Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Overall Application Process

If you're new, please read this post first: Initial Steps to Studying Abroad and/or watch this video: How to Study Abroad: Introduction and Options

Okay, so now you know roughly how to study abroad, what your different options are and how to pick a list of host placement preferences. It's probably a good idea then to discuss the actual application steps. Below, please take a look at the different processes required of you to enrol on the Study Abroad Experience and I wish you the very best of luck in your application.

As previously, this post will concentrate on ISEP and Bilateral Exchanges only (as I have more personal experience in these than I do for WB5004).

All the love.

Things to do Before you Apply

  1. Contact the Study Abroad Office via email.
    This is to acquire a detailed document describing the different options available to you and should have been done as step 1 of Choosing Where to Study.
  2. Attend an initial Group Presentation/Informational Evening.
    These will be staged throughout the year in with specific dates provided to you from the Study Abroad Office, probably in reply to the above email you'll have sent. It is possible to apply before attending one of these, but you must attend one before the end of your application cycle, as they are generally designed to help you make your final choices. At this stage, you will also find out about the Student Finance and any bursaries available.
"Listen to what I have to say, young one."

Initial Application

  1. Submit a 250 word statement as to why you would like to study abroad.This should be submitted via email to the Study Abroad Office. At this stage, your grades will be evaluated, along with your statement. It may be important to note here, that although you do have a minimum requirement of 55% in your first year, a lot more rides on your 250 word statement and therefore you should be as passionate as you can. It is also important to note that spaces for appointments are allocated on a first come first serve basis, so submit your statement ASAP!

  2. Attend an interview with the Study Abroad Tutor.
    This interview will assess your suitability for an exchange (as you will automatically become an Ambassador for the University of Chester when on exchange) so be positive, polite and above all, ready to go abroad. You will need to have this interview by November 8th, 2015 if you want to study abroad in the 2016/17 cycle. If you are looking at this in the future, your best bet is to check this date during Step 1 of this list.
  3. You should receive the outcome within 3-5 days of having the interview.
    If you have been successful, you will be sent a "To-do List" and a University of Chester application pack. At this stage, if you have not done so already, you should attend one of the previously mentioned Group Meetings/Information Evenings.

This is my 'yes-you-want-to-hire-me' smile!

Second Stage of Application

  1. Complete stages 1-3 of the To-do List.
    Once the three stages are signed off, you will be offered a second appointment with the Study Abroad Coordinator. You need to complete these stages as soon as possible. For the 2016/17 cycle, the final deadline to meet with the Study Abroad Coordinator is December 15th, 2015.

    As far as I know, stages 1-3 are as follows:
    1. Acquire a reference from your head of department.
    2. Acquire a reference from your Personal Academic Tutor or PAT.
    3. Confirm that you have registered onto a 4 year programme and give the Study Abroad Office your MAS code; obviously this is different if you are doing this as your second year.

    Please give at least two weeks' notice to acquire your references and if your course doesn't have a four year option, get in touch with the Study Abroad Office ASAP.
  2. Attend a meeting with the Study Abroad Coordinator.
    You should come prepared to this with all of the information you have collected about your chosen destinations (or that in which you acquired whilst completing the 7 steps of Choosing Where to Study) as the Study Abroad Coordinator can only assist you in your application, not do it for you. This appointment will be approximately be 45 minutes long and will provide further guidance needed on your final application. For the 2016/17 cycle, the final deadline for this meeting will be November 15th, 2015.
  3. Complete your Final Application form and submit it.
    For the sake of easy-reading, I will make a post about this later, separately and in detail. For now though, know that you need to complete this in your own time and that it will be assessed by the University of Chester before finally being submitted to your chosen host institutions. For the 2016/17 cycle, the final deadline for submission of your application is midnight on Sunday 29th November, 2015 via email. Your only job after that is to wait for the final decision. You should be notified via email on the final verdict within a week of the closing date. For the 2016/17 cycle, all successful applicants will be notified by December 6th, 2015Unfortunately, because of the government and various other policies, you will have to re-write (or at least copy and paste your initial application) into a separate and new host-specific application (once the University of Chester accept the first one of course). More on this topic in a separate post though!
Me after submitting my application - aaaaah!

Once your Application has been Approved:

  1. Await on the Host Institutions decision.
    Although you are now through to the final stage of the application, you are still not guaranteed an exchange experience. This is because the final decision is not Chester's but the host institutions itself. The final decision on where you will end up can therefore take up to 12 weeks from the ISEP January deadline. You may, at this stage, contact the Study Abroad Office for updates but you will not be offered another appointment with the coordinator until your final placement has been confirmed with the host institution.
  2. Pay your Exchange Fee.
    There is a £250 exchange fee which must be paid, for the 2016/17 cycle, by January 31st, 2016. Luckily however, you do not need to pay this until your application has been sent to the host institution, so there is very little chance of this money being wasted. The Study Abroad Office will also contact you at this point if there are any other outstanding documents needed from you, for example, your passport details. 
Time to relax and daydream as you wait.

Upon receiving your Host Institutions Acceptance email:

  1.  Attend your second appointment with the Study Abroad Coordinator.
    You must book this within one week of receiving your acceptance email as delays at this stage can cost you money; you don't want to end up watching flight prices go up and up! This appointment will therefore give destination specific advice and help guide you through the process of visas and immunizations; my experience of which I will also post about later.
  2. Acquire your visa and start booking things.
    This will be specific to your host institution and I will be writing about these steps in far greater detail later on. It is important to note however, that the costs of these things can run up to about £500, all of which you need to be able to pay as, and when they come. Some of this can be claimed back later if you are entitled to a travel grant or any of the travel bursaries available so it would be a good idea to find out about these ASAP. This is also the time to double check with your placement as to when they want you to arrive and to think about what other plans you have. Do you want to travel around before returning home? Do you want to come home at Christmas? etc. etc. etc.
  3. Attend an Orientation Session with the Study Abroad Tutor.
    At this stage, there will is requisite pre-departure academic work to be completed and the Study Abroad Tutor will give you advice on how to deal with culture shock, academic difficulties and other strategies for staying safe whilst abroad. There will be a risk assessment that needs to be completed and a reflective process which the tutor will talk you through. You must complete this before departure.
Congratulations! You've made it through.
You're officially going to study abroad!

And just like I had to wait for my acceptance, I am going to leave you waiting on more information by ending this post here. I hope this helps you when it comes to your general application process and I wish you the best of luck with it! If you're still confused as to what the actual application looks like and what sort of things you have to submit; those are the topics I will cover in my next post!

Much love,

Lucy xxo

The next post in the series: Individual Applications

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