AustraLearn is a resource every student considering studying abroad needs to check into.
The program, based in Denver, is a non-profit organization funded mostly by member universities in Australia and New Zealand for the sole purpose of attracting American and Canadian students to study in those countries.
The support they offer and the assistance is incredible for anyone considering studying abroad. We have been working with them for six months now and I continue to be amazed at the valuable assistance they provide.
First, let me say that for someone whose international journeys have been to just Mexico and Canada, the concept of arranging to move, for a year, to Australia was a bit daunting. As we began researching universities, there were so many other issues to consider. Where do we stay when we get there? How do we get a student visa? What medical tests do we have to have before we go? AustraLearn handles everything and makes the process seem easy. Or, at least as easy as getting into graduate school ever is.
When you first contact them, AustraLearn will help you find programs of study in Australia or New Zealand that mach your interests. They recommend the three programs that most closely match your interests and send out the brochures, applications and information packets.
Included in this packet of information is a list of schools that waive their application fee for students who apply through the AustraLearn program. That alone saved us $110 Australian and the nightmare of finding a bank in Southern Illinois to exchange American dollars for Australian dollars and then get us an international money order in Australian dollars.
It saved us about $80 and at least a day of bank headaches.
Then, there is the encouragement and the ease of the application. Instead of compiling the applications and sending them via international mail (there goes that expense again), students affiliated with AustraLearn send their application packets to Denver (much cheaper). Once the packet is complete, with portfolios and letters of recommendation and everything else, AustraLearn gets the packet to the universities overseas. No day at the post office fighting with international mail restrictions for me! Yeah!
Next, unfortunately came the waiting and they can’t help with that. My husband’s graduate school application went out in May. In August, he received an e-mail telling him when to expect the international phone call for the interview for the program. The time difference is 15 hours between here and Sydney, so calling the university with questions was pretty much not an option.
His phone interview was at 12:30 a.m. here on a Tuesday morning. There it was 3:30 p.m. the same day. Before the interview, AustraLearn staff sent e-mails of encouragement and notes about what to expect. Through the entire process they stayed in touch and offered additional information on a monthly basis on how to prepared for the move overseas.
Three weeks after his interview, AustraLearn sent him a note asking how the interview went and if he had heard anything. When he had to confess he hadn’t heard anything yet, they went to work again and within hours had a copy of his acceptance letter to forward to him. Then, their real work kicked in. AustraLearn helps coordinate the financial aid and the student visas. They explained the financial aid process in minute detail so that we could easily understand what to do next. They answered questions about living expenses and how much spending a year abroad would cost. They provided websites for finding student housing at the university and how to get from the airport at Sydney to the university at Wollongong.
The AustraLearn staff provided constant support and encouragement, making it feasible and easy to plan to move to Australia next February. Anyone considering studying abroad in Australia or New Zealand should check out their website. It’s like having our own personal college counselor there to walk you through the process and cheer you on as you go.
Now, the only thing left to do is to learn to say, ‘G’day, mate!”