Guest post by Incred:
You must pay special attention to these broad factors while you are applying for admissions to Universities abroad.
 Do not rush through the applications – As colleges have very strict deadlines, you must shell out a considerable amount of time to prepare well for applying to the universities and courses. It is advisable to take 12-18 months for applications. Though, some programs and courses require to put in less time. But start early in a planned manner and begin as early as possible to apply on time. There is a whole bunch of information and resources that is to be researched upon intensively to select the course, university, country commensurate with your abilities and strengths. There are varied type of courses like research based, vocational, application oriented,etc. Then, from monetary perspective, few courses might be cheaper or expensive where you have a fairly good chance of getting admissions. Also, if you’re a last minute aspirant, it would be really good idea to take a gap year. You can utilise this gap year in opting for some form of paid or unpaid internship or volunteering work or pick up some new skills, projects, travel to a new country, experience a new culture which adds value to your overall profile. Instead of rushing through the applications, you can research and plan well for the next year intake.
 Ratings and Rankings are important but the buck doesn’t really stop there – University Rankings follow different methodologies. And in the midst of these, we sometimes ignore the validation of college and course. Do a thorough check for the accreditation and approvals when you are evaluating a university or course. Find the best fit program and university for you and not the best ranked university or program. Take a holistic or rather 360 degree view of the rankings, ratings, professors, alumni network, climate of the city, family support in countries abroad. Don’t over prioritise the college ranking while short listing a course.
 Ace the test scores but do not be bogged down with not-so-good scores – If the first attempt GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/SAT score is not good, don’t get bogged down and please consider taking the test again. The universities consider the best score while evaluating your applications. While these scores are important, they are not everything. Universities look beyond these scores as well. Your extra-curricular activities, leadership skills, publications, research reports are equally important.
 Give utmost importance to Statement of Purpose – A statement of purpose speaks a lot more about yourself. It is given a lot of weightage. A SOP speaks about what you are, what you have become, what you want to do, where you want to go and how the university will help you achieve this. The connecting of dots is very crucial and critical to convey the essence of you. It indicates how well organized are your thoughts and plans. Downloading generic SOPs is the deadliest mistake you’re doing. Some universities also conduct interviews to assess the value a student will bring to the university or the relevant community and how the university will help you achieve the same. So, be authentic, be yourself, understand what you’re and that’s how you will stand out of crowd. Don’t give the safest answer. In order to stand out, portray yourself genuinely and don’t copy SOPs.
 Plan your finances well – You need to think about finances well ahead and not push it to the end moment. You should start planning financially while you’re applying. Do not delay because there might be last minute surprises and might de-rail your plan. Education loans are handy and extremely popular in western countries. In fact, each and every student takes a loan and they do not depend on their parent’s support to fund their college expenses. So, this is where, InCred will help you out. At InCred, even if you have your standardised test scores and a broad list of courses/universities where you’ve applied to, we look at your overall profile and help you get your finances in order. Even if you have not got an admit or your I20, you can still get a loan sanctioned.
Lastly, we reiterate the fact that though education is getting expensive, it is not an expense. Rather, your education is one of the biggest investments of your life. Lessons learnt inside and outside the class shape you as a person.
Don’t let finances thwart you. Cost of education is high but the cost of ignorance is even higher.
Writer: Sanjana Panicker, InCred