If you’re looking for schools in the US, you might consider things such as how far away from home the university/college is, if it’s in-state or out-of-state, whether it’s liberal arts or a focused program, class sizes, and how long it is until you decide a major.
If you’re looking for schools in the UK, many of these considering disappear, but new ones are added. Where the university is located is less important, since you’ll be flying there no matter what. You’ll need to decide on a program to enter, so you’ll be deciding a major now, not down the road. Therefore, liberal arts becomes less of a concern, since you’ll be on track in a specific course of study.
So the question becomes: what should you look for and how do you choose?
This is different for every student, so the first thing you need to do is decide on your course.
Course choice is difficult to change in the UK, so this is important. You’ll be with it for years, or you’ll have to break it to your family and friends that you’ll be switching, which is a costly endeavor. The course you choose should interest you and be something you can be happy with, and it should help lead to a career you’re interested in, as well, if you have one.
While you’re doing that, you should be deciding on some priorities. Here are some questions do ask yourself:
- Do you want the best of the best program or a less prestigious program that better fits your goals and interests?
- Are finances a concern?
- Are you looking for a program that is what you want to do even if it’s not considered the best for getting a job or are you looking for a program in an in-demand field?
- Is there a place you want to live near? Do you have a prefered country? What type of environment do you want: city, countryside, suburb?
- Do you want the professors in your program to be working on/have worked on topics you’re interested in?
You’ll be doing a lot of research, so don’t be afraid to make charts and take notes. The Complete University Guide lists five top considerations for choosing a school/course (http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/courses/choosing-a-course/choosing-a-university-course-applicants’-top-five-factors/).
- Course Content
- Overall Academic Reputation
- Graduate Employment Rates
- The Quality of the Academic Facilities
- Links Between the University and Employers
As you can see, these considerations revolve around the program and opportunities, including life after graduation, academic facilities, and contacts with businesses that offer opportunities similar to internships.
However, start with the basics (course content, including the type of assessments like essays or tests) and dig in from there. You can pick as many courses as options as you want and then weed them out using more criteria, like those mentioned above.
Make sure to visit the universities you’re interested in/the ones that gave you an offer if you can. Ask plenty of questions while you’re there. However, since this is for people that don’t live in the UK, you might not be able to visit, in which case you should find online opportunities to ask questions and see facilities.
Choosing a course and a school should not be easy, but also don’t get so caught up in research and comparing that you never make a decision. Give yourself a time limit, such as a couple weeks, to research, and then make a choice. You can apply to two or three programs, as well, and then choose once you hear back and do some more research.
You can never do too much research (within an understandable time frame).
Your Bonnie Celtophile,