With the amount of options available to our students today it can be difficult to know where to start when choosing a University, especially when there is such variety between countries.
It is a challenging time, but also an exciting time for students, and as a school community we are all here to help. Here are some key points to consider as a family as you begin your search:
Go to a local University fair
This will give students a chance to speak directly with the staff of all the Universities they are considering, to find out more about the country that they are considering and to pick up a prospectus too.
We post all fairs that we are aware of on ManageBac in the messages section, and we highlight major fairs in our newsletters.
Country specific guidance for International Universities
If there is a central application that you use for all Universities in that country, visit their website, visit it for specific details on the application process and good advice that is specific to that country. Useful websites include:
- UK Universities: UCAS ucas.co.uk
- USA Universities: https://www.commonapp.org/ or http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/ or https://www.universalcollegeapp.com/colleges (Be warned, you will often be asked to supply additional things to individual universities and many universities require an individual application.
- Dutch Universities: https://student.sl-cloud.nl/ with https://www.studyinholland.co.uk/admissions_information.html giving helpful advice
Here students can narrow their search by finding which Universities actually offer their chosen course and also what each institution’s entry requirements are.
Visit the University’s website
More detailed course information including module details, the facilities on offer, and information about any work experience.
Research carefully, and use multiple sources to make sure you know the facts. Check university websites for official data, and student forums for a wider range of opinions. If you are using rating websites, like QS rankings, Times Higher Education, Guardian, be careful as to how they rank the University. Is this the ranking for your course? Does this include teaching or is it based on research conducted by the University?
Take every opportunity to visit University Campuses
Students really need to go to a University Open Day to experience what studying there might be like. This will give all of you the opportunity to look around the campus, facilities, accommodation, and meet with academic staff from the course faculty.
Try and visit a range of different types, in different countries if that is possible. This may be as simple as taking the train to Milan or Lugano or finding time during a vacation break. Many universities offer on-line virtual tours but there is nothing like being there in person. Students will discover what they like and don’t like about a campus and as such this will help in creating a short-list of key features to help narrow down their choices.
Once you have narrowed down to your favourite two Universities, visit them again if possible and spend as much time there as possible. There will be lots going on, so plan in advance, so you don’t miss anything. Talk to as many people as possible, visit the town or city as well as the university. If you can, bring someone along for a second opinion.
What are important factors that I need to consider?
A survey conducted by QS Enrolment Solutions, was the largest survey of international and EU students to find the most important decisions that they took in selecting a University. 67,172 students and 63 universities took part worldwide, producing responses from 28,020 prospective international students used in the report. They listed the most important factors as follows:
|Factors||% of respondents placing each item in their top five|
|It leads to my chosen career||74|
|The course offers high quality teaching||67|
|It has affordable tuition fee options||53|
|It has a high graduate employment rate||49|
|It has a good reputation||47|
|It is well-ranked||41|
|It includes a work placement||35|
|I can easily meet the entry requirements||34|
|It has good student satisfaction ratings||33|
|I will be studying with like-minded people||33|
|It has flexible hours and delivery||16|
|It was recommended to me||11|
Consider the course structure
Find out how you will be taught and assessed: does the course have a lot of exams, essays, or group work?
Consider the course content: what units will you be studying? What books are you reading? Do you have any choice about what you will be studying?
Here is a list of some good questions to get you thinking:
- Accommodation – where is it? Is it guaranteed?
- City-centre or country-side campus?
- Large or small University?
- Access to transportation?
- Ties to the local community?
- Access to sports and hobbies?
- Size of lectures?
- Support when you are struggling?
- Amount of contact with staff?
- Research opportunities?
- Leadership opportunities?
- Career counseling?
- Health and counseling programs?
- Helping when you first arrive?
Financial fit for the family & Scholarships
- What are the entry requirements?
- How do you apply?
- When are the deadlines?
Finally, listen to both your heart and your head
They might take you in different directions, but both have valid points to make. Often it can be worthwhile to start by going straight to what you’re passionate about, then starting to think carefully about that.
Be honest with yourself, any sort of degree is a big commitment, but studying abroad even more so. Make sure that this is something you want to do rather than something you feel you have to do. If you’re doing it because you want to, it will be easier to keep going through the tough times.