The 411: My Journey to Nottingham

In my last post, I gave some tips to starting your search for a postgraduate degree program in England.  For some, even starting a list may seem daunting, so I have a pre-application treat for you!  I am posting my very own process! Use it, abuse it, do whatever you wish.  My wish is that seeing the finished product will help get you started!  So here it is, in all its glory:

Step 1: Potential Choices

Roehampton
Cambridge
UEA
Essex
King’s College London
University College London
Queen Mary, University of London
Oxford
Southhampton
Kent
Sussex
Reading
Royal Holloway, University of London
Nottingham
Leicester

Step 2: Decide What is Important to You

Location: East Midlands, East England, London, South East
Student:Staff Ratio: smaller classroom setting
Program: Stylistics, Literature (preferably 19th century)
Green Campus: Yes
Atmosphere: Strong sense of community, Slightly artsy

Step 3: Eliminate Through Preliminary Research

Essex:
Ranking: 39
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £13,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Low/Med
M-F: 50:50
Green: Average

King’s College London
Ranking: 19
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £16,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Average
M-F: 40:60
Green: Average

Oxford
Ranking: 2
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £16,000
Funding: Limited
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 55:45
Green: Low/Med

  • Early Modern Studies
  • Medieval Literature
  • Eighteenth-century Literature
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
  • American Literature
  • English Language and Linguistics
  • Romanticism
  • Nineteenth Century and the Fin de Siècle
  • Critical Theory
  • Gender Studies
  • Film Studies

Kent
Ranking: 28
Admissions Requirement: 2ii or higher
Cost: £12,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 48:52
Green: Average

  • Creative Writing
  • Dickens and Victorian Culture
  • Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • English and American Literature
  • Linguistics
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • The Contemporary

Sussex
Ranking: 31
Admissions Requirement: 2ii or higher
Cost: £13,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 45:55
Green: Average

Royal Holloway, University of London
Ranking: 30
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £12,500
Funding: Limited
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 44:56
Green: Low/Med

Nottingham
Ranking: 24
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £13,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 49:51
Green: Average

Leicester
Ranking: 16
Admissions Requirement: 2i or higher
Cost: £12,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 49:51
Green: Low/Med

Step 4: Pick Top 5

Royal Holloway
Cambridge
Leicester
Nottingham
Kent

+1 Safety: Essex

Step 5: Have Non-UK Backups

University of Toronto:
Ranking: 1
Admissions Requirement: 3.3 GPA or higher
Cost: $18,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Average
M:F: 44:56
Green: Average

  • General English Literature MA — Select course of study

UBC:
Ranking: 3
Admissions Requirement: 3.3 GPA or higher
Cost: $8,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Low
M:F: 46:54
Green: Very high

  • General English Literature MA — Select course of study

Step 6: Apply and Cross Your Fingers

Step 7: Apply for Every Scholarship You Possibly Can

– Marshall Scholarship – Full 1 year (due Oct 1st)

– Butex Scholarship – £500 (available to apply end of Sept)

– Erasmus???

– Fulbright Grant – Full 1 year (due Oct 1st)

– Rhodes scholarship – Full 1 year (due Oct 1st)

So there you have it! My journey led me to Nottingham, and once my MA was completed, onwards to UEA.  Was the process long?  Yes. It was also more than worth the time and effort I put into the decision.  Nottingham, as a top 1% world university, has given me many opportunities, and I got to work with one of the leaders of my field (literary linguistics).  I can only hope you are all as lucky as I have been!

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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!

You Can’t Afford NOT To Go

The thought of studying abroad has always been in the back of your mind, but you don’t think that you can ever afford to go.  And this is where I tell you that you are wrong.  Financing is the factor that holds most prospective international students back from living their dream, but in all actuality, spending a semester abroad costs the equivalent of a semester at home.  Once you have picked your jaw off the floor and stopped rolling your eyes in disbelief, check out these figures:

Now let’s look at this a little more closely.  We’ll use my home undergraduate university as an example.  The tuition and student fees I paid as an in-state student was $3,700.00 per semester.  Standard housing tacks on another $3,425.00 (per semester), and the average meal plan costs about $2,195.00 (per semester).  These three fees add up to a whopping $9,320 (and that is not even including textbooks).  How do you pay for this extraordinary fees?  Most students finance college with a mix of financial aid, personal loans, scholarships, and personal funds.

Now let’s look at a university in England.  International student fees are much higher than home fees. At the University of East Anglia, the fee for a full year is £12,300 (about $19900).  On campus standard accommodation costs £76.93 per week (about $124), and there are no meal plans offered.  This means that the university requires £16,300 (about $26,348 per year).  So how can you afford to study abroad with all of these absurd costs?

Most US programs have partnerships with locations abroad, cutting the cost of tuition and fees, and sometimes arranging housing.  For example, my home university (a SUNY school) has arranged for students to pay home tuition fees rather than the international student tuition cost.  And since you will not be on campus for the semester, home universities normally reduce student fees as well (cutting the cost of the tuition and fees from $3,700 to $3,120).  So instead of a $19,900 international student tuition fee, you are looking at a reduced home student fee of about $3,200.  Factor in housing and the elimination of exorbitant meal plan cost, and you are looking at the total cost of studying abroad for one semester being a measly  $5,928.

Even once the additional trip costs are added onto the bill the cost of studying abroad ends up being surprisingly inexpensive.  Not having a meal plan saves big bucks.  I spent about $50 every two weeks on groceries (as opposed to the $135 every week my home campus had me paying for the cheapest meal plan offered).  Health insurance, a necessity while traveling, is free as long as your company covers international trips.  MedEx, a required service that covers emergency security and political evacuations, is $30, and though the program fee varies, it is usually about $500.  Airfare will be the second most expensive fee for your study abroad experience, averaging at about $900 for round trip tickets (at least to London).  After adding up all the stray numbers, you are looking at an entire semester studying in a foreign country for only $8,000.  No, I am not joking.

And financial aid may still be applied to study abroad programs.  Personal loans may still be taken out.  Scholarship opportunities actually increase because you are now a valid applicant for international awards.  And don’t forget the power of family and friend fundraising through sites like GoFundMe and IndieGoGo.

So next time you think “Oh, I can’t afford to study abroad” try again.  You can afford it.  The average home tuition fee is between $10,000 and $30,000.  With the partnerships between international and American universities, studying abroad can end up costing the same, or sometimes even less, than a semester at home due to reduced student fees and the opportunity to buy your own groceries.  So no more excuses.    Go fill out those applications and start planning your trip.  You won’t regret it.

Spotlight: University of Nottingham

. UoN Postgraduate Spotlight .

Ranking: 24
Admissions Requirement: 2:1 or higher
Cost: £13,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 49:51
Green: Average

English MA Programs:

Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching MA
Applied Linguistics MA
Communication and Entrepreneurship MSc
Creative Writing MA
English and American Studies MA
English Literature MA
English Studies MA
English Studies PGDip
Literary Linguistics MA
Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies MA

Research Opportunities:

Centre for Regional Literature and Culture
Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics
Institute for Name Studies
Centre for the Study of the Viking Age (CSVA)

Things to Do:

Galleries of Justice (interactive 14th century crime and punishment museum) + City of Caves (Joint Ticket: £9.75
Nottingham Castle (£5.50 for castle’s museum, art gallery, and Brewhouse Yard museum), Newark Castle, Belvoir Castle
Creswell Crags (£2)
Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood’s home)
Green’s Windmill
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (England’s oldest pub)
D.H. Lawrence’s birthplace

NottinghamMontageSkyline

Choosing A Uni

As an international student, your time abroad should be based on several factors: where you want to be located, how much money you are willing to spend, student life, academic credibility. This quick guide will help you get started with the difficult decision of choosing a university.

Location:

There are twelve regions in the UK to consider when selecting a place to study, nine of which are in England.  So start thinking: Do you want to be near the sea?  How close to London do you want to be?  Is England the country for you?


Finances:

Most universities in the UK are extremely affordable, but prices for international or non-EU students can get pricey.  Just remember, since you are studying abroad it is likely your college (or a partner college) has an arrangement set up to decrease the cost.  For example, you might be required to pay tuition and fees to your home campus, and in return you pay housing to the school abroad.  Also keep in mind that there are dozens of scholarships designated for students who wish to study abroad.  Take advantage of any free money you can get your hands on!

Student Life:

Just like at your home university, you are going to want clubs to join and events to attend on campus.  If there is a society you are in and would like to continue while on your semester (or year) abroad, check the prospective school’s website to check they have the club you are interested in.  Or, better yet, join a new group!  There is no better time to try something new than while abroad.

Prestige:

One thing many students think about is the credibility and ranking of the university they are applying to.  This is when online research will really come in handy.  Sites like The Complete University Guide offer a comprehensive look into schools in the United Kingdom, providing information on everything from teacher-student ratios to how green the campus is.