The best gift we can give our kids is education. The house, the farm, the car and the jewellery, they will buy on their own.
While Indian education is wonderful, abroad education has its own advantages. If an education abroad is what is right for your child, please send them. But there are lots of things to keep in mind before that.
The first one is the maturity level of your child. Going abroad means your child has to live totally on his/her own. Trust me, at times the fact that they have to do their own laundry can lead to a disastrous situation. So can sudden and complete freedom that they are not used to and cannot handle. Know how mature and responsible your child is and be realistic about it. It's not a bad idea, at times, to keep the kid close to home, let him finish a certain level of education, work a bit and then go abroad. Take a wise decision.
The cost of an abroad education is high and every family might not be prepared for it. There are limited scholarships available (part and full), which are a bit tough to get (not impossible). Besides that, the only options available are student loans or parents financing. In my view, this shouldn't be an overnight decision. Prepare for it from the time your child is in ninth grade. It's good if he/she gets a scholarship, if not, you are ready.
Get a good counsellor who understands what the child needs and is ready to work, both, with the parent and the child. The best source of finding one is the school network. Honestly, if you are in one of the schools-what-app-groups, you can get any information you want! Meet a few and then decide. It has to be the right fit.
What stream/course your child wants to study is equally important. This is where the Councellor will help with the ï¿½Aptitude Test' etc. But no matter what the advice is, give importance to what the child wants to study. Again, decide wisely. I personally feel it has to be the right mix of practicality and passion. I tell my kids to follow their dreams and their passion but work around it in a way that they can afford the lifestyle they desire.
The stream that your child chooses will decide the countries he should apply to. Another aspect that will help you choose the country is that all countries do not give work permits after studies and even if they do, it's for a limited time. If the child desires to work abroad after his studies, the countries being applied to have to be chosen accordingly.
Do not apply to too many universities. It costs money (approximately $75 each) and is a very tedious process. Sit with the councillor and shortlist a few (15 to 20 max), based on the course, rating of the course in that university, the child's academic capability, etc.
Focus on the quality of courses at the university and not just the university name. Look at the faculty and the job placement records.
Every country has a different set of tests that are required. Start the application process by the beginning of 11th grade. Also, the applying process is elaborate, so being early gives you a head start.
In the end, ask yourself- Are you ready to let your child go? If not, get yourself ready! Remember, the kid will be back only for holidays, that too in the first year. After that, it's going to be internships and summer jobs and training and the breaks will get shorter. You might do facetime/video-chat or visit them very often, but the nest will be empty. Your emotional state shouldn't come in the way of a child's future. Get a good set of friends, travel, revive the hobby you forgot about, learn something new. Now you have the time.
These kids are a part of us. We raised them. The bond between us can never break or weaken, but will get stronger.
In the end, trust your child and more than anything, trust your upbringing!
(Divya Singh Vishwanath, lifestyle blogger & stylist.)