Making the decision to study abroad is never an easy one. There are so many factors at play for someone to decide to uproot their lives and move to a new country to essentially start from scratch. I would love to be poetic here but in a nutshell, I began my journey as an international student with more anxiety than excitement.
I moved to Canada from India to do my MBA at Schulich School of Business. The 2 years of Business-school changed my life for the better. It opened up my eyes to the whole world, I made friends for life and learned how to adapt and thrive in a completely different part of the world. Whatever doubts I had melted away over time.
Deciding which school to go to, was a different ball game. I spent hours on research looking for information about pretty much everything. What would be the right school for me? How much does it cost? Where would I live etc. The information I found had me constantly second-guessing if what I’m reading is correct and driving me to make the right decision. The information overload thanks to the internet can be daunting (It was for me)
I was willing to pay for this information and expertise to be accessible and I did, only to find the “consultant’“ pushing obscure schools I’ve never heard. It was frustrating, to say the least. Here I was with my own research asking for specific schools but kept being told this is unattainable.
I dug deeper and found out it was because these “consultants” get paid a hefty commission for referrals. To say I was livid is an understatement. I needed someone who is aligned with my goals, not someone who was keen to make money by gambling on my future.
A prospective student needs to research many things from the right school to the right programs to accommodation to job opportunities etc. They must first deal with outdated university websites (It’s 2021! Get a good UX designer to fix your websites!) and spend hours compiling information that they need to make a decision (cost, program duration, etc.) They have to attend roadshows to learn about the programs and speak to the admissions teams. Finding current students to talk to can be challenging. (The response rate from current students on LinkedIn is super low. I don’t blame the students, they’re busy with coursework)
Then comes the giant beast that is financing. A degree from a business school in Canada can set you back anywhere from $70k-$150k. That’s a lot of money by any standard, made worse when you factor currency rates. INR 1 crore+ is absolutely nuts but is the reality of the world! Very few people are privileged enough to have parents that can fund the whole thing. Enter an education loan (In India at 9-13% per annum) and the stakes have upped drastically.
If a consumer is to spend thousands of dollars anywhere, the kind of customer service they receive is stellar, then why do I have to work so hard to get basic information that I need to make a decision?
This is a problem that MUST be solved. For me this isn’t just about building a business, it’s about creating a movement. It’s a promise that I wanted to incorporate in the name itself. No matter what happens, we will make sure our incentives align with the student first.
StudentFirst is a platform and a labor of love. You can create a free account to access all the information for full-time master's degrees at business schools in Canada. We have created a dashboard that will help you source all the information you need and be able to manage your documentation all the way to submission time.
This is a letter and a promise to you, reader. No matter how much the scales remain tilted against the international student, we at StudentFirst will do everything in our power to tilt the scales in their favor. Being an international student is hard. We’ll do what it takes to make it a little easier.
If you believe in the StudentFirst mission and have insights, advice, and help to offer, I would love to chat!
— Shomik Roy
Founder & CEO