How to Study Abroad in College

study aboard girlHigh school seniors who are researching colleges are smart to look at all that a school has to offer. Most students look at the specific study programs offered by a college, as well as its campus activities and various academic resources. Also, many students like to find out if a college offers opportunities to study abroad. College students can learn a lot by spending a semester or more living and studying in another country.

Consider some helpful information for students who want to know how to study abroad in college:

Conduct a Search for Colleges That Offer Students the Chance to Study Abroad
Fortunately, there are many opportunities for today’s college students who want to study abroad. High school seniors who are thinking about studying abroad, but are still unsure, should go ahead and apply to colleges that offer the option. That way, if they do decide to study abroad, they’re at a school that can make that happen.

Often, colleges that offer this study opportunity provide information on their website. Some schools create short videos that give students a quick look at their international programs. Student testimonials can also help prospective students decide whether to participate in the program.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep help students to apply to colleges that offer invaluable opportunities, including the chance to study abroad. We have inside knowledge regarding what college officials are looking for as they evaluate students’ applications, letters of recommendation, essays, and other materials.

Tips for Deciding on a Location
England, Ireland, Australia, China, Africa, and Italy are just a sampling of the places that college students go to study for a semester or more. With all of the possibilities, it can be difficult for a student to decide where they want to go. One tip is to think about whether they want to study in a country with English as its native language. Of course, this is a moot issue if a student is traveling to a country to learn and practice a foreign language. But if a student is not studying a foreign language, they may feel more at ease in an English-speaking country.

Living arrangements are another consideration. Some study programs require students to live with host families, while others require them to live in dormitories. Students should consider whether they would be comfortable with the specified living arrangements during their stay.

Another thing to consider is how far a student wants to travel away from home. Some students want to be able to travel home fairly quickly, while others want to go to more remote locations. Many of the answers to these questions depend on a student’s personal preferences.

Benefits of Studying Abroad in College
Taking courses while living in a foreign country allows students to experience different cultures. Many students sign up for college study abroad programs because they want to learn about the arts, cuisine, and customs of people living in a particular country.

Another benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to explore various interests that may lead to a future career. For example, a student who spends a semester studying in Kenya may feel inspired by seeing the various forms of wildlife there. As a result, the student might decide to pursue a career as a wildlife conservationist. And on a practical note, one of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is earning credits that count toward graduation.

When to Study Abroad in College
Some students who participate in study abroad travel to a foreign country during the regular school year, while others go during the summertime. The timing depends upon the study programs offered by a college. A student has to consider their own individual situation to determine the best time to study abroad. College students who participate in these programs are often willing to forgo their summer vacation or miss school activities during a semester so they can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

No matter where you choose to study, our team at Veritas Prep can help you get there. We provide students with assistance throughout the process of applying to college. We also have services for students who want to prep for the SAT. Our online SAT tutors teach students using first-rate study resources and test-taking strategies. Contact our Veritas Prep offices today and let us help you achieve your goal of attending college and earning a degree.

Do you need more help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How to Explain Work Gaps in Your MBA Applications

ChecklistIf you have a prolonged gap in activity – either at school or at work – on your resume, you probably already know that explaining it can be difficult. Being open and ready to address this “hole” in your profile with the Admissions Committee will greatly benefit your application. Let’s examine the two major ways you can tackle work and education gaps in your business school essays and interviews:

Be Open and Ready
Be prepared to answer questions from the Admissions Committee regarding your gap. Being ready to discuss your gap will allow you to be composed when asked about it during your interview. An honest demeanor will help keep the interview on the right track, while allowing you to explain the context of the gap. Addressing this openly in your essays also gives you the chance to take control of the message and show your character, personality, and purpose.  

Over the years, I have had successful clients who had gaps in their educational or professional history be admitted to top programs. Reasons for these gaps have ranged from choosing to take a break to explore other countries, to taking care of the family business, to recovering from illness. Being forthcoming about the reasons for these interruptions helped demonstrate their authenticity and made it easier for the Admissions Committee to appreciate their personal growth.

Add Another Dimension
Explaining the reason for your breaks will also allow the Admissions Committee to gain more insights about your personal life story and your priorities. For instance, an applicant who had to overcome personal issues to eventually complete his undergraduate degree reflected thoughtfully that his struggles at that key point allowed him to build resilience and empathy – the same qualities that have formed the foundation of his leadership principles. Communicated sincerely, a message like this will come across powerfully, especially when supported with the context of applicable leadership activities you may have taken on during, or after, your gap.

Another applicant had to take over the family business due to his father’s illness while he was still studying. Doing so helped shape his sense of responsibility at a young age, and his maturity served him well in taking on early leadership roles. Experiences such as these are attractive, as business schools look for applicants with strong leadership potential.

Additionally, your travels can be used to show your international motivation, openness to new experiences, and ability to relate to diverse cultures. Sharing your involvement with worthy organizations while you are on break will also give a peek into the causes you hold dear. Highlight this whenever possible, as it will show your personal enrichment and act as a unique addition to your profile.

To conclude, don’t be too secretive about your education or work gaps. Instead, use your gap as an opening to connect with the Admissions Committee on an even deeper level.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

How You Should Spend Your First Summer After College

Study on the BeachOkay, so you’ve just finished up your first year of college. It was (hopefully) awesome and you (hopefully) learned a lot, but now it’s time for summer. Glorious summer! Throughout middle and high school, summer vacation was always the peak of the year – a time to relax and enjoy the company of old friends without the incessant demands of school.

Now that you’re a college student, though, things can seem a little different. All of a sudden, you might feel pressure from your family, friends, or classmates to use your summer in a certain way. This often manifests itself in the form of pressure to further your career prospects via an internship, fellowship, or job shadowing.

While doing this may be important, it is not the only worthwhile way you can spend your first summer out of college. It is important to remember that it is your summer – not anyone else’s – so what you choose to do with it should be a reflection of the values that are important to you.

When you don’t let any narrative or stereotype limit what you feel you are “supposed” to do with your first summer, you will be more free to make the best choice available to you. There are 3 main ways that you can use this first summer, each of which have merits and drawbacks that I’ll explore below:

1) Summer Job
One classic way to pass the long summer hours is with a summer job. This can take many forms, such as scooping ice cream, being a camp counselor, working as a cashier, and much more. Businesses are always looking for young people to fill positions, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find some form of work.

These jobs may not pay high wages, but they can be a great source of income, both to chip away at outrageous college debts or to just have some fun money to spend during the summer. They will also add work experience to your resume, and give you real-world skills that can be valuable outside of just that specific job.

2) Internship
Even though the pressure to find elite internships is often excessive, internships can be a valuable use of your time in the summer. Internships can connect you with career opportunities, help you learn what jobs are of interest to you, and give you skills that might be valuable down the road. However, internships are often unpaid, meaning that doing one is likely a long-term, rather than a short-term, investment in yourself. There are some paid internships out there (Go get one if you can!), but these are a rarity.

If possible, combining an internship with a part-time summer job can be a good way to have the best of both worlds – gain career skills while also raising money – but this can sometimes take too much time out of your summer, a time when you should be able to decompress after the rigors of college rather than add to your stress level.

3) Travel and Relaxation
College students are in a unique position, in that even though they are close to the “real world,” they still can put off searching for careers, if only for a little while. One great way to use your youth is to travel with friends or family to see new places or revisit childhood destinations. You’ll meet friends from all over the world in college, and summer is a great time to really see where they come from.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can also use your summer to completely relax. Without homework or classes, you will have time to read books, go on adventures, and give your brain a well-deserved break. Although this won’t earn you money or directly prepare you for a career, it can help clear you head and put you in a good position to continue learning from, and enjoying, your college experience.

Each of these ways of spending your summer has different values and benefits, so there is no way to definitely rank which one is best. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer – anything you choose to do over your summer vacation can work out if you approach it with the right mindset.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep…

During the B-school admissions process and your career after you’ve earned your MBA you’re likely to rack up quite a few miles traveling, so it makes sense to get the most out of those miles through travel loyalty programs. Whether you’re a frequent flyer novice or PuddingGuy himself, here are a few tips that will help you get the most from your miles.

  1. Learn the art of the transfer: just because you earned miles or points on one program doesn’t mean you have to use them there. Sites like points.com or flyertalk.com have tools to tell you how to get the best transfer deal. For example, 5000 American Express Membership Rewards points transfer directly into 6500 Hilton HHonors points, but if you transfer those into an airline reward program (most have a 1:1 ration with Hilton), you can transfer the 5000 airline miles into Hilton at a 1:2 rate to net 10000 Hilton HHonors points!
  2. Mileage runs: most frequent flyer programs have elite tiers (Silver, Gold, Platinum, etc), with certain benefits given to elite members. The typical benefits include bonus miles earned (usually a multiple of actual miles flown), more flexibility when redeeming awards, and of course bragging rights in your circle of friends. Achieving elite status usually requires a certain number of miles flown per year. If you find yourself slightly short of the mileage requirement, it may be worth it to make a “mileage run” (a trip taken specifically to meet a mileage requirement) to make up the difference. If a roundtrip coast to coast flight can boost you to the next elite tier (or a roundtrip flight to visit a school on the opposite coast!), you should consider it if the mileage bonus in the next year is more than the cost of the flight.
  3. Intermediary programs: you may fly on Alaska Airlines exclusively, but does that mean you should get the Alaska Airlines Visa? Maybe not. Using what you learned about transferring miles and points, let’s say you did some research online and discovered a hotel loyalty program called Starwood Preferred Guest. You would also know that Starwood gives you a 5000 point bonus for every 20000 points you earn, which transfer 1:1 to any airline’s frequent flyer program. Even if you never stay in a Starwood-branded hotel (which you should, since they are so nice!), consider the Starwood Card from American Express because it is the fastest way to earn free flights, as strange as that sounds.

This is just a brief introduction to the art and science of travel loyalty programs but the possibilities are endless. Do your research and find the deals that make sense for you and give you the most bang for your buck…after all, it’s just plain good business sense!