When should I start exploring options? Ideally, you should start your research when your child enters grade 9. That gives you the time to understand the possibilities, the process and also how your child should prepare, should he/she wish to choose this path.
Are there any curricula which are better suited? Students from all Indian and International boards can apply. However, with more broad-based curricula that encourage exploration, international boards like the IB and IGCSE are more tailored than Indian boards for students wishing to pursue an undergrad degree outside India.
What is the best way to equip myself with information? In addition to the respective college/university websites, there are many other websites that will give you the basic information (please see box titled ‘Useful Websites’). It is really useful to also talk to parents of students who are doing their undergraduate studies abroad to understand why they chose this path, and what they did to get there. You and your child could also meet an education counsellor to help understand the process better and make a considered decision.
What are the steps in preparing for studying abroad? Contrary to what some people believe, all colleges abroad place a lot of importance on academic performance, especially the reputed ones. It is not true that because the US colleges, for example, take a holistic approach to selection, they do not emphasise academic performance. However, the expectations or cut-offs may vary depending on how selective a college is. Thus, whether your child chooses to study in India or wishes to go abroad, a consistent academic performance is essential.
Colleges in the US and Singapore also require that your child take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) test. The more competitive colleges also require SAT subject tests.
Usually, US colleges assess if they can provide an environment in which the student can thrive. They gauge the student’s fit through the many components of the application, including the various essays. The US has a large number of colleges that are quite diverse with regard to what they offer to prospective students — some are really large, while others are quite small; some are part of universities while others are not affiliated to any university and very often offer only undergraduate programmes. Another distinction is between public or state-funded schools vs. privately run ones. The culture, rigour and ambience can be very different across these colleges. So, students should evaluate all of these factors (attaching more importance to some) carefully while making their choices of where to apply.