What to Expect from a Foreign Degree?

A foreign degree is often sold to aspiring students as the best thing that could happen to them. Even in this economy, where every dollar is precious, we see students eagerly looking forward to spending thousands of them on a degree abroad, thinking that it will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Some of the expectations associated with a foreign education are indeed realistic, but others not quite so. A degree earned abroad can serve you very well in life if you know how to make that happen. Let’s look at what to expect from a foreign degree.

study abroad and gain a foreign degree can be the big milestone in your student life today

It will broaden your horizons

You will be a better informed and a more rounded individual than you were before you undertook foreign studies, that is indisputable.

When you study abroad, you are not studying just for your degree. You become, or you should become, a student of the culture that surrounds you. And you will be thankful for it, too. There is something about removing oneself from a familiar situation and putting ourselves into a completely alien one, where everything – the academic style, the culture, the food, the ethos – is new. It just makes you a smarter person. And that smartness will help you the rest of your life.

It may not pay off straightaway

Not everybody gets employed in the sector they wanted to or in the field they studied for. Heartbreaking but true. We have plenty of engineers who gained their technical education abroad but are now instead working for tech start-ups, marketing firms, banks, etc. Fields that have nothing to do with what they studied at university.

That’s just the way it is. The economic uncertainties, depending on which part of the world you are in, will also need to be taken into consideration when you are thinking of studying abroad. If you accept the idea that your foreign degree may not turn out to be of much use straightaway, you will do yourself a big favour.

But it WILL pay off in the future

A degree is tangible; the skills that you acquire while studying for it may not be so.

Most good universities require students to participate in group assignments, which require you to learn to think as a group. It is your chance to become a team player, take the initiative, and actively help your team reach its goals. It is also an opportunity for you to step in and diffuse tension among your team members for the sake of your team goals. If your team does not deliver on time, for whatever reasons, all of you stand to lose important credits.

If, as an international student, you make the most of the above mentioned opportunities, how do you think it will help you?

It may help you become a better team player and more tolerant of different personalities and points of view. It may also teach you the importance of meeting collective goals and respecting deadlines.

It may also not teach you any of the above and you may resort to finding short cuts to clear your semester.

If, however, you take up the challenge and do things the right way, the ability to deal with team members to achieve a larger goal will come in very useful in your professional life, which is usually all about teams and goals and deadlines.

The expertise gained while studying for your subject at the university will also pay off in a few years’ time when you are entrusted with more responsibility and where higher knowledge and thinking come into play. So be patient.

It may not lead to permanent residence

If your sole purpose of studying abroad is to gain permanent residence via a student visa, then I have some bad news for you. It may not happen. Yes, it can happen and it does happen, but not always. Again, no one has any control over economic uncertainties and changing immigration rules. So that is also something you should keep in mind.

It’s much more helpful to think in terms of building a fantastic career as a knowledgeable professional will be in demand everywhere, and hence can be successful wherever he or she may be.

Don’t expect it to bail you out

If you think going to a certain university in a certain country and studying there for a certain degree alone will set you on the right path for the rest of your life, I’m afraid a bit of a reality check is in order.

Your degree, depending on where you got it and your own skill sets, will help you to an extent. It won’t set you up for life, however. At the end of the day, the professional space is competitive and taxing. You will need a number of skills to make through and keep going. A degree alone may not be all that is required.

You should be able to sell your degree to employers.

What do we mean by that?

Simply that don’t expect your MBA certificate to speak for itself in a job interview. How you conduct yourself, and how you convey to a prospective employer your ability to translate the expertise gained while studying into professionalism at work, will be of paramount importance.

That is what will convince them to hire you.


How much a foreign degree helps you depends on how you are able to make it work for you, and that will be an ongoing process. More than the paper on which it is printed, it’s the knowledge and the skills you gained while studying for your qualification that matter. And that won’t change even after you gain employment. Continuous success is always about applying yourself, keeping on learning, and being very professional. If you have these traits along with your degree, you can expect to go far.

Manish Phillip, a Senior Advisor at Espire Education has explored new destinations for Indian students to study abroad, and has worked on education promotional strategies with a number of foreign institutions in various countries.

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