Student Finance

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 1)

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London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and attracts people from all corners of the globe each year. It has a rich history to discover and caters for every taste.

Unfortunately, London’s popularity means it can be an expensive city to live in, so for most students, getting by on a limited budget is essential.

It can be hard to avoid tourist traps as an international student, so getting to know the place can save you a lot.

 

Here are a few London transport tips to avoiding throwing money down the drain as a student.

 

Two Wheels Good

Cycling is perhaps the cheapest way to get around a major city. In fact, over a million Londoners own a bicycle and use it regularly. A word of warning though: only cycle if you are competent cyclist – London traffic can be difficult to handle. But there are many parks, group lessons, and a growing cycle highway system which can help you gain the confidence and practice you need.

You can also hire one of London’s 11,000 ‘Boris Bikes’ (named after the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson) from one of the 750 docking stations across the capital. It costs £2 to rent the bike for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of your journey is free.

 

Mind the gap

The city’s public transport network is extensive and well-developed, but some may find ticket prices a bit high. No need to panic though if you’re a student: just get a Student Oyster photocard to enjoy a 30% discount on travel cards as well as tube, bus and rail fares.

 

Don’t stick to the map

Another way is to just walk! Walking is the best way to discover any city’s secrets. You’ll soon realise that most things are nearer than you thought and you’ll get the added exercise and save lots of money! For instance, most Tube stations in the centre are within walking distance (around 0.5 to 1 mile) of each other.

 

Happy travels!

 

GLOSSARY

 

get by
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to manage, especially when facing difficulties
Example : Tom and Sally are able to get by with little money, as their needs are limited.

 

Cater for
Form : verb
Meaning : To provide what is needed
Example : The cabin crew catered for all passengers’ needs.

 

handle
Form : verb
Meaning : to deal with a situation
Example : Miguel doesn’t handle angry customers well.

 

throwing money down the drain
Form : phrase
Meaning : To waste money (especially by spending it on something useless)
Example :  ‘Why are you spending your wages on gambling? You’re just throwing money down the drain!’

 

 

competent
Form : Adjective
Meaning : Having the necessary skill or ability to do something
Example : Mathew was a competent swimmer and knew to stop when he felt tired.

 

 

 

 

The View From Campus: Five Things to do Before Your Arrival in the U.S.

 

In the third edition of our View From Campus series, we look at five tips international students should follow when preparing for their studies in the U.S.

We spoke to Adina Lav, Assistant Provost for International Enrollment at George Washington University, about her college and the advice she gives new arrivals…

 

  • Describe your institution in five words? Innovative; diverse; ambitious; socially responsible.
  • What is your institution best known for overseas? We are a university with students and faculty members from every state and more than 130 countries. A GW education integrates intellectual discovery, interactive learning and unparalleled access to opportunities in every sector of society. In a city shaping the future, George Washington is a university where faculty and students not only study the world but also work to change it.
  • What are your top academic programs? GW is well known for its majors and research in political science and international affairs. We also have excellent programs in business, engineering, arts and the sciences.
  • What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution? GW has 26,000 students, with nearly 2,400 students from 130 countries, 300 visiting international scholars, and a footprint in more than 80 percent of the countries in the world.  In Fall 2015, China, India, S. Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada were the top five countries represented in our student body. 
  • How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process? IELTS is used as an assessment of English language ability: writing, reading, speaking, and listening – in the admissions process. We use it as part of a larger, holistic review to understand a candidate’s chances of success and best fit for GW. 

 

Five Things to do Before Your Arrival in the U.S.

  1. Once students have got their visas to enter the U.S., what is the most important thing you recommend students do next? Students should focus on their arrival timeline. Most universities have a ‘report date’, which is the date by which the student must be on campus. This date may or may not align with the student’s orientation program. If housing is available, I recommend that students plan to arrive no later than two days prior to their orientation program. This gives them time to get into the country, settle in, and fight any impending jet lag before orientation starts.
  2. How soon can students enter the U.S. once they have their visas? Students entering the United States on F1 or J1 visas can typically do so up to 30 days prior to their report date. Students entering early should confirm housing availability or have a temporary, alternative option set up.
  3. Would you recommend any resources in the students’ home countries to help them prepare for their journey to the U.S.? One of the best resources is the US. Department of State’s EducationUSA advising centres in the student’s country. These centres often have in-person or online pre-departure orientations, which offer a wealth of information to students before the leave for the U.S.
  4. How do U.S. colleges assist international students to prepare for their arrival on campus? In addition to assistance throughout the visa process, colleges typically offer their own pre-departure orientations, checklists, and resource guides. Social media is also a wonderful tool to not only get to know the school and community you’re moving to, but to meet other in-coming students as well. Many schools also offer summer send-off celebrations for students and parents through local alumni chapters.
  5. What advice would you give students who are about to get on a plane to the U.S. to begin a degree program? Come into the country with an open mind and a sense of humour. Americans are naturally curious and straight-forward. Be a good ambassador for your community and remember that the U.S. is a very diverse country, with lots of ideas about the outside world, but generally little exposure. Students have the opportunity to represent themselves, their home communities, and eventually their new universities well.

The View From Campus: Tips for Funding a U.S. Degree

EIU

Photo courtesy of jrmyers (CC licence)

 

Eastern Illinois University

We spoke to William Elliott, Assistant Dean of Graduate & International Admissions at EIU about financing a U.S degree.

 

Describe your institution in 5 words?

Nationally ranked comprehensive Midwestern university

 

What is your institution best known for overseas?

EIU is known primarily for its programs in Technology, Economics and Business Administration

 

What are the top 5 countries represented at your institution after the U.S.?

India, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, South Korea and Nigeria. International enrollment is 373 out of 7990 total enrollment.

 

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?

We use IELTS as a part of our suite of language proficiency tests accepted to gauge a non-native speaker’s mastery of English language. It’s our belief that we should be as flexible as possible in acceptance of IELTS and other testing tools so as to allow our students more flexibility in their choice of use and availability.

 

Tips for Funding a U.S. Higher Education

  1. What are the best sources of funding for international students coming to the U.S.?

Most institutions will offer scholarships and graduate assistantships based on a combination of GPA (grade point average), financial need, and/or other factors.

 

Graduate assistantships can be offered in every graduate program as well as non-academic units. Assistantships provide a monthly stipend in exchange for duties performed in research, teaching and service, as well as a tuition waiver scholarship.

 

  1. How should prospective international undergraduate students look at the price of a U.S. higher education?

A student should understand that due to the strong accreditation system in the US, price is not a good indicator as to the quality of education they will receive. It’s possible for a student to be price-conscious and still earn a degree that will not only help them succeed in their career, but also be the equivalent of a higher priced, more “prestigious” university (as long as their school is equally accredited).

 

  1. For postgraduate students, what is the best advice for finding institutional aid?

My best advice would be to be as interactive with the graduate faculty as possible via whatever technological means available. A big part of successful graduate education is to search for a program that is a good academic fit for both student and their faculty.

 

  1. Talk about the role of work in funding an international students’ education in the U.S.?

Students must have their own means of outside funding and/or scholarship and monetary awards and not plan to support themselves with on-campus employment. The best that one might hope for might be to recoup some money from OPT (Optional Practical Training) employment after graduation, but that is not guaranteed.

 

  1. Are there funding sources available for students after their first year of studies, in case they don’t receive any institutional support initially?

In some cases there might be departmental awards or scholarships that come available once a student has proven their academic talent. Again, these should serve more as an unexpected reward for great academic performance, and not as a hopeful source of base funding.

 

We’ll have more interviews with university faculty members in the campus spotlight, so stay tuned.

 

Five Résumé Tips to Get Yourself a Part-time Job

Are you a university student? Want to make some extra money, develop job skills, and get some valuable work experience before you graduate?

 

Part-time jobs, be it ‒ waiter, shop assistant, telemarketer, teaching assistant ‒ can make you richer (just a tad though) and more employable. So how do you begin looking for one? A well-constructed résumé (also known as curriculum vitae or CV) will certainly help you sell yourself effectively to employers.

 

Here are five ways to make your résumé, a written record of your education and work history, compelling!

 

  1. Functional vs. Chronological

There are as many résumé types as there are job applicants; each individual is unique and so is their résumé. Perhaps the most popular format is the chronological résumé ‒ work information is arranged beginning with the most recent job, followed by the one before and so on. Since college students may have little to no experience, it’s best to use a functional résumé, as it highlights the applicant’s skills rather than work experience.

 

When it comes to the format, choose wisely!

 

  1. Relate Past Experience to the Job

If you add details of some work, project, or assignment you did in the past that seems totally unrelated to the job you’re applying for, describe them in a manner that brings out some essential quality employers look for. For instance, if that past experience indicates that you are reliable or have a strong work ethic, employers are likely to take notice.

 

Every detail on your résumé should add value!

 

  1. Customise

Each job you apply for is different to the previous one; make small changes to your résumé so that it fits the job description posted by the employer. If a particular skill like teamwork, for example, is considered important in a job, emphasise that in your résumé; use clear examples to show that you can perform well as part of a team.

 

Your résumé should be tailored for the job you’re applying for!

 

  1. Highlight Education

Education often appears at the bottom of a résumé. If you are a student with very less experience in the target field, your education is the most valuable thing you have to offer – make sure it appears prominently. Add details such as the names of educational institutions, their location, extra-curricular activities, projects / courses completed (if relevant), etc.

 

The less experience you have, the more important your education becomes!

 

  1. Use Strong Action Verbs

Strong action verbs make your skills and achievements sound more impressive so remember to use them in descriptions. Let’s compare:

 

  • Found ways to increase business during week days
  • Identified ways to increase business during week days

 

  • Did a course in creative writing
  • Completed a course in creative writing

 

Words such as identified and completed increase the strength of your writing. Here’s a list of action verbs to get you started.

Always begin a description with a strong action verb!

 

Remember, an impressive résumé alone can’t get you hired, but what it can do is create enough interest in you to land you an interview. So, be prepared!

Four Reasons to Study in Poland (in English)

Mathu

Photo courtesy of Mathangi Jeyakumar

 

An Unconventional Choice

Born in Norway to Indian parents, Mathangi Jeyakumar ‒ or ‘Mathu’ as she’s known among friends and family ‒ had her schooling in two different countries, India and Norway. Having completed her O-level in Norway and a bachelor’s degree in India, she then made an unconventional choice: to do a graduate programme in Management at Kozminski University, Poland – taught in English!

More and more people are taking advantage of degrees in continental Europe taught in English and, like Mathu, open their horizons to new cultures and experiences amongst an international peer group.

 

Why Poland?

 

  1. Over 400 courses in English

Despite Polish remaining the common medium of instruction across the country, more than 400 courses are now taught in English. And the good news for international students is that this number is expanding at a fast rate, thanks to Poland’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence in European education.

 

  1. Expanding community of international students

Poland’s international student population is getting larger and larger with each passing year. Visit one of its top-class medical universities and you are likely to meet students from the USA, UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, among others. Many arrive as exchange students for a term but are attracted by its rich history, great food, vibrant night-life and picturesque countryside.

 

  1. Inexpensive tuition fees

Compared to many European countries, Polish educational establishments charge a lot less in tuition fees. You can expect to pay somewhere between £1,250 and £2,750 a year, which is a bargain considering that you get to study in a European country. Of course, this figure may vary depending on your choice of institution, type of course, etc. ‒ enrolling at one of Poland’s acclaimed medical universities can cost you over £10,000 per year.

 

  1. Low cost of living

When a  meal can cost you under £3, a loaf of bread is under than fifty pence, and shared accommodation is available for about £100 a month – you know you’ve come to an inexpensive part of Europe. If you are used to the high costs in countries such as the UK and the US, then it’s safe to say that Poland is cheap!

 

For more information about studying abroad and proving your ability in English click here

Powodzenia! (Good luck)

Financing a U.S. Degree: A Funding Overview

Money US

Photo courtesy of Thomas Galvez Flickr CC

 

When applying to colleges and universities in the United States, one of the first experiences most students have is shock at the costs involved.

For example, the annual cost for a bachelor’s degree program at an elite institution, (including tuition and fees, living expenses, books and supplies, health insurance, etc.) can exceed $75,000.

While there are institutions where the annual expenses may be under $20,000, the majority are in the middle, out of reach for many aspiring students. Yet there are currently over one million international students studying in the United States.

 

So, how do they fund their studies?

The Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors Report shows that for 64% of students, personal and family sources are the primary source of funding, followed by U.S. colleges or universities at 21%.

financing a US degree image

According to data from a 2014 NAFSA report, international students received almost $10 billion in financial support from U.S. sources in the form of scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, assistantships, etc.

 

Which schools gave that aid?

There are over 4,500 accredited U.S. colleges and universities. To find current financial aid offered to international students, use this searchable database.

 

Graduates

In general, more aid is available to students seeking graduate (masters or doctorate) degrees in the United States, in the form of graduate teaching or research assistantships that provide tuition waivers, and stipends for work done for specific departments on campus.

 

Undergraduates

The first step to financing your undergraduate degree in the U.S.  is to assess your own funds and the typical costs for your university of choice. You should also research the area you’ll be living in and the typical living costs involved. Your university will be able to advise you on this.

You’ll of course be required to prove your English ability. To find out how IELTS can prepare you for a U.S. degree, visit takeielts.org

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