Applying to Universities Abroad: Busting the Myths for Parents

Although separating from loved ones is never easier, the number of Bangladeshi parents encouraging their children to pursue higher education abroad seems to be on the rise.

But misconceptions among seniors regarding foreign universities are many, stemming from a lack of proper knowledge and awareness. This can lead to conflict at home, as the two generations have different opinions on job applications.

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As application season approaches, I’ve taken it upon myself to debunk some of these most common myths.

The higher the rank, the better

Sending your child abroad is quite expensive. Therefore, when investing in their child’s future, parents want them to receive the best possible education.

But sometimes well-meaning parents have the wrong ideas of what a world-class education should look like. They think that not being admitted to a top institution means you are doomed.

This superficial obsession with a few top universities is illogical, as rankings hardly reflect reality due to judgmental bias and even misinformation.

The truth is that many universities around the world offer exemplary facilities for students to thrive. Ultimately, applicants should choose institutions that match their interests instead of obsessing over rankings.

ECAs don’t matter

Bangladeshi public universities rely on admission tests as the sole measure to judge applicants. This leads many parents to believe that acceptance into a foreign university is solely determined by the number of A’s on your report card, viewing ECAs as a waste of time.

However, most foreign universities are looking for students who have well-rounded profiles. Nearly 200,000 students graduate top of their class each year at American high schools, but only 35% of Ivy League entrants are top of the class.

While academic achievement is important, admissions officers want applicants who stand out from their peers and pursue passions outside of the classroom.

The best universities bear all the costs for the most talented students

For funding, it is important to distinguish between grants and need-based aid. It should be noted that the eligibility criteria for funding are specific to each institution.

Scholarships are generally merit-based, awarded annually to applicants with the best profiles. However, not all universities offer scholarships.

On the other hand, need-based aid is only granted to applicants whose annual family income is below the threshold decided by the university. Even if you are eligible for aid, the total amount you will receive from your university will depend on your financial situation.

Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for need-based aid at many institutions.

To complicate matters further, some universities follow a “conscious need” policy. This means that colleges consider an applicant’s ability to afford tuition fees when deciding whether to make an offer of acceptance.

Granted, the application process isn’t perfect or easy, but the support of your parents during this crucial time can make all the difference.

To everyone applying to universities this year, good luck!


1. Forbes (November 1, 2020). 18 Rotten Lies About Ivy League Admissions That Could Kill Your Chances of Getting In

2. The New York Times (September 17, 2016). Why college rankings are a joke

3. Los Angeles Times (September 16, 2022). Is US News University Rankings a Joke?

Nahian is the friend who initiates group hugs. Find her at [email protected]