From the Ivy Leagues scattered across the east coast to the UC’s scattered across the west coast, it may be tempting to stay within mainland USA when exploring your options for higher education. However, depending on your major, personality, and financial situation, it may be smarter to earn a degree abroad.
Let’s do this Jimmy Fallon style and consider the pros and cons…
Tuition for a BA degree is around £14,000 ($21,857.64) per academic year compared to many American Universities charging up to $40,000 or even $50,000 nowadays. It should be noted that if you are going into the medical field or laboratory science, these fees will be higher, reaching up to £30,000 ($48,403.09) or more. Location and school reputation also go into play. You can expect schools located in central London or other populated cities, and prestigious universities (i.e. Cambridge & Oxford) to have higher tuition fees.
- Room and board can range from around £3,000 ($4,683.03) to £8,000 ($12,488.36) per academic year. Here’s why that’s such a huge perk: most university residences in the UK are en suite rooms. Translation: you get your own room and your own bathroom, the only thing you have to share is a large kitchen among like 4 other students and all this while paying much less than US students with roommates. I am currently paying £4,560.93 ($7,119.61) per year for my en suite room with all amenities & utilities included such as bills, bedding, all the kitchen appliances and utensils you could possibly need, laundry, and even a TV.
- The average length of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the US is 4 years. In the UK, it’s only 3 years.That’s a whole year’s worth of tuition and room & board fees you don’t have to pay. How is this possible? In a UK university you don’t have to take general education classes for the first 1 or 2 years, which is great if you know what you want to major in and want to immerse yourself in that field. The reason behind this is the different education system in the US vs UK but that is a whole different lengthy topic.
- There are many scholarships available from the school once you have confirmed your enrollment. Even if you fail to receive any money for your first year of studies, the school will help you find other scholarships for the remaining two years. I stumbled across a £5,000 scholarship from my school, finished my application in an hour on a boring Friday afternoon, and ended up being chosen as one of the 14 winners.
- It’s actually easier to get into a prestigious school abroad compared to an equally prestigious school in the US. As an overseas student, you will be paying significantly more for tuition than the students who are residents of the country, and we all know how much universities love money. With my mediocre cumulative high school GPA of 3.67 (weighted), this was definitely my saving grace.
- Going to school in the UK allows you to branch out and explore other parts of Europe on a college student’s budget. Perfect for the adventurous type!
- Unfortunately you cannot rely solely on student loans and scholarships to go to school in the UK. You must provide proof that you can afford to support yourself for at least the first year of your studies – such as your legal guardian’s bank statement showing that you have enough money for your first year’s tuition, accommodation, and living costs – when applying for your student visa.
- The process of obtaining a Tier 4 student visa is a complete nightmare. This will take at least a month and follows a very complicated and confusing procedure. It will cost you around $1,000 and your peace of mind.
- Unlike students staying in the US, students leaving the country have many other preparations to make. You have to find a new cell phone plan, open a new bank account, and familiarize yourself with the culture and currency in your new environment. This means that you’ll probably be occupied until the minute you leave for school instead of being relaxed all summer long like the other graduates.
- Even the most independent and adventurous people get homesick. To be fair, you’ll get homesick no matter where you go to college (unless you decide to stay local). However, when you’re all alone overseas, in a completely new environment, it definitely doesn’t make things any easier.
Overall, if you think earning a degree abroad is the right choice for you, and after much deliberation you decide that this is what you want, take the leap. It’s worth it.