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England Bound

Well, it is about that time of year again: time for undergraduate seniors to panic and begin making decisions to regards to what graduate programs they will be applying to.  That is, undergraduate seniors who are not me.  That’s right, I have decided.  I am going back to England!  

After studying abroad last semester, I knew I was not done with the UK.  I found a home at UEA, and although I will not be reapplying to a program there, I will be staying in the area. 

So, for all of you who do not necessarily have your graduate plans figured out, I have some tips to share!

First off, know the lingo.  If you are planning on applying to a postgraduate program in England, you need to know what your marks are and what course you wish to study.  The UK does not use a GPA scale.  There grades are called a degree classification, and are as follows: first class honors, second class honors (upper second or 2:1), second class honors (lower second or 2:2), third class honors, or pass.  So what does this all mean?  Basically, to get into a postgraduate program you are going to need at least a high 2:2 (B-B+).  If you are looking to get into a decent university you should have a GPA of at least a 3.3.  When applying, you will also want to know what course you wish to study: Literature, Biochemistry, Psychology… and you will also need to know what type of degree you want to pursue: research or taught.  A taught degree is a normal classroom based degree, whereas a research degree involves an independent self study and project.  UK courses tend to be much more specific than US majors, so try to have a path in mind before committing to studying abroad.  I am applying to a few different courses, but am interested primarily in Literary Linguistics (Literature and the English Language).

Second step: make a list of your choices.  Go through and select all of the universities that sound interesting to you at first glance.  The Complete University Guide will be a very helpful tool when you are starting to look at universities in the UK, so make sure you utilize it.

Next, you are going to want to decide what is most important to you in a university.  Do you care about location?  What about the classroom size or male-female ratio?  Will you want a massive city and campus, or do you want an atmosphere of community?  I decided I wanted to stay near Norwich because I adore the area and enjoy the convenience of being so close to London and the sea.  I limited my search to the East Midlands, East England, London, and the South East.  I also decided that having a green campus and smaller classrooms was important to me.  The male-female ratio would be a factor I considered, but would not be a deciding element.  If the campus community was not friendly I would not consider the university as an option, and I also preferred to have an artsy atmosphere.

The next step will be to narrow down your choices.  I started with a list of fifteen different universities.  I researched each, and after I had listed the ranking, admissions requirement, cost, funding opportunities, crime levels, male:female ratio, green rating, and different courses that were offered in my field, I began to narrow down my options.  

You’re starting to zero in on exactly what you want in a university, and that is great!  It is time to select the five that you will be applying to.  My FF (final five)?: Essex, Nottingham, Kent, Royal Holloway, and Leicester.  I also decided to apply to Oxford just for kicks (I am highly aware that my chances of being accepted are .000001%, but at least I can say I tried!).  

So now what?  Make sure you have a few backup options in case you are not accepted into the programs of your choice.  I chose one school in Canada that I would apply to (University of British Columbia) and looked into programs where I could teach abroad for a year.  

Now, APPLY!  Cross your fingers and hope for the best.  While you wait, make sure you apply for scholarships and grants as well.  Although attending a postgraduate program in the UK is less expensive than the US, it is still a lot of money, and most universities require a deposit of several thousand pounds before they will provide you an official spot in the program.

Good luck, and maybe I will see you around! 🙂