411 on PG UK

You’ve finished your undergraduate, want adventure, are thinking of continuing on to a new degree, are ready for the next step..  but where to start?

It is a daunting process, starting the search for a postgraduate degree program abroad.  I know because I have run the gauntlet myself, scouring the internet trying to find my ideal university, creeping through Facebook pictures of campuses, writing list upon list upon list of facts and figures.  If I didn’t find a strange pleasure in research and planning, I would have been completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that bombarded me at every click of my mouse.   So, for your comfort and ease my dear friends, I have created a series to help guide you on your search for your perfect program.

Start with Google

Yes, I know it sounds basic, but it works.  You know you want to study in England, so start with a simple search: “Top universities in England.”  The handy dandy internet should lead you to The Complete University Guide UK, a site that is the perfect stepping stone towards finding your new home.  Not only does it provide a comprehensive (and customizable) list of every university in England, it also offers lesser thought of statistics such as crime rates, student to staff ratios, and a Green score.

If you are not satisfied with the League Tables, check out another top hit, Top Universities.  The QS is a yearly publication which offers rankings for universities around the world, but also allows for a quick browse of what is on offer in each country.  Dreaming of London?  The website lists the world rankings of each of the capital’s institutions and links each to a short and sweet summary that spits facts about the student population, campus location, and recent investments.

Lists on Lists on Lists

Now, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I swear by it.  You cram your head full of information, but when it comes time to recall what universities offered what, you are at a loss.  Was it Kent that had the European partnerships, or Leicester?  Did Royal Holloway have three bars on campus, or was that UEA?  Writing it all down will save you a lot of stress.

What should you write down?  Well, this is up to you, but I recommend at least the following basics:
cost, potential programs, location, scholarship opportunities, ranking

Totally anal retentive like me?  Jot down these details as well:
entry requirements, student satisfaction ranking, Green score, number of clubs/societies, average class sizes, flexibility in choosing classes, age of university, distance from city centre, male/female ratio, number of international students, number of libraries, teaching/research standards

Another fun one to check out is past alumni!  Keep in mind, this is a lengthy process, but also keep in mind that starting a degree at a new university in a foreign country is an investment of time and money, so making sure you are completely happy with your selection is crucial.

Cut Back

You have your lists.  You have your lists about lists.  Now it is time to start to make some decisions.  By now, you should have a much firmer grasp of what you are looking for.  You have seen what you dislike about certain universities and realized what is a must through others.  The first step to eliminating the unwanted is choosing what is most important to you.  Don’t want to spend over £20,000 per year?  Cut all of the universities that go over that budget.  Want an institution that shares your environmental concerns?  Cut those that have weak Green scores.  Thinking you want to join the equestrian society?  Cut the ones that do not have horse friends.  Love the sea?  Cut the landlocked prisons.  Knowing what you want will quickly cut down your choices and should leave you with just a handful left to ponder over.

Apply

Luckily for you, most universities in the UK do not have application fees.  That means you can (and should) apply to multiple!  Leave nothing to chance, and have at least three applications submitted ahead of their deadlines.  Apply for any and all scholarships available to you as well (most of which will be listed on the institution’s International Student Office page).  Hopefully in a few weeks you will have both an offer and a hefty scholarship to help you make your final decision.

This is just a starting guide to get you started on your search, so make sure to keep posted for the 411 on PG UK!

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