International Students: Do This Homework First

When Arpan Jolly arrived at Sheridan College in Oakville, he wasn’t sure how his stint as a foreign student would play out. Jolly had enrolled in Sheridan’s flagship Animation and Arts program, well-regarded not only in Canada but also in his native India.

Although fluent in English, his biggest fear was feeling out of place and, in his own words, “sticking out like a sore thumb,” in what he anticipated would be a sea of ‘white’ Canadians.

Arriving at the college’s Trafalgar campus, his doubts evaporated, “I was stunned to see so many people like me, by that I mean brown, around the campus. Just the diversity in the student body on campus put me at ease.”

Canadian colleges and universities have a reputation of imparting a high quality education which is not easily available in some other countries. As a result, more than 90,000 students come to study in Canada every year, several thousand more coming with the specific task of learning either English or French.

In addition to adding a rich cultural texture to the classrooms, international students bring income and immigration into Canada. The fee structure for international students is higher than local students, making them a source of revenue for the secondary or post-secondary institutions who accepts them.

Most students need a permit to study in Canada. It’s important to apply for a Study Permit before coming to Canada. A Canadian visa office in your home country can issue the permit, but only once you show your offer of admission - a letter of acceptance from an educational institution in Canada.

Once you’ve chosen a place to study, you will need to apply to that school, college or university. Every school has different rules for applying, but it is always best to apply early. Most international offices representing educational institutions suggest you apply to primary and secondary schools at least six months in advance. University and college students should apply at least one year before they want to start their studies.

It is best you contact the school where you want to study to learn how to apply. The school will give you the right application forms and be able to tell you about:

• the cost of applying
• tuition fees
• health insurance
• rent and how much it will cost to live in Canada
• language tests

Fill out the application form for the school of your choice, and submit it according to the instructions provided. If the school admits you as a student, they will send you a letter of acceptance. That’s the letter you’ll need, to apply for a Study Permit.

Canadian institutions have over 30,000 occupations to choose from, so one is likely right for you. Having a career goal will help you find direction. Websites of most colleges and universities in Canada have sections devoted to planning your career.

Also, the federal government sometimes allows for students to obtain work permits after they finish their studies. In many cases, they can even apply to become permanent residents of Canada. They can apply for immigration to Canada while living and working here.

Fayyaz Walana, who works as a Recruitment and Employment Specialist at Sheridan Centre for Internationally Trained Individuals shared with me some tips on how foreign students must prepare for study in Canada.

• Do your homework before you start. Education involves a huge investment in time and money. Some of the most productive years of your life will be spent in an educational institution, so be sure of what you want to do after you finish school.
• Assess your skills.
• Once you know what you can do, start generating possibilities. How can I put my skills to work?
• Research all options. Where is the best place where I can acquire and increase my skills?
• Narrow down the possibilities to avoid confusion.
• Set your goals from the start. Once you know what you want to achieve at the end of the course, chances are better that you will reach your goals successfully.
• Make a clear plan of action, to take you to your goals.


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Sheridan College English Proficiency Requirements:

All international students whose first language is not English must provide a successful TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score.

IMPORTANT CHANGE FOR SEPTEMBER 2012 APPLICATIONS:

Please be advised that effective September 2012, the IELTS requirement will be:
• for Diploma and Certificate programs 6.0 overall band score with no Band below 5.5
• for Degree and Postgraduate programs 6.5 overall band score with no Band below 6.0

Students applying for admissions effective September 2012, or who have their admissions deferred from January/May 2012 to September 2012 will be required to have their IELTS minimum band requirements met as outlined above. These changes do not apply to students who submit their TOEFL test results to meet minimum scoring requirements.

Canadian Newcomer Issue 44