So, you have figured out that you wanted to study abroad, learned about all the requirements and took all the tests, such as GMAT or GRE, required for your school application. Great! It sounds like you’re ready for the next step. You can just submit your applications, hope the admission committees see you as the star that you are and admit you to your dream school, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. In order to distinguish yourself from other candidates, you need to convince the admissions committee that you are an ideal fit for their school. In parallel, and this is what most people don’t realize, it is also extremely important to really know whether the school will be the ideal fit for YOU!
Pursuing your study abroad is a considerable investment in time and money. You owe it to yourself to make sure that you will thrive in your study. Your research must go well beyond looking at school’s rankings. Prospective students should also gather information on the school’s strengths, values, culture, and learning environment. School’s website and other publications can be great resources for this, but schools generally don’t publish their weaknesses. Also, people often don’t realize that reaching out to the students and alumni can complement their research and even provide more useful information that might not have come across on the school’s website.
Since the pool of Indonesian alumni is scarce, this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Most people rely on word of mouth to find alumni of their dream schools. Fortunately, there is now a more systematic way to help you accomplish this. Most people have heard of LinkedIn, but did not realize the potential it has in helping you do your research in finding the dream school.
Following are the step by step process in how you can maximize LinkedIn for your search:
- In case you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn profile. Make sure that it showcases your experience and accomplishments.
- To start your search, go to the search bar and select “Universities” from the drop down menu.
- Type in the name of the university that you wanted to research on which will redirect you to the school’s page.
- Select the ‘students and alumni’ section and filter down to ‘where they live’. This will give you a list of alumni and current students who reside or had lived in Indonesia.
- Using their LinkedIn profile, you can usually find their contact information (e.g. email, phone number) by clicking on the ‘Contact Info’ tab underneath their profiles. My recommendation would be to reach out over email and explain why you would be interested in talking to them. Don’t be shy! In my experience, most people would be more than happy to connect with you and share their experience.
- If you have any shared connections to the alumni/current student that you want to reach out to, you can ask your first degree contact to make an introduction.
Using the above techniques will help connect you to the right people who can provide insider tips and insights on your dream school! Not only that, this will also help you assess and verify whether what you thought as a ‘dream school’ is really one or not. Good luck with your search!