses for a year. You need to submit a financial statement to receive initial visa documentation from them.
Connect with others who plan to attend the same university. Having that support makes it easier to plan and adjust there.
Prepare for the visa interview. The questions will be about reasons for studying abroad, work plans, accommodation, your financial circumstances and financing your studies.
I-20: This crucial document proves that you are legally enrolled in a programme of study in the U.S. Once you get your acceptance letter, you need to give a deposit to your chosen university typically by May 1. The I-20 takes around two weeks, so plan ahead
Accommodation: Many universities have a mandatory policy that first-year students should live on campus. The housing department typically sends paperwork and a questionnaire asking about your lifestyle and interests. Book your accommodation as soon as you decide on the university. Sign up for a meal plan in the first year. Others can use off-campus housing websites but start this process as soon as possible.
DS-160: Complete and submit this form online before your interview at the consulate. The barcode number on the confirmation page is required to book your interview. Then pay the SEVIS fees, book your slot, collect your documents, and go for the interview.
Housing: Book by March 31 (or even earlier), particularly for Vancouver and Toronto schools, where housing gets filled up fast.
Acceptance: Pay your acceptance deposit to your chosen university by May 1 or June 1. Students going to Quebec must also obtain a “Certificate of Acceptance” of Quebec (CAQ) from that province
Pre-application Medical Exam: You may need to do a medical exam before applying for the study permit. Visit a panel physician in India.
Study Permit: Apply for this as soon as you accept your offer. You will need to show proof of your funds for fees and living expenses.
Transcript: Send final transcripts to your chosen university
After receiving reverts from the universities, choose a firm and insurance university on your UCAS portal. Most U.K. offers are conditional, so the visa process can begin only after you receive a confirmed offer. Send your final scores to your firm and insurance choices and receive a confirmed offer. If you are unable to meet the conditions, either appeal to the university to consider your final scores or start looking for other universities in the “Clearing” round
Confirmation of Acceptance: Once the confirmed offer is received, request a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) interview. First, you will have to take the “pre-CAS interview.” If this is successful, a CAS draft will be sent to the university and you will be granted a CAS letter, which will have a CAS number that confirms your unconditional offer and your acceptance. You will need a CAS number to apply for a visa.
Visa process: As part of the application, you have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Once the online application is completed and documents submitted, pay the fee and an interview will be scheduled. This is the final stage of the application process.
Accommodation in the U.K.: Start looking for accommodation as soon as you have accepted your offer. Many universities offer on-campus accommodation for international students, for a separate charge. Else look for off-campus accommodation with the help of the housing department and/ or by connecting with other students.
Finally, learn to cook, as many students get bored of college food fast. Learning to balance good food with exercise and study habits is critical to student success!
With inputs from Kritika Malhotra
The writer is Founder and CEO, Inomi Learning, a Gurugram-based career and college guidance firm. firstname.lastname@example.org