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2018 International Education Week Essay Contest: Fourth-Place Runner-Up

Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | by WES Advisor

2018 International Education Week (IEW) Essay Contest 4th Place Runner-Up

To celebrate International Education Week (IEW) 2018, WES Advisor asked readers to send submissions to our annual essay contest.

Essay contest participants were instructed to write about their best piece of advice for prospective international students considering studying abroad in the U.S.

We received many excellent submissions and we would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest!

Congratulations to our four winners of IEW 2018: Anh Nguyen, Zenia Adiwijaya, Souvik Seal, and Vincent Igenoza.

Our fourth place runner-up’s essay is below, written by Vincent Igenoza. Vincent Igenoza, a Nigerian, is a language student at New York English Center in New York.


Studying abroad opens the door to many new opportunities. Through international study, you can acquire professional training, make new friends, and learn a foreign culture. However, this secular voyage is fraught with twists and turns. As a student in a foreign country myself, I have experienced cultural challenges, academic pressures, and financial worries. But my greatest problems have been financial.

I recommend that future international students be financially shrewd because a college education in the U.S. can be very expensive. I soon realized that even though I had saved up for school expenses like tuition, boarding, and textbooks, I was as broke as a church mouse!

Many students who have faced this hurdle have resorted to taking out student loans. Some recent graduates have even piled up student loans that reach $300,000! If you don’t make your student loan payments for nine months, you will go into default. And, if you have a federal student loan, this means that the federal government can seize your wages, tax refunds, and even Social Security checks until the loan is paid back. So, how can a prospective foreign student avoid accumulating excessive financial debt?

The good news is that there are several options available that a would-be international student can take to ease their financial obligation:

First, schools, states, and the federal government provide grants that are based on a student’s financial need or merit. Grants consist of money that issuing agencies give for specific goals. Just as with scholarships, grants do not require repayment. The received funds are used for school expenses like tuition, books, housing, and other costs associated with post-secondary education. These programs are managed by participating higher education institutions.

Second, many college and university campuses offer part-time jobs for eligible students. An international student can study and work at the same time, thereby helping to ease financial worries.

Finally, future international students can also avail themselves of thousands of public and private scholarships, if they qualify. How do you qualify for a scholarship? You can qualify for a scholarship by being a good student, an excellent basketball player, or having some other exceptional talent. A word of caution, however: There are many scholarship scams. Be very careful to avoid being bamboozled or swindled.

In conclusion, it is inevitable that international students in a foreign country will experience academic vicissitudes. The most daunting challenges I have faced, however, have been financial. My advice: Plan to take full advantage of student loans, part-time jobs, and scholarships. A Tanzanian proverb says: I pointed out to you the stars and all you saw was the tip of my finger. Remembering this wise counsel will help you avoid many headaches.


Congratulations again to our 2018 IEW essay contest winners, and thank you to everyone who participated!

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WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.