Applying for University Abroad? Here’s How to do it Right

by Published

You know what’s better than study abroad? Attending universities abroad all four years instead! Trust us when we say: if you think studying abroad for a summer or semester would change your life, imagine how incredible it would be to spend your entire college career in another country!

As a full-time student in a university abroad, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to not only receive a top-notch education, but also push yourself outside of your comfort zone and expand your worldview. Learning will take place both inside and outside of the classroom! But before you embark on years of exploration, adventure, and a nifty international degree...you have to apply to your dream schools!

Blond woman with black leather backpack standing in front of row houses

You’re ready to hit the books—abroad! But first, you need to get all your ducks in a row applying to universities abroad.

The idea of applying to any school can be intimidating, but even more so when applying to schools abroad – but never fear! GoAbroad is here with five hot tips when applying for university abroad to make sure the process is smooth and successful!

How to apply for abroad universities like a rock star 

1. Get organized

Remember when you were a kid and your mom used to force you to clean and organize your room, yelling: You’ll thank me someday! Guess what? This is your mom’s chance to say “I told you so.” Organization is key when applying to university abroad.

First of all, you’re going to have to study up on the application process of universities abroad. Depending on where you plan on living and studying, the application process may be very different from applying to universities back home.

Next, make a calendar of application (and visa!) deadlines. Things like recommendation letters, transcripts, and essays can take a while to put together, so the earlier you start, the better! Also, if you’re mailing all these documents to your university abroad, rather than submitting them electronically, make sure to factor in how long it takes for mail to travel across the world. Making a spreadsheet to keep everything clean and organized when applying to universities abroad is never a bad idea either!

Submitting your visa application is just as important as submitting your application for universities overseas. Most—if not all—countries require international students to start the school year off with a visa, which allows you to study in your chosen country. Visas and visa requirements vary by country, so be sure to do your research and the closest consulate if you have any questions. Remember that processing a visa can sometimes be a lengthy process, so submit your application early! 

[Get matched with universities overseas]

Brick walkway at the Forest Research Institute Dehadrun, India

Be part of cutting-edge international research and study all around the world, and walk the hallowed halls your academic heroes once roamed. 

2. Set goals

When applying for university abroad, it’s important to set both your dream goals and your realistic goals. Just as you would when applying for universities in your home country, you shouldn’t just apply to only one university abroad. Apply for your dream schools, but don’t forget to apply to a few backup schools as well!

Don’t forget to set some personal goals for yourself and your degree too! What’s your career/life game plan? How will applying to these international universities abroad help you achieve those goals? To get what you want, you have to know what you want. Be specific, dig deep, and do your research on the resources that these universities can provide you for your degree, and  in your future career.

3. Write a [email protected]#$ personal statement

Your personal statement/essay is your time to shine! It’s your perfectly-crafted moment of glory where you explain to your future university abroad exactly why you’re the perfect match for the school. As an international student, when writing your personal statement, be sure to express your commitment to living and studying abroad.

Writing a personal statement is like an exercise in personal reflection. You have to take a moment and think what motivates you, what drives you, what inspires you to spend your entire collegiate career abroad. Your future university wants to know how studying at their school matches your academic goals, and why you want to study there. They want to get to know you as a prospective student and a person. Once you’ve blown away the admissions department with your brilliant writing, you’ll only be a few short steps away from living your best life abroad!

Still feel like you need a little more advice on how to write an incredible application essay? Check out these tips here. 

[Save and compare your favorite programs at universities abroad with MyGoAbroad]

people studying in library

First, apply for university abroad. Second, find your favorite study spot.

4. Rock the interview

Even though you’re probably thousands of miles away from the universities overseas that you’ve applied to, technology makes interviewing international students all too easy. So yes, even though you live an entire ocean away from your dream school, you’ll still have to go through the somewhat nerve-racking experience of a college interview.

Interviews can seem intimidating, but they’re actually a great way to set yourself apart and make a distinct impression on the admissions counselors. As you prep for your interview, be sure to refer to your personal statement and remind yourself of the reasons you gave for wanting to study at this university, and for studying at a university abroad in general.

It’s a good idea to brush up on current affairs that affect the home country of your university before your interview, and it never hurts to study some of the social customs and greetings of the country! This will show your interviewers that you have a good grasp of global affairs and an understanding of your future home country’s culture. The most important interview prep of all? Get a good night’s sleep the night before!

5. Contact the school

When in doubt, shout it out! And by that we mean, don’t be afraid to reach out to the university (or universities) you are applying to—especially if you’re transferring universities to abroad. You should absolutely the admissions office, the university’s study abroad/international students’ office, and the academic department of whatever major you plan on pursuing.

By simply reaching out to these faculty and administration and introducing yourself, you’ll be putting your name out there. If you are able to build a relationship with the person on the other end of the phone/email, who knows! They may put in a good word for you when your application is being processed and reviewed by the university.

Even better? When you get accepted, you’ll already have a few familiar faces to say hello to when you arrive on campus!

[Keep reading applying for university abroad in our expert article’s directory]

Quad/open space with art on building at Ryerson University, Toronto

Experience a whole new world when you attend universities overseas.

Universities abroad you’ll definitely want to apply to

kcl logo

1. King’s College London—ENGLAND

Ranked one of the top universities not just in the United Kingdom, not just in Europe, but in the world, King’s College London is an incredible option for students applying to universities abroad. London is a lively, diverse metropolitan hub, with international students from all over the world. You’ll fit right into a student scene brimming with culture and cutting-edge academics.

Related: Read King’s College London reviews |

hankuk logo

2. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies—S. KOREA

As a powerhouse economy, politics, and culture in Asia, studying at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea, is perfect for students hoping to get a first-hand look at Korean society, government, and language. The city of Seoul is known for its popping entertainment and food scenes, so you’ll never be lost with nothing to do!

Related: Read Hankuk University of Foreign Studies reviews |   

monash university logo

3. Monash University—AUSTRALIA

Want to study at one of the top universities in the Pacific Ocean and immerse yourself in one of the most artistic, food-centered cultural city hubs? Studying at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, might be just the place for you.

Australian universities have esteemed reputations for being the leaders in science and research, and Monash is no different. Students looking to be on a campus of innovation and student-led projects will find the perfect home at Monash University. Outside of the walls of the university are the streets of Melbourne, a city that is just as effortlessly hip as it is welcoming.

Related: Read reviews |

Universidad del Pacífico logo

4. Universidad del Pacífico—PERU

Lima, Peru: a combination of Spanish colonial architecture, indigenous vibrancy, and Peruvian liveliness! It’s an expansive metropolitan city in a country known for rolling hills and mountains, and the Universidad del Pacífico is one of the most esteemed universities in Latin America. Known particularly for its economics, law, and business programs, this university offers unparalleled experiences for international students looking to get a grasp of South American markets and politics.

Related: Read Universídad del Pacifico reviews |

[See all universities abroad]

Arches and walkway at Stanford University

Ready to walk picturesque halls and pull all-nighters in insta-worthy libraries?

Next steps when applying for university abroad

So you’ve gotten through the challenging and time-consuming process of applying to a university abroad. Congratulations! Now you just sit around and anxiously wait to hear back from the universities, right?

Wrong! You don’t just apply for university abroad and call it good. You’ve still got a few things to knock out in preparation for that shiny and exciting acceptance letter heading your way in the mail.

1. Study the language

If you’ll be attending universities abroad in a country that does not speak your native language, you’ll definitely want to study up on the language of your future home. Many universities abroad provide classes in English, but even if that’s the case, you should still make an effort to learn the language of your new home country. Not only will this help you in your academics, it will also help you immerse yourself in the local culture of the country.

Learning the language is your ticket in for making friends with other students and navigating the daily life of someone living in (fill in your dream country’s name here). Learning a language abroad is basically a guaranteed survival tool when moving to a new country!

2. Apply for scholarships

Good news! Many universities abroad want to recruit international students to their shores so they can have a more diverse student body. Because of this, there are a lot of scholarships out there for international students to make studying abroad more enticing, and they’re yours for the picking! After all, scholarships are literally just free money, and all you have to do is submit a killer scholarship essay to snag them.

There are literally thousands of scholarships out there, and you can search for any and all of them in GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory

[Check out this infographic: Should I Get my Degree Abroad or at Home?]

3. Lock down that visa

Many countries require international students to acquire student visas in order for them to reside and study in the country. You can find most information regarding visa application deadlines and requirements on the official website of your university’s country’s website. However, be sure to also reach out to the local consulate or embassy so you can double-check and be absolutely sure of the process!

Keep in mind that it can sometimes take a long time for visa applications to process, and you make have to cut through a lot of bureaucratic red tape to obtain one. So be sure to submit your application as early as possible! Without a visa, you can’t live out your dreams of studying in your dream country at your dream university! 

girl in graduation gown and red tassel popping champagne

Today you’re applying for university abroad, but before you know it you’ll be celebrating graduation!

4. Research your future home

“Home” can mean two things: your actual home (where you will be living) and your new home country. Many universities in countries such as the United Kingdom will provide housing for their students in the form of dorms or on-campus apartments. However, in other countries, universities may not guarantee housing, or provide it at all. Do your research before you jump on that plane, because you might need to find your own apartment. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for students looking for shared housing online on message boards and apartment-sharing websites. 

You’ll also want to research the other side of “home” - the country you’ll be living in! It’s always a good idea to study up on the history, culture, and traditions of the country you’ll be living in. Having an in-depth knowledge of your new home will allow you to appreciate it far more, and you’ll be ready to navigate the streets like a real pro! Researching the country beforehand and knowing what you’re in for may also help you cope with the effects of culture shock

[Will My International Degree Get Me a Good Job?]

If you're applying for university abroad, you’re ready… almost 

Applying for a university abroad can be a challenging, stressful process, but if you follow these tips and get all your paperwork on time, you’ll be all set to go. You can use MyGoAbroad to compare programs and schools side-by-side, and help you narrow down what universities you’d like to apply to. 

If you’re still a bit overwhelmed by the process of choosing where you’d like to go, you can always use GoAbroad’s Online Advisors to get some customized advice, based on your interests and experience. You’ll be on a plane and on your way to an international degree in no time!

Find degree abroad programs