Vibha Kagzi

Studying abroad Gordian Knot for Indian students

WITH an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, she has also done courses at the University of California, Berkeley; the London School of Economics; and the Indian School of Business. The professional experience of our guest columnist spans finance, fashion, media and public relations. She has also worked in New York in asset management, helped establish a California-based hedge fund in India and is the founder and CEO of

By Vibha Kagzi

Studying abroad is like setting out on a voyage that holds many treasures to be discovered, but also throws up challenges. It is exciting when you think of the opportunities and unnerving when you consider the preparation.


The trick lies in effectively channelising your enthusiasm. The better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel and that will enhance your chances of success.

Here’s a snapshot of what you need to do before you embark on this journey:


Start early: Getting ready to study abroad starts long before you actually start filling the forms or board your flight.

Ideally your preparation should start three to four years prior to application to give you ample time to conduct your research, do your homework, build the appropriate profile, arrange your finances, and collate all the pertinent information

Build a holistic profile: Do not only focus on your academic achievements as universities abroad look at a number of characteristics when assessing you for admission.

For example, they value feats in non-scholastic areas like sports, music and dance, and evaluate your professional experience, leadership skills and community involvement.

You want to project yourself as a well-rounded individual who’s equally competent in studies as well as other areas

Gather all the required documents: With stress levels high and deadlines around the corner, it’s easy to forget an important document.

Generally, the standard application requirements are:
Application forms
Application Fees
Letter(s) of Recommendation(s)
Essay(s) or Statement of Purpose
Standardised Test Scores
Financial Aid/Proof of Funds (if required)
Interview Appointment (if required)

Studying abroad opens new doors as you are exposed to a broader world. You’ll be part of a world-class academic institution, interact with people from various corners of the world, attend lectures from Nobel laureates and industry stalwarts and more.

Studying abroad opens new doors as you are exposed to a broader world. You’ll be part of a world-class academic institution, interact with people from various corners of the world, attend lectures from Nobel laureates and industry stalwarts and more. The opportunities for personal and professional growth are incredible as you will:

Build a global network:From classmates to professors, on campus peers to internship mentors, you’ll have a wide periphery of acquaintances and close friends. You’ll have a broad base of international connections at such an early stage in your career. Your network will always provide you with updates from across the world, act as your point of reference, offer you valuable and specific guidance. It will also be a significant resource for amplifying your career prospects. You can seek partners or investors if you are on an entrepreneurial mission or have avid followers if you are spearheading a campaign.
Enhance job prospects: Employers across the world, in any job market, are looking for candidates with international exposure, a global mindset, cross-cultural awareness, greater collaborative skill and language proficiency. A study abroad experience will equip you with all these skills. At the job front, you’ll have an edge over others. When it comes to handling business on a global scale, recruiters would love to have someone who has been there and done that. Well, that would make you the perfect fit.

Boost your soft skills: The more exposure you get, the more evolved is your personality. And that’s where study abroad plays a significant role. It enhances your social skills by offering you a dynamic platform where you are constantly interacting, collaborating with eminent personalities and sharp minds. It is the ambience that works like magic in polishing your ability to communicate, co-habit, adapt and lead.

Where there are opportunities, there will be challenges. For study abroad, the challenge lies at the beginning of the journey. Your decision about choosing the right destination, college, course and a realistic programme will have a considerable impact on your overall experience abroad. Learn about the problems and their solutions.
Major/degree selection: Do not rush into a decision, or be baffled by the overwhelming number of options. Consider your interest, strengths and weaknesses, your academic inclination and passion. Keep in view what your goal and purpose are for choosing a certain stream. Avoid selecting a course because of the university. Rather, let the subject guide your decision in this regard.

College selection: Which colleges should I consider? Have at least six to eight institutions on your list of colleges and know them thoroughly from courses to faculty, extra-curricular facilities to scholarships. Start by scouring their websites for latest updates and developments.

Also connect with alumni and current students, seek guidance from your family and friends, attend college fairs in your city, take professional advice and if possible visit the campus.

Do not base your decision on rankings alone. With all relevant details, you’ll certainly secure a place in your dream college.

Financing: How do I arrange for sufficient funds? This area calls for a great deal of planning, so plan your finances early. Understand what your budget for an education abroad is, factoring in all the costs from tuition to room and board to transportation.

resources you can tap:
Personal finances: seek support from family, relatives and friends
Scholarships: understand what financial aid options your targeted colleges have. Usually foreign universities have special allowances for meritorious students as well as for those who need financial assistance.
Bank loans (if required): review the various loan options that different banks are offering, compare and take your decision.

Start early, do your due diligence, review, rework wherever necessary, but keep your cool. You can only work out if you are relaxed and composed. Approach every step meticulously, keep an open mind and you’ll have a smooth sail. All the best!