Studying abroad: Elementary, Dear Watson


LEARNING is a lifetime activity, but being in school forever is not.

Studying is more of a destination, than the journey itself. You need to complete primary school to move on to secondary. That’s elementary, dear Watson.

And you need a high school diploma to move on to college or tertiary education.

Starting 2016, you would have a choice of pursuing a two-year post-secondary course (K10-12) and get ready to join the labor market. Or you could enroll in a college to get a bachelor, then a Masters or a PhD.

Each academic level offers a unique journey, but is related to the last one you completed. The destination is getting that diploma or degree and, if you need to pursue an occupation that requires licensure, then taking the specific board exam.

Then school ends.
You’re out of the academic incubation period: a newly hatched graduate theoretically ready to face the real world.

Teachers and administrators may treat you with gloved hands because you are a tuition-fee paying student. In the real world, you have to pay your dues. Without a viable network, or in the case of the Philippines – political connections – the playing field of employment is not level.

Level the playing field
Most graduates will have to accept entry-level jobs –even if they have college degrees. That’s a given. Moving up the career ladder will take years because (1) more than half a million graduates join the ranks of job-hunters every year and (2) getting promoted usually also requires you to get another degree while working because a Master’s or PhD is seen as a sure way of getting promoted.

But the employment playing field is still not level. Some can hover through the career humps because of connections. Without connections, your charge of enthusiasm and optimism will eventually run out.

Your parents as well as any other relatives who helped you out with your studies paid the price for your diploma, usually half a million pesos for a college degree. In some cases, such as for RN graduates, they still have to pay their way to chalk up hospital experience.

How to get out of this disconnect and have a fresh charge for your career and earning potential? Studying abroad is a most viable alternative. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK (in that order) offer the best alternatives. These countries roll out the red carpet for students.

As an international student in Canada or New Zealand you are authorized to work 20 hours a week while studying and to work full time when school is not in session including weekends. You will be earning more as a working student than a full-time working fresh graduate in the Philippines.

How to get started
Canada is the most aggressive country attracting international students. It even incorporated an education plan as part of its development goals.

Pick a course from a post-secondary school – including community colleges — that is a designated learning institution (DLI) by the Canadian government (federal and provincial). The school should have a designated number. To look for a DLI, click here –

Check out the available academic programs for international students: verify the course content, intake (enrollment period) And the tuition or course fees as well as admission requirements. Most school have online assessment. You could also download the current academic calendar or student guide to help out in choosing a program or course.

If you want to have your previous academic record assessed as a way of shortening a period of an undergraduate course, most schools allow you to do so. Hence, a 3 or 4 year academic program could be shortened to 2 years or less.

After selecting the course that you intend to pursue, complete the application form (most schools have online services). Upon completion of the requirements – including a nominal non-refundable application fee – the DLI would issue a Letter of Acceptance (LOA).

The LOA would indicate the academic program you had been accepted for, the duration and whether a partial or full payment of course fees had been made. You are now ready to submit your application for a Study Permit with the Canadian Embassy.

Work while studying
As an international student pursuing full course of studies, you can work without the need for a work permit. Since June 2014, international students are authorized to work as part of their study permit. You can work on or off-campus if you are enrolled in a Designated Learning Institution.

Currently, public and private post-secondary institutions in Quebec allow you to work on-campus. Canadian private institutions authorized by provincial statute ro confer degrees also would allow you to work on-campus without obtaining a separate work permit.

There are more jobs off campus. And off-campus jobs allow you to work with employers who could be your potential sponsors after your one or two year post-secondary diploma.

However, you would need a Social Insurance Number from Service Canada.

On-The-Job Training (OJT)
For some academic programs, work experience is part of the curriculum. Foreign students who wish to participate in a co-op or internship program must apply for a work permit as well as a study permit.

Canada allows international students to pursue permanent residency after completing their course. Graduates are allowed to stay in Canada after graduation and apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). After working for a year the graduate student would be eligible to apply for permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class.

The work permit under the PGWPP may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years.

How much would you earn in Canada after graduation?
Statistics Canada reported early this year that the average weekly pay of Canadians is $928.00 or approximately P41,000.00; P164,000.00 a month or almost P2M a year.

Saskatchewan and Alberta showed the biggest increases in salaries, followed by Ontario and British Columbia. Quebec was the only province with declining wages. The average pay is $831 a week or $43,200 annually.

That’s still P1.9M equivalent in the Philippines.

How many one-year local employment entrants stand to earn that much in a not-so-level playing field?

After doing the math, do your homework and determine if studying abroad is a viable option for you in the next 2-3 years.


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