What should you consider when deciding where to study? Choosing the right university and country for your studies is of vital importance. The university that you choose needs to be able to cover all your individual needs and meet your personal demands.
There are a number of factors to consider before you take the big step. Here is what you need to know so that you make sure you have made an informed decision:
#1 University Rankings
Studying at a highly ranked university will definitely be a great addition to your CV. Visit Unistats for UK and QS Top Universities to check world university rankings for the years 2014/15. These rankings allow you to compare universities worldwide with each other based on their academic and employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, international student and staff ratio.
However, what you need to be aware about university league tables is that the overall score does not apply for individual departments so it may be difficult to gather a specific perspective on the department’s reputation you are interested in. Thus, it’s better to check other criteria as well.
#2 University campus life and environment
As a university student, you want to be based within a friendly and supporting learning environment. Before choosing where to study it is important to check what the campus environment is like at the place you are interested in. Perhaps you could first find out what is available for you on the campus in regards to student support and services that can make your student life easier and productive. Ask a friend who is already studying there, join a discussion on social media groups/forums or check the official website of the university to get the information you need.
#3 Student Satisfaction
Another factor that is important in regards to choosing where to study is of course, student satisfaction. Each year, the National Student Survey releases results on students’ satisfaction based on their overall experience while studying at universities across the UK. Students are requested to express their opinion in regards to the quality of teaching methods, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources and personal development.
This provides the opportunity to previous students to give their opinions on what they liked about their time at the institution and what they feel needs to be improved. Likewise, the survey helps prospective students get valuable information in regards to choosing where they would like to study.
#4 Employment Stats
Before deciding the place, make sure that you check the employment stats for each university to get information on the destinations of leavers from higher education. For US, visit UCLA Career Center’s website to read the First Destination survey’s, and for UK visit the Higher Education Statistics Agency to check the latest employment statistics.
This will allow you to assess how likely are you to get a job when you leave university and how many years it might take you to secure a job in the field of your studies due to current job market trends and limitations.
#5 Cost of Living
Depending on where you want to study you may need to relocate by travelling to another country, so make sure that you consider all of the expenses involved in the process. Also, it would be helpful if you could estimate how much money you will need for each month including daily expenses such as bus, train or plane tickets, food and housing expenses. Check if the town centre is near the university and plan how you can make the most of your university experience without letting money confine your choices.
#6 Accommodation and surrounding areas
Search for available and affordable accommodation in the USA, Australia and UK, that’s in the university campus or town centre. This will make it easier for you to move around the town and university. If you choose to move away from home, perhaps the cheapest solution is living at university halls or private student halls, but you also have other options such as private or shared accommodation.
If you are not familiar with the area, make sure that you check if crime activity is high or not around the area where the university is located. Search for the town/country in Google to check what comes up and look for any sightseeing opportunities within the area.
#7 Match offered subjects with your interests
Did you know there are currently available BAs in Viking Studies and BScs in Disaster Management and Police Studies? Some universities will offer different course than others, so you need to find out what each university provides and compare them. This will help you match your interests and prospects with specific modules they offer and choose the ones that best suit your needs. You can do that by visiting the official website of each university or Bestcourse4me and UCAS for UK, and StudyLink for USA.
#8 Consider long term goals
When you are doing your research, don’t just search for an undergraduate degree; instead, check if there are any other opportunities for you at the university after completing your Bachelor’s degree. Even though that’s three or four years’ time away, it is important to think about the entire duration of your studies. This means considering available options for your Master’s degree or PhD and whether the university you choose offers both research and taught courses.
#9 University Facilities
Check if the university facilities are up-to-date or modern and equipped with new technologies. For example if you are interested in Music or Drama, make sure that there are facilities such as concert/performance halls and practice rooms. Likewise if you are interested in Engineering or Chemistry check if the university offers practical classes in labs. To ensure that the university offers these facilities why not visit the university yourself on their open days?
#10 Working Conditions
If you want to study abroad, perhaps it would be useful to get to know what the working conditions are in the country of your choice. Truth is, that your references from universities can promote you to organisations that are based in the same country much easier than they would if you returned back home. This way, you increase your chances of getting an internship with the company you had your student placement with after leaving university.
By considering these main points, you can ensure that the university you choose to study at willbe the best suited university for you and your future needs.