Deciding Where to Study US, UK, Canada?
The value of a global education and knowing how to choose where to go is essential in deciding where to study, whether Canada, USA or Europe.
In an increasingly interconnected world, the value of exposure to different ways of thinking, being and operating cannot be underestimated. As such, many schools are now encouraging their own local students to study overseas for a semester or a year, or otherwise engage with the world at large. So, how can you determine the best place to pursue further studies?
By considering key factors and weighing the pros and cons of each system against your needs and preferences from an academic, financial, social and emotional perspective.
First, let’s talk financial since without the ability to pay for your education you can’t obtain the requisite visa to study overseas.
Overall, the US offers the most financial and scholarship opportunities to students across a wide range of disciplines. Larger scholarship amounts tend to be available for students studying traditional fields, with less being available to those interested in the creative fields. There is a disconnect here since the creative industries — including video game design, animation etc, are some of the fastest-growing industries globally.
Many universities in Europe actually offer tuition-free study at the undergraduate and masters levels, but students are responsible for covering room and board, and of course, transportation. This is a truly phenomenal opportunity IF the student can find his or her programme, taught in English (or their native language) and navigate the application process which can tend to be confusing / cumbersome versus the US, UK and Canadian apps.
As it relates to large scholarships and aid, Canadian university offerings tend to be relatively slim and are offered primarily on the basis of academic achievement. Still, the cost of studying in Canada is less than half of what a similar strength university in the US may cost, so the value for money is truly unparalleled. As with most things in life, it is really important to research and research well! A few large scholarships do exist, example a special scholarship for a student planning to major in civil engineering at Dalhousie University.
The UK is a bit worse than Canada? in terms of funding – at least for undergraduate studies. More opportunities for substantial bursaries and stipends exist for postgraduate studies. So, if you have no money at all, but excellent grades and a strong extra curricular profile and standardised testing, focus on the US? for undergraduate studies?..
If your budget is US$20,000? or more per year?, then look to the US, Canada and possibly the UK for where to study.
? If your high school record and exam results are not stellar and you have no financing and no special athletics or other ability, then your best bet may be to study locally, then pursue a Chevening scholarship for Masters study in the UK or a funded PhD programme anywhere in the world.
From an academic perspective, it is important to understand the difference across educational systems and approach. Schools in Canada, the UK and Europe tend to expect students to know what they want to study, and to apply for that programme. In the US, most universities allow students to explore various areas for two years before declaring a major (except for engineering of course). The US does NOT offer medicine or law or professional degrees at the undergraduate level, and instead expects students to complete a four-year degree before applying to those programmes. In the UK, like Jamaica, students can apply directly to law or medicine.
In terms of the actual academic experience, in Europe and the UK universities tend to be test focused with progression from year to year often depending on a single set of exams at the end of the academic year. If you’re not a great exam taker, think twice about studying in the UK and Europe. In the US, assessment tends to be more discussion, presentation and coursework focused. Of course, exams are part of the mix but it is just that – part of the mix not the entire assessment. Canada tends to be a mixture of both the UK and US approach, depending on the university in question.
The choice of where to study depends largely on what students plan to study, and at what level (undergraduate versus postgraduate). For example, the US is generally not a great choice for students wishing to study renewable energy. So, it is very important for students to consider what they want to study, then look at the countries and institutions that are strongest in those fields, and that, of course, fit into the student’s budget.
By: Nicole McLaren Campbell is the founder and CEO of Aim Educational Services, an independent college admissions counsellor, and public speaker. Contact her at [email protected].