How to create your study abroad timeline?

Pragya Sharma ✅

Pragya Sharma ✅

Co-Founder @ Ace My Prep & Study Abroad Expert


Before you can start planning your study abroad trip, you have to decide when to do it. When studying abroad will fit best depends on when the classes you need for your degree are offered and what your schedule looks like from semester to semester. If you want to take gen ed classes while you’re away, you’ll want to study abroad early in your college career (within the first couple of years). If you’re going to do an internship, volunteer, or student teaching, you’ll probably want to go toward the end of your four (or five) years. Your academic advisor is a good resource, so discuss your plans with them.

9-12 Months Out: Start thinking about studying abroad early, whether doing research online, talking to friends and classmates who have their own experiences, or going to study abroad fairs and events. Your school may offer programs on satellite campuses or have agreements with international universities, which could make the transfer of credits more seamless. Be sure to ask your advisor. Moreover, Plan out everything in advance. It’ll give you an excellent foundation to work from when you have to start filling in the details closer to your departure. But know that things could change. And if you are going abroad for a while, or if your program fills in a lot of the logistics for you, you certainly don’t have to start figuring things out this early.

8 Months Out: Filling out applications is the first concrete step to studying abroad. You can apply early if you want to get things set in stone. Most programs’ deadlines are four months before your departure, but many offer rolling admission. Most schools will have deadlines similar to universities at home since you still have to register for classes. Any internship or volunteer opportunities will have to connect you with an employer once you apply to the program, so turning in applications the semester before you want to go is a good benchmark. Moreover, this is the correct time period to apply for visas.

4 Months Out: Now that you’ve sent in your applications, applied for a passport, and filed all the essential paperwork, it’s time to start financing your experience. In truth, you can apply for scholarships throughout the research, planning, and application process. Deadlines for the plethora of scholarships will vary so much that it’s difficult to put a hard-and-fast rule on this one. But many study abroad scholarships are similar to those applicable to your home university, so deadlines are often around a semester ahead of time. So if that’s where this step lands for you: great, if not, you can get applications in early if you want to get this process out of the way, but it may be worth keeping an eye out for new scholarships that pop up later in the process.
    3 Months Out: Your flights will probably be your most significant expenses next to housing and tuition costs. And they can get even more expensive if you wait too long to buy them. Start researching early with sites like Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Kayak to compare prices and times.
      1 Week Before: Your plans are set, logistics arranged, and flights booked—the most challenging part is behind you, and one of the most remarkable experiences you’ll ever have lies ahead. All that’s left to do is pack. This step is pretty self-explanatory but comes with a few addendums. In your last weeks of planning, you might consider buying all the little things you want specifically for traveling. Because you’re likely only taking a suitcase or two, don’t load yourself with stuff. 

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