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Should I Pursue A Bachelor's Degree In The Uk Instead Of The Us?

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nverm408 | 00:20 Thu 24th Jun 2021 | Jobs & Education
6 Answers
(For context: I'm 16F and live in the US) So I'm in 12th grade and university applications are starting. I've narrowed down my college list to 10 colleges in the US, but I've been thinking of studying outside the US (specifically the UK) for my bachelor's degree. This is because the visa I have doesn't allow me to work in the US. That, coupled with really high tuition here, has made me consider colleges outside the US.

The pros that I see with going abroad for university are that I can get my degree cheaper and I might be able to work in the UK depending on the immigration policy. Plus I've always wanted to experience life outside the US, so I'd be really excited if I could go.

However, ever since Covid became a thing I'm not really sure if it would be the safest decision to make. Things have gotten better but who's to say it won't get worse? Also, I don't know if I would be able to handle the homesickness since I've never really lived without my parents for longer than a couple days.

I can't really decide if applying for university outside the US is a good idea or if I'm just romanticizing it. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!

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Welcome to The AnswerBank! I'll tackle the 'being away from parents bit first': I used to teach Year 13 students (which is the UK's equivalent of your 12th Grade, since formal education starts a year earlier in the UK than it does in the US). When they were applying for university places, the advice I always gave them was that they should only to apply to...
01:11 Thu 24th Jun 2021
You need to contact the colleges you are interested in to ask about their foreign student intake policy, fees, accommodation, visa requirements and work permits. Read about the towns the colleges are in. Find out what course requirements are. What extra curricular activities there are. Health insurance etc
Welcome to The AnswerBank!

I'll tackle the 'being away from parents bit first': I used to teach Year 13 students (which is the UK's equivalent of your 12th Grade, since formal education starts a year earlier in the UK than it does in the US). When they were applying for university places, the advice I always gave them was that they should only to apply to universities that were far enough away from their parents to ensure that they couldn't possibly get home for the weekend. There were two reasons for that, viz:
(a) however mature (in comparison to their peers) a young person might be at that age, they will still benefit from 'being away from Mummy's apron strings' while at university ; and
(b) university should be about much more than simply studying. The social life at university is just as important (if not more so) than formal study if one is to get the best out of the university experience. Students frequently miss out on that side of things if they're constantly heading home to their parents.

With regard to UK visa rules, see here for general information about applying for a student visa: https://www.gov.uk/student-visa

The University of Cambridge website provides further information about the restrictions on working with a student visa:
https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/student-visa-responsibilities/working-student-visa

If you can find a place at a UK university, and the financial situation is acceptable to you, I'd strongly recommend coming to the UK. The very fact that you've asked such a well thought out and well-considered question suggests to me that you've got the maturity to thrive in a UK university setting.

Applications for universities in the UK are handled in the first instance by UCAS (the University and Colleges Admissions Service). Their website has loads of information for international students
https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/ucas-undergraduate-international-eu-students

The UCAS search facility, enabling you to find suitable course providers, can be found here:
https://digital.ucas.com/search

If you need advice as to whether a particular town or city in the UK would be a good place to study (with regard to factors such as accommodation provision or whether there would be a good social life on offer), feel free to ask further questions on this site.

We might also be able to advise you about the best universities for your particular area of study. While Oxford and Cambridge are traditionally regarded as England's 'top' universities (akin to Harvard and Yale, and just as hard to get into), other universities might be better for specific subjects. e.g. if you want to study Marine Biology, Southampton University might be a good choice. For Environmental Science, the University of East Anglia is a first-rate provider. For engineering, UMIST (the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) would be an excellent choice. . . . and so on.

Go for it!
I would only add to Buenchico's argument that many in Britain make sure they stay close enough to their parents' home to take their laundry there at weekends.

Some homesickness is normal; but starting at college is also seen as the perfect opportunity to move away from home - for most people it's the first time they've done so. Staying in touch with friends and family abroad has never been easier.
The others have given you excellent answers. However ...

You mention a Visa which does not permit you to work in the US. Where are you originally from?
I don't know if it's relevant but the others will and will be able to guide you further.
You correctly identify the test for yourself and your family when away from the family home for prolonged periods, each individual will experience this differently. My suspicion is that the vast majority will cope adequately. Some will gain from it but I do not subscribe to the popular perception that close ties to parents and/or other family members are best severed. Some will find it very trying.

On the academic side, you need to be certain that the qualifications you end up with will serve your aims. One of the most important aspects is to be certain that your qualifications will be accepted wherever you are going to end up using them - make absolutely certain that you have in writing that they will receive accreditation, remembering that rules can change while you are obtaining the qualifications. Also, there are differences found between universities in the United Kingdom (UK) of a nature you will be familiar with in the USA (I understand that is where you live) - some are of "lighter weight" than others. Some time ago a large number of UK colleges were rebranded as universities with the result that for quite a while there was a sense of a wide gulf between the weight of a degree from one university and another. Some of that still persists but many of the new universities have countered that by offering degrees in "new" disciplines. You need to research this which is less easy from where you are. Above all you need to be extremely clear about your own aims, especially as you are contemplating quite an undertaking.

Presumably you are considering the UK because of the English language. I greatly admire those who embark on a university career in a completely (our nearly completely) different language (and country/culture) and actually do so successfully. That is, however, only for the very able. You are correct to examine whether you are at risk of approaching this in a romantic frame of mind. People outside the UK naturally know not a lot about the day to day aspects of life in the UK and are possibly also selective (as many/most of us are to at least some degree) regarding what we notice among the information that floats our way. There are huge contrasts within the USA and you will find analogous contrasts within the UK. Much depends on your personality, background, etc. how you will feel once immersed in British life. There is no question that the British are quite different from other nations, and the famous conservatism and reluctance to (fear of) change is definitely quickly obvious. Personally, I would warn you against accepting the "inherited"/historical image of what the British are about - even many of the British are guilty of seeing themselves that way instead of what they really are. As an American, you will inevitably sense that you will be seen by some as not just a foreigner but occasionally also somehow inferior. This will not matter in most cases when total strangers are involved but it will matter if you come across this among your peers, not to mention if it is among the teaching staff. You will also come across surprising ignorance of your country and your background, some just plain ignorance and some of it crass and spiteful. Hopefully you would experience this sort of thing only quite rarely, but it will happen - but much depends on how you, as a person, are perceived. You must not go into this wearing rose tinted spectacles.

Final analysis: Going to another country to study will add a few different aspects to going to some distant state within the USA. If you feel you can cope with these additional challenges then just be certain you are mentally prepared. If you are certain you have prepared enough and have armed yourself with the knowledge available then there is much to be said for living abroad. That experience, whether as a student or not, can enrich your person in a way that has no equal - so long as you yourself have an open mind devoid of the arrogance of the superiority of your own ....

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