Monthly Archives: May 2016

That should you know about international students

The prospect of flying half-way round the world to study in a foreign land and culture can feel daunting, and adjusting to life in a new country and university is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. After all, one of the reasons studying abroad is such an amazing experience is that it takes us out of our comfort zones. Just follow these six tips to take the stress out of studying abroad.

  1. Spend wisely and save money

Let’s get this one done and dusted first. Money is often a major stress-factor for students and studying abroad is expensive. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something…expensive. But that doesn’t mean that you have to empty your savings or pile up debt to have a great experience. Here are couple tips for smart spending and saving money while you’re abroad:

  • Resist temptation

Don’t buy everything you see when you first arrive, no matter how cool things seem. Stick to necessities and save the souvenirs for the end of your visit. And remember – anything you buy you’ll want to take back with you, so consider your luggage allowance before buying a didgeridoo in Australia or a set of steel drums while studying in Jamaica.

  • Do like the locals

One of the best ways to save money while studying abroad is to live like a local. Cook local foods, or better yet, get a local to teach you how to cook their favorite food. And while you’re at it, ask them what locals do for fun – you’ll get a much better sense of the culture, and you’ll make new friends in the process.

  2. Use the money you saved to travel.

Souvenirs are great, but memories are even better. Use the money you saved by eating local grub (maybe literally in Peru) to travel and see the country and surrounding areas. Your camera and your journal will capture your time a lot better than a t-shirt or a snow globe.

  3. Eat healthy food on a budget.

We’ve already pointed out that eating local can help save money, but it can also help you stay healthy. Burgers and sweets or the go-to college foods (noodles and frozen pizza) might seem easy, but your waistline and your health will take the toll and no one needs that kind of stress. Before you even leave home, take some time to learn a few basic and healthy dishes. Soups, stews, and casseroles are easy and budget-friendly, and they don’t require a lot of complicated kitchen equipment. Learn the ins and outs of a chicken – one decent sized bird can feed a poor student for at least a week if you know what you’re doing with a knife and some basic ingredients. Once you’ve arrived, check out campus and community centers to see if there are any cooking courses offered for beginners or students. We’ve already suggested asking a local for cooking tips, but as an international student you probably have the combined culinary expertise of the United Nations at your doorstep. Why not organize an international food night and ask all your new friends to cook and bring their favourite food from home.

  4. Become a local-transport expert.

It’s tempting to hop into cabs when you’re in a new place, but if you can master the train, underground, or bus system, you’ll save yourself a bundle of money and time. Or better yet, start walking! While this may not be feasible all the time (especially if you live in a big city or a rural location) but you’d be surprised at how walking can often be the quickest, most enjoyable means of transportation. Plus, you’ll see lots of interesting sights and get good exercise along the way!

  5. Prepare in advance

You’ve probably already sussed out the cost of accommodations and transport, but have you considered mobile phone plans? Prescription drugs? Bank charges? All these things can add up, and it pays to plan ahead and know what to expect. Some things, like prescriptions, might be cheaper (or free) in your home country so something simple like talking to your doctor and getting a few months in advance could save you a lot of money and stress. Check with your bank before leaving and make sure you won’t wrack up charges by using your cards abroad. Your mobile phone might be permanently attached to your thumbs, but using it abroad could be a major money pit. Switch to a local SIM when you arrive, or just get a cheap pay-as-you-go phone for the duration of your studies.

  6. Make friends and have fun!

Landing in a foreign country will be a shock no matter what, so give yourself time to adjust but don’t just hide away in your room. Get to know your flatmates, classmates, and other people on campus. And don’t just stick with the other international students. If you’re having trouble meeting people, check out your school’s student associations and join a club or group that shares your interests. Sign up for excursions and get involved in on-campus activities. Go out and mingle with locals – take a dance class or volunteer. Whatever you do, relax. So many students worry so much about making their time abroad a memorable experience that they actually forget to experience anything – so have fun and live! Bon voyage!

Tips for Create A Good Reference Letter

images-21A good recommendation letter from the right referee can make a huge impact on a student’s application. But figuring out which professor to approach, and what information they’ll need can be stressful since few students are given much instruction on how to seek out good letters of reference. Never fear! We’ve compiled some tips on how to pick your references and get a good recommendation. So, whether you’re applying to grad school or your first job, or even if you’re looking for references for study abroad programs, scholarships, and internships, follow these four steps to a stellar recommendation and success.

1. Choose wisely

This is the part that students find most stressful – choosing the right professor to write the letter. Asking for a reference can feel rather intimidating, but it’s important to remember that most professors have a vested interest in their students’ success and are happy to assist in many ways. That being said, it’s important to approach the right professor. The instructor’s reputation can be beneficial, particularly if they’re well-respected or a leader in their field, but don’t base your decision on prestige alone. Make sure to choose a professor who knows you well – an ideal candidate for a reference letter would be a professor or instructor that you had for several classes over the course of your studies and with whom you have worked recently. It should go without saying that you choose a professor who has seen your best work and who gave you good marks and feedback. But it’s also important to consider the application requirements. If you’re applying for a Masters in Engineering, it may not be very helpful to choose your Poli-Sci professor from second year, even if you did get straight As in her class. Or if you’re applying for a job on a marketing team, it’s a good idea to ask a professor who can speak to your abilities in a group or on collaborative work.

2. Prepare well

Most professors understand that writing recommendations is part of the job, and they’re happy to help. In fact, many professors will be flattered by your request. But that doesn’t mean that you can just pop by and ask for a letter two days before the application is due. First, contact your professor either in his office hours or via email and ask, politely, whether he is willing to write a letter of recommendation. If you receive a positive response, gather all the information the professor will need to write a reference – your transcripts, CV, application instructions, and all the relevant documents – and visit his office hours with the materials. Make sure to include contact information so that the professor can get in touch with questions or requests. If you’re submitting the documents electronically, make sure that they’re clearly labeled and saved in a format that can be opened in many programs, and find out whether the professor will submit the letter or whether you need to collect it once it’s finished.

3. Timing is Everything

Professors are normally happy to help a student they feel have the skills and drive to succeed, especially when that student has performed well in class and demonstrates passion for the subject. But professors are also busy, and a good letter of reference doesn’t just magically appear overnight. Approach your chosen professor early – weeks (or months if possible) before the application is due. Make sure to submit all the necessary paperwork and information to the professor in a timely fashion, and complete as much of the application as possible to save your professor time and effort. If your application includes a personal statement or project plan, have a draft ready and include it with the information you provide to the professor so that she has context for your application. And follow up on your request – if the application is due next week and you haven’t heard from the professor, it’s appropriate to send a friendly and polite email to check on the letter’s progress. But don’t badger your professor – yours may not be the only letter they are writing.


What is The Attracting More as A Students

Historically, Iran has been anything but a booming higher education market. Why? Because opportunities were largely limited to an elite subset of rich, connected or academically extraordinary students. Over the past decade, however, this trend has dramatically reversed in direction. In fact, education today in Iran is rigorously equal opportunity for the nation’s students, with rising potential for international students, as well. Let’s take a closer look at the transformation of Iran’s education system, along with why so many students are heeding the call of this emerging player on the higher education scene.

A Look Back

A scant decade ago, a climate of higher education inclusivity in Iran was far from the reality. In fact, nearly 2.5 million high school age students in Iran were not even enrolled in high school, according to The Washington Post. Those who were, meanwhile, were in the right grade less than 50 percent of the time. Given that the university system during that time period accepted a mere 10 percent of applicants, it’s hardly surprising that many students opted out of college for the more attainable labor market.

The 2005 to 2013 administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saw rapid change. By the conclusion of his term, more than a million university spots were available, largely due to a rise in part-time and distance-learning offerings. Now, according to Washington Post reporter Shervin Malekzadeh, “For the first time in Iran’s modern history, anyone who is willing to pay can go to university.”

A Dynamic Present

According to Malekzadeh, “As participation in post-secondary education has become commonplace, what was once an exception reserved for the extraordinary has become an expectation for all. Universal access to higher education has transformed the experience of going to university and those who attend, into the ordinary.”

In  particular, the rapid expansion of two schools alone — the public Payame Noor University (PNU) and the private Payame Noor University (PNU) — has had a transformative effect on Iran’s higher education landscape: Both universities currently enroll more than a million students each.

The opening of these doors is particularly relevant at a time when Iran’s population is remarkably young. Of its 80.8 million people, 24 percent are between the ages of zero and 14, 19 percent are between the ages of 15 and 24, and 46 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54. The 55 and over set, meanwhile, make up just 11.5 percent of the country’s population.

Couple the ripeness of the population with growing opportunities, and university enrollments reached a record-high of 4.4 million in 2014. It follows that demand for advanced studies is also expected to climb in the near future.

And while there are some growing pains associated with this kind of meteoric growth, the majority of Iranians now not only see the value of a degree, but also see it within their own reach. In fact, Iranian parents fork over more than $3 billion annual for higher education for their kids — opportunities they themselves most likely never had.

In fact, according to a brief from Brandeis University’s Nader Habibi, Iran is producing university graduates at a faster rate than any other Middle Eastern country. Equally as noteworthy? The majority — a full 60 percent — are women.

The International Scene

But interest in the Iranian higher education system is not just limited to Iranians thanks to President Hassan Rouhani’s favorable viewpoint of international mobility. Not only has Rouhani lifted several restrictions while supporting international academic collaboration, but the easing of sanctions is now allowing American and Iranian colleges to partner with each other.

Last summer, the Institute of International Education (IIE) sent a delegate of U.S. representatives to visit Iran’s universities and research centers. Said IIE CEO and president Allan E. Goodman,

Credit: TK Danesh InstituteImage courtesy of TK Danesh Institute

“One by one, there is already since President Rouhani’s election a flow of academic exchange that hasn’t existed for 30 years.” Goodman went on to say that with faculty members already commencing travel to Iran, it’s only a matter of time before opportunities for students also arise.

Outbound exchange is also picking up after the past decade of economic and diplomatic sanctions. Today, estimates put the number of Iranians studying abroad somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000, with Europe, the UK and the US in particular demand, according to a report from TK Danesh Institute Managing Director Soheyl M. Ahmadi. At the Master’s and Ph.D. levels, meanwhile, Malaysia claimed the top destination spot, followed by the US, Canada, Germany and the UK.

While Iran is well on its way to achieving its official goal of having 60 percent of its college-age population enrolled in some kind of higher education by 2025, the potential impact is far from limited to domestic outcomes. Between its expanded capacity, ongoing demand, and new global perspective, Iran is well-positioned to take on a greater role in international markets in the years ahead.