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Choosing a Graduate Business School Abroad

Graduate Business Degree Abroad: A Life-Changing Experience

Posted January 14, 2020 by Anastasia Sinegaeva - Graduate, Master's in Marketing - University of South Florida Muma College of Business

Making the decision to pursue a graduate degree is exciting and challenging at the same time. Everyone has their own reasons for continuing education. You have just graduated from college or university with your bachelor’s degree and now are considering graduate school. Maybe you are a full-time professional with several years of experience who has an aspiration to go back to school and advance and expand your career opportunities. It may be that you just want to drastically switch careers and enter a new field or industry. Whatever the motive is, you are starting a new chapter in your life.

As a first-year university student back in Russia, I did not think about graduate school, as I had no idea what I wanted to do and what career was right for me. Four years later, already a senior, I came to the realization that I wanted to continue my business education. I had a fixed idea of getting my master’s degree abroad. However, I knew nothing about the educational systems outside my country, the application process, how to decide on a school, and the deadlines required for admissions, among other things.

Having recently graduated with a master’s degree in marketing from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business, and I can say with confidence that going overseas to study was the best life decision I have made.

Given my own initial trepidations about leaving home to study, I would like to provide potential international applicants with tips on what to know before studying abroad, based on my experiences.

So, how do you choose the best business school abroad if there are hundreds of quality graduate programs all around the world?

First, determine your desired major or area of study. The most crucial factor is to find what you are passionate about and ready to give your all. Otherwise, you are going to spend your school years struggling to get through and questioning your choice.

Second, decide where you would love to study and narrow your choice down to one or two countries. It is always useful to look into the institution’s accreditation status, rankings, tuition costs and financial options, and even geographical factors. If you are concerned about tuition fees, do some research on the most affordable degrees. There are programs with low fees or no tuition at all, and some universities provide scholarships and grants that cover up to 100 percent of tuition costs.

Last but not least, find out what other international students have to say about their experiences. A lot of students share their own stories on social media and study abroad websites. Keep in mind that everyone’s story is different, so do not rely too much on the opinions of others, but instead pick some essential tips and important aspects applicable to your situation.

Most students seeking to study internationally are likely intimidated by the process of getting into a business school abroad. The key is to stay persistent and patient. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and support. And remember that you are never too old, and it is not too late to earn a degree. I have a couple of friends older than me who are hesitant to continue their education because of the age factor. I want to assure you that age is not a stumbling stone on the way to graduate education. Today, business schools are adapting by providing online and hybrid classes, programs for executives and CEOs, fast-track degrees, and graduate certificate options—there is a path for everyone.

From my own experience, one additional factor to consider in a decision to study abroad is culture shock. While studying internationally, you become immediately exposed to a new culture, foreign citizens, different laws and rules, and unique mentalities of those around you. Many people who are exposed to significant cultural differences for the first time experience the “shock” in a similar pattern. According to Oberg's cultural adjustment model, it goes through four stages: honeymoon or euphoria, frustration or negotiation, adjustment or understanding, and acceptance or adaptation. Finally, there is the independence stage when you start feeling like you’re at home; you’re comfortable and happy in the new environment you’re living in. All these things shape you as a person and make you stronger. The best advice I can give is to step out of your comfort zone and be open to new opportunities and experiences.

How does education abroad change you as a person?

I can say that going overseas changed the way I see and perceive the world. I became a global citizen, and it is not just about traveling to different places and meeting new people. It is experiencing the different cultures, people, and traditions, changing your perspectives and values, learning how to live and feel like home regardless of the continent or country you are in.

In the end, graduate education abroad enabled me to understand the businesses, markets, strategies, and people across cultures and borders. It prepared me to be a business leader of tomorrow and helped me develop a global mindset that I can use to make an impact wherever I go in the world. Finally, my international education developed my cultural awareness. Today I can say that I am ready to work in this rapidly changing and highly competitive business world.

Anastasia Sinegaeva graduated from the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business with a master's in marketing in December 2019.