Top 12 Questions to Ask Your Study Abroad Advisor

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Questions to Ask your Study Abroad Advisor – Studying at an international university can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. During your time abroad, you will make lifelong friends, discover new cultures, build an invaluable network, and grow as a human being.

For most people however, there are a lot of unanswered questions and doubts as they dive into their journey of studying abroad. As is commonly said, you should know the ingredients before you buy the pudding. From tuition levels, to program durations, to cultural norms, always ensure that you are well informed and prepared, so as to make the best decision possible. Remember, it’s your future on the line.

Questions to Ask Your Study Abroad Advisor

Top 12 Questions to Ask Your Study Abroad Advisor

Below are some of the most important questions that you should ask your overseas education advisor.

Academic Questions

1. What are the requirements to enroll at my desired university

Requirements to enroll at your desired university typically include:

  1. Completed Application Form: Submit an online or paper application form.
  2. Academic Transcripts: Provide official transcripts from previous educational institutions.
  3. Standardized Test Scores: Submit scores from tests like SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT, if required.
  4. Letters of Recommendation: Obtain recommendations from teachers or professionals.
  5. Personal Statement/Essay: Write an essay outlining your academic goals and achievements.
  6. Application Fee: Pay a non-refundable application fee

2. Do I need to have a certain GPA?

Yes, most universities have a minimum GPA requirement for admission. The required GPA varies by institution and program but is often around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate programs. Competitive programs may have higher GPA requirements.

3. What classes do I need to have taken?

The required classes depend on the program you are applying for, but generally, you should have:

  1. Core Subjects: Courses in English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
  2. Prerequisite Courses: Specific courses related to your intended major (e.g., Advanced Math and Science courses for STEM programs).
  3. Electives: Additional courses that strengthen your application, such as foreign languages or advanced placement courses.

4. What are the different types of academic programs available? Do they have dual degrees? Is there a work component to the program?

  1. Undergraduate Programs: Bachelor’s degrees (BA, BSc) typically take 3-4 years to complete.
  2. Graduate Programs: Master’s degrees (MA, MSc, MBA) and doctoral degrees (PhD, EdD) for advanced study and research.
  3. Professional Programs: Specialized degrees in fields like law (JD), medicine (MD), and engineering (BEng).
  4. Certificate and Diploma Programs: Shorter, focused programs to gain specific skills or credentials.

Yes, many universities offer dual degree programs that allow students to earn two degrees simultaneously. These programs are often designed to be completed in a shorter time than earning the degrees separately. For work component you can ask about internships, placement cells, etc.

5. Is the program purely academic, or will it also offer an immersive cultural experience?

Many universities offer programs that include immersive cultural experiences. These can include study abroad opportunities, cultural exchange programs, and extracurricular activities that enhance cultural understanding and personal growth.

6. What are the different academic programs available? Can I switch programs if I’m not happy with the one I choose?

  • Undergraduate Programs: Bachelor’s degrees (BA, BSc) typically taking 3-4 years.
  • Graduate Programs: Master’s degrees (MA, MSc, MBA) and doctoral degrees (PhD, EdD) for advanced study.
  • Professional Programs: Specialized degrees in fields like law (JD), medicine (MD), and engineering (BEng).
  • Certificate and Diploma Programs: Shorter, focused programs to gain specific skills or credentials.
  • Associate Degrees: Two-year programs often offered by community colleges.

Yes, most universities allow students to switch programs if they are not satisfied with their current choice.

6. How long does it take to complete the degree? Can I take additional classes to finish the degree faster than normal?

  • Undergraduate Programs: Typically 3-4 years for a bachelor’s degree.
  • Graduate Programs:
    • Master’s degrees usually take 1-2 years.
    • Doctoral degrees (PhD) can take 3-7 years, depending on the field and research requirements.
  • Associate Degrees: Typically 2 years.
  • Certificate and Diploma Programs: Varies, but often 6 months to 2 years.

Many universities allow students to take additional classes to accelerate their studies. This can be done by:

  1. Taking Summer Courses: Enrolling in courses during the summer term.
  2. Increasing Course Load: Taking more credits per semester, if allowed by the university.
  3. Online Courses: Enrolling in online classes to supplement your regular coursework.
  4. AP/IB Credits: Using Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits earned in high school to fulfill college requirements.

7. What is the best program that helps me achieve my career goals?

Firstly, you have to identify your interest and career goals and depending on that below are some courses that you can opt for. Apart from this, also research about the university- its placement, reputation so that it can accelerate in the growth of your career.

  • Business: Consider an MBA or a specialized business degree in marketing, finance, or management.
  • Technology: Look for computer science, information technology, or software engineering programs.
  • Healthcare: Explore programs in medicine, nursing, public health, or biomedical sciences.
  • Engineering: Choose a specific branch like civil, mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering.
  • Arts and Humanities: Consider programs in literature, history, philosophy, or the arts.

Financial Questions

1. What are the costs associated with studying abroad? How much is the average tuition cost?

Studying abroad involves several costs, including tuition, housing, and general living expenses. Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs:

 Tuition Fees:

    • Undergraduate Programs:
      • In the US: $20,000 – $50,000 per year
      • In the UK: £10,000 – £38,000 per year
      • In Canada: CAD 20,000 – CAD 50,000 per year
    • Graduate Programs:
      • In the US: $20,000 – $45,000 per year
      • In the UK: £11,000 – £32,000 per year
      • In Canada: CAD 16,000 – CAD 30,000 per year

2. What is the cost of housing, and the broader cost of living?

Housing Costs

  • On-Campus Housing: $5,000 – $15,000 per year
  • Off-Campus Housing: $7,000 – $20,000 per year (varies by city and type of accommodation)

Cost of Living

  • Food and Groceries: $3,000 – $5,000 per year
  • Transportation: $500 – $1,200 per year (depending on location and mode of transport)
  • Health Insurance: $500 – $2,000 per year
  • Books and Supplies: $500 – $1,000 per year
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: $2,000 – $4,000 per year (entertainment, personal items, etc.)

Additional Costs

  • Visa and Application Fees: $200 – $500
  • Travel Expenses: $500 – $2,000 (depending on distance and frequency of travel)
  • Technology and Internet: $500 – $1,000 per year

Total Estimated Cost

  • Undergraduate Programs: $30,000 – $70,000 per year
  • Graduate Programs: $25,000 – $60,000 per year

3. Are there any scholarships and grants that I can avail to make my program more affordable? (aside from the ones offered by SecureMySchoalrship of course)

Here you can discuss the government, university and country specific scholarships. With SecuremyScholarship, we promise to offer additional scholarship on your application.

4. Can I take advantage of financial aid to reduce my tuition burden?

Yes, you can take advantage of financial aid to reduce your tuition burden. Here are some common options:

Scholarships and Grants

  • Merit-Based Scholarships: Awarded based on academic achievement, talent, or extracurricular involvement.
  • Need-Based Grants: Provided based on financial need, often without repayment requirements.
  • Field-Specific Scholarships: Available for students in specific fields of study or majors.

Work-Study Programs

  • On-Campus Jobs: Part-time work opportunities provided by the university.
  • Off-Campus Jobs: Part-time work authorized under student visa regulations, typically in community service or related to your field of study.

Student Loans

  • Government Loans: Offered by the government of your home country or the country where you are studying, often with lower interest rates.
  • Private Loans: Provided by banks or financial institutions, which may have higher interest rates but can help bridge funding gaps.

Payment Plans

  • Tuition Payment Plans: Many universities offer installment plans to spread out tuition payments over the semester or year.


  • Teaching Assistantships (TAs): Graduate students assist professors with teaching duties and receive a stipend or tuition reduction.
  • Research Assistantships (RAs): Graduate students assist with research projects in exchange for financial support.

Financial Aid Offices

  • University Financial Aid Office: Consult with your university’s financial aid office to explore available options and get personalized advice.

5. What are the different types of insurance that I will need? Do I need medical insurance, travel insurance, renter’s insurance, etc.?

As an international student, having the right insurance coverage is crucial for your safety and well-being. Here are the different types of insurance you may need:

Medical Insurance

  • Health Insurance: Essential for covering medical expenses such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, and emergency care. Many universities offer their own health insurance plans, or you can purchase one from a private provider.
  • Dental and Vision Insurance: Optional but beneficial for covering routine dental check-ups and eye care.

Travel Insurance

  • Travel Insurance: Covers trip cancellations, delays, lost luggage, and other travel-related issues. It often includes emergency medical coverage while traveling outside your host country.

Renter’s Insurance

  • Renter’s Insurance: Protects your personal belongings in case of theft, fire, or other damage to your rental accommodation. It may also cover liability for accidents that occur within your rented space.

Liability Insurance

  • Personal Liability Insurance: Covers legal fees and damages if you are found responsible for accidentally injuring someone or damaging their property.

Other Considerations

  • Auto Insurance: Required if you plan to drive a car. It covers liability, collision, and comprehensive costs related to vehicle accidents or theft.
  • Tuition Insurance: Optional insurance that reimburses you for tuition fees if you have to withdraw from your program due to illness or other covered reasons.
  • Life Insurance: Optional but provides financial support to your family in case of your untimely death.

Travel and Living Questions

1. What is the process to obtain a student visa? What is the country’s visa acceptance rate?

The process to obtain a student visa generally involves the following steps:

  1. Acceptance by an Educational Institution: You must first apply to and be accepted by a recognized educational institution in the country where you plan to study. The institution will provide you with an acceptance letter or a Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE).
  2. Gather Required Documents: Prepare the necessary documents, which typically include:
    • A valid passport
    • Acceptance letter or CoE from your educational institution
    • Proof of sufficient financial resources to cover tuition and living expenses
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Passport-sized photographs
    • Visa application form
    • Payment of visa application fee
  3. Submit Visa Application: Submit your visa application online or at the nearest consulate or embassy of the country where you plan to study. Ensure all required documents are included.
  4. Biometric Information and Interview: You may be required to provide biometric information (fingerprints and photographs) and attend a visa interview.
  5. Medical Examination: Some countries require a medical examination to ensure you meet health standards.
  6. Wait for Processing: The processing time for student visas varies by country. You will be notified once a decision is made.
  7. Receive Visa Decision: If approved, you will receive your student visa, which will be affixed to your passport.

Visa acceptance rates vary by country and can be influenced by various factors such as the applicant’s country of origin, the specific educational institution, and the completeness and accuracy of the application. Here are some approximate acceptance rates for popular study destinations:

  1. United States: The F-1 student visa acceptance rate is generally around 80-85%.
  2. United Kingdom: The Tier 4 (General) student visa acceptance rate is typically around 95%.
  3. Canada: The study permit acceptance rate is approximately 70-75%.
  4. Australia: The student visa acceptance rate is generally around 90-95%.
  5. Germany: The student visa acceptance rate is roughly 90%.

2. What are the risks associated with studying in different countries?

Studying abroad can be an enriching experience, but it also comes with certain risks that students should be aware of:

  1. Health Risks: Exposure to new environments and climates can affect health. Ensure you have proper health insurance and vaccinations.
  2. Cultural Adjustment: Adapting to a new culture can be challenging and may lead to culture shock or homesickness.
  3. Political Stability: Political unrest or instability in some countries can pose risks. Stay informed about the political situation in your destination.
  4. Natural Disasters: Some regions are prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures.
  5. Financial Risks: Currency fluctuations, unexpected costs, and potential financial instability can affect your budget.

3. What are the crime rates?

Crime rates vary significantly between countries and cities. It’s important to research specific locations for up-to-date information. Here are some general insights into crime rates in popular study destinations:

  1. United States: Crime rates vary by city and region. Urban areas may have higher crime rates compared to rural areas.
  2. United Kingdom: Generally lower crime rates than the US, but varies by city. London has higher crime rates compared to smaller towns.
  3. Canada: Known for low crime rates, with cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal being relatively safe.
  4. Australia: Low to moderate crime rates. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne are considered safe.
  5. Germany: Low crime rates overall, with cities like Munich and Berlin being safe.

4. Which cities are perceived as being safe for women?

Safety perceptions can vary, but some cities are consistently rated as safe for women due to low crime rates, good infrastructure, and cultural attitudes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Canada:
    • Toronto: Known for its diversity and low crime rates.
    • Vancouver: Offers a safe environment and good public transportation.
  2. Australia:
    • Melbourne: Consistently ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities.
    • Sydney: Known for its safety and vibrant culture.
  3. Germany:
    • Munich: Low crime rates and safe public transportation.
    • Hamburg: Known for its safety and quality of life.
  4. Netherlands:
    • Amsterdam: Progressive city with low crime rates.
    • Utrecht: Smaller city with a strong sense of community.
  5. Japan:
    • Tokyo: Extremely low crime rates and efficient public services.
    • Kyoto: Known for its safety and cultural heritage.

5. What should I do if I get sick or injured?

If you get sick or injured while studying abroad, follow these steps to ensure you receive the necessary medical care:

  1. Seek Medical Attention:
    • For minor illnesses or injuries, visit a local clinic or doctor.
    • For serious or emergency situations, go to the nearest hospital or emergency room immediately.
  2. Contact University Health Services: Many universities have on-campus health services that can provide medical care or refer you to local healthcare providers.
  3. Inform Your Insurance Provider: Contact your health insurance provider as soon as possible to inform them of your situation and get guidance on covered services and procedures.
  4. Follow Up: After initial treatment, follow up with healthcare providers as needed to ensure proper recovery and management of your condition.

6. Is there a procedure for obtaining medical insurance?

Yes, obtaining medical insurance typically involves the following steps:

  1. Research Insurance Options: Identify the types of health insurance available to international students in your host country. Many universities offer health insurance plans for their students.
  2. Compare Plans: Evaluate different insurance plans based on coverage, cost, and benefits. Consider factors such as coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, prescriptions, emergency care, and mental health services.
  3. Check University Requirements: Ensure the insurance plan meets the health insurance requirements set by your university and your student visa conditions.
  4. Apply for Insurance: Complete the application process for the chosen insurance plan. This may involve filling out forms, providing personal information, and submitting proof of enrollment at your educational institution.
  5. Pay Premiums: Pay the insurance premiums as required. This could be a one-time payment or periodic payments (monthly, quarterly, or annually).
  6. Receive Insurance Card: Once your application is approved and payment is made, you will receive an insurance card or policy document. Keep this with you at all times.

7. What are some things to keep in mind after landing?

  • Immigration and Customs:
    • Have your passport, student visa, and other important documents readily accessible.
    • Be prepared to answer questions about your stay and provide proof of your educational institution’s acceptance.
  • Local Transportation:
    • Familiarize yourself with the local transportation system (buses, trains, taxis) to get from the airport to your accommodation.
    • Arrange for airport pickup or shuttle service if offered by your university.
  • Accommodation:
    • Confirm your accommodation details before arrival. If you’re staying in university housing, know the check-in procedure.
    • If renting off-campus, ensure you have the landlord’s contact information and a way to get the keys.
  • Communication:
    • Set up a local SIM card or international phone plan to stay connected.
    • Notify family and friends of your safe arrival.
  • Money and Banking:
    • Have some local currency for immediate expenses.
    • Set up a local bank account if necessary and understand how to access funds.
  • Orientation Programs:
    • Attend any orientation sessions offered by your university to get familiar with the campus, resources, and local area.
    • Join student groups and activities to meet new people and settle in.

8. What cultural norms should I be aware of?

  • Social Etiquette:
    • Greetings: Learn the common greeting practices. In many Western countries, a handshake is typical, while other cultures might use bows or other gestures.
    • Personal Space: Respect personal space and avoid standing too close to others, especially in places like the UK, US, and Canada.
    • Punctuality: Being on time is important in many cultures, particularly in Germany, Japan, and the UK.
  • Communication:
    • Directness: In some cultures like the US and Germany, direct communication is valued. In others, like Japan, indirect communication is more common.
    • Body Language: Be mindful of body language and gestures, as they can have different meanings in different cultures.
  • Dining Etiquette:
    • Table Manners: Learn the basic table manners of your host country. For example, in some cultures, it’s polite to finish all the food on your plate, while in others, it’s acceptable to leave a little.
    • Tipping: Understand the local tipping practices. In the US, tipping in restaurants is expected, whereas in some countries, it’s not common or is included in the bill.
  • Dress Code:
    • Appropriate Attire: Dress according to the local norms, which might vary based on the setting (university, formal events, casual outings). Some cultures may be more conservative than others.
  • Public Behavior:
    • Noise Levels: Be aware of acceptable noise levels in public places. Some cultures value quietness in public areas like Japan, while others might be more tolerant of noise.
    • Queuing: Respect the practice of queuing or standing in line, which is particularly important in the UK and Japan.
  • Respect for Traditions:
    • Holidays and Festivals: Learn about local holidays and festivals and show respect for cultural traditions and practices.
    • Religious Practices: Be mindful of religious customs and dress codes, especially in regions with strong religious traditions.

9. What is the cost of travel to different countries?

The cost of travel varies significantly based on the distance, time of year, and how far in advance you book your tickets. Here are some average round-trip airfare costs from major study destinations to popular home countries:

  1. United States:
    • To Europe: $600 – $1,200
    • To Asia: $700 – $1,500
    • To Latin America: $500 – $1,000
  2. United Kingdom:
    • To Europe: £50 – £300 (short-haul flights)
    • To North America: £400 – £800
    • To Asia: £500 – £1,200
  3. Canada:
    • To Europe: CAD 600 – CAD 1,200
    • To Asia: CAD 800 – CAD 1,500
    • To Latin America: CAD 600 – CAD 1,200
  4. Australia:
    • To Asia: AUD 400 – AUD 1,200
    • To North America: AUD 1,000 – AUD 2,000
    • To Europe: AUD 1,200 – AUD 2,500
  5. Germany:
    • To Europe: €50 – €300 (short-haul flights)
    • To North America: €400 – €900
    • To Asia: €500 – €1,200

10. Would it be easy to travel home during summer or winter break?

  • Flight Availability:
    • High Demand Periods: Summer and winter breaks are peak travel times, so flights can be more expensive and book up quickly. Plan and book early to secure the best prices and availability.
  • Travel Time:
    • Long Haul Flights: Consider the length of the flight and the potential for layovers. Long haul flights can be exhausting, so factor in recovery time when planning your trip.
  • Costs:
    • Budget: Travel costs can be significant. Check for student discounts, deals, and consider budget airlines if cost is a major concern.
  • Visa and Immigration:
    • Re-entry Requirements: Ensure you have all necessary documentation for re-entry into your host country, such as a valid visa and any required permits.
  • Health and Safety:
    • COVID-19 Considerations: Be aware of travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, and health advisories related to COVID-19 or other health concerns.
  • Local Conditions:
    • Weather and Holidays: Consider the weather conditions and local holidays at both your destination and home, which might affect travel plans.

Aside from all of the above, the most important question that you should always ask your advisor is how you can make the most of your study abroad experience?

Always remember, it’s your future at stake, so ensure that you always have all the necessary information and be prepared.

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Jaipreet Kaur

I've had the opportunity to learn more about the educational systems of many various countries thanks to my 13 years of experience in this subject. This involves coordinating applicants, keeping in touch with students, answering their inquiries, and counselling them about studying abroad.

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