Further Education: Should I stay or should I go?

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In our series, we explore the further education options available to students when they leave school.  We help you to consider that all-important decision of whether to study abroad or at home.

So, you’re absolutely sure that you want to get into Further Education. You’re just not ready for the world of employment and you’re excited to start the next phase of your academic career.

Where to go will be one of the most important decisions you ever have to make, and it might just be one of the toughest. Your options are endless, especially if you’re undecided about the course you’d like to pursue. Millions of students now choose to study outside their home country, and this is going to be something for you to consider.t and you’re excited to start the next phase of your academic career.

But there are pros and cons to leaving the comfort of your family and committing yourself to three or four years abroad. And it’s not your only option. So what should you be considering as you enter the final years of school?

What’s the best option for ME?
It’s vital that you’re completely comfortable with the decision you make about your further education. We’re not talking about the natural nerves and anxiety that anybody feels before embarking on a new adventure- they’re to be expected. We’re talking about making a decision based on a carefully considered evaluation of your options AND what you feel is right for you.

Don’t be tempted to push yourself towards one route just because your friends are going down it. Many of your ‘friends for life’ will be made after you leave school, so carve your own path.

Family are an important part of the process and they are likely to be impacted by your decisions, but don’t allow them to take over; if they can see that you’re doing your own independent research, they’ll take your suggestions seriously.

Don’t let financial implications immediately put you off. Yes, some options are cheaper than others, but it will cost you more to give up and start again if you end up somewhere that isn’t suited to you.

Don’t set yourself up for too big a challenge. Think outside the box and push yourself to reach your potential, but don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. If you’ve never spent time away from home and you are heavily dependent on your family, moving to a country on the other side of the world may prove too big a change to cope with.

You know yourself better than anybody else and you are the one who is going to have to make this work.

The benefits of study abroad.
If, after careful consideration, you’ve decided you’re up for the challenge, studying abroad could be an exciting and career-propelling option.

Studying abroad is a great opportunity for personal growth. You’re thrust into new surroundings and a different culture, and exposed to new people, places, sights and sounds. To fit in takes some adjustment, and that process forces you to grow up pretty quickly. You’ll have your first taste of real independence and you’ll learn how to interact with others, find your way around, manage your finances, and cope with challenges on your own. This will change your life forever and you’ll experience a liberating feeling of ‘If I can do this, I can do anything’.

It could be the best option for you academically. If you have a certain subject in mind, it could be that the best places to study it are abroad. It may be that a certain country has a great reputation for advancing research in your particular study field. If it’s going to boost your career prospects, go for it! But do your research early-on to ensure your high school qualifications meet the entrance requirements at your dream Uni.

Employers love it. Your CV will stand out to employers who are looking for the kind of personal qualities and professional skills that moving abroad to study gives you. They’ll recognise that you challenged yourself personally and sacrificed home comforts for the sake of your future prospects, and they’ll see that completing the course and getting home in one piece required maturity, self-motivation, organisation, and determination.

The benefits of staying at home.

It’s likely to save you a lot of money. Fees for International students at top universities can be staggering. For example, get yourself onto an Engineering course at the world-renowned Cambridge University and you’ll be paying around AED 115,000 per year for the privilege. That’s before living expenses, the cost of textbooks, and flights home. Staying at home (particularly if your parents will allow you to remain living with them) will allow you to escape such a huge bill.

You’re closer to your support network. If you stay at home, you’ll obviously still be around your friends and family. This is particularly appealing if close friends are also sticking around. You get the best of both worlds because you’ll easily pick up new friends on your course whilst still enjoying the comfort of your familiar circle. Although some people are desperate to spread their wings, others can’t imagine leaving their family. It’s just down to personality.

It’s never too late. If you’re not quite ready to leave the nest for undergraduate study, there’s nothing to stop you from doing it later on. Postgraduate study or employment might see you flying off around the globe. Just because you stay at home initially, doesn’t mean the chance is lost forever.

Just can’t quite decide?

If you’re really tempted by the thought of jetting off to a new environment, but you’re not quite ready to commit to the time and money, there are a number of other options that will allow you to test the waters. Next month, we’ll take a look at transitional courses that might just help you to make your mind up.