How I Chose the Right University for Me
Picking the right university can seem daunting. After all, there are so many choices and it’s hard to know if the advertised courses will deliver what you want out of your degree. Plus, if you can’t easily visit prospective schools, it’s even harder to know if you’ll enjoy living there in the first place. But no need to overstress! As a prospective student, you’re likely already taking smart steps to whittle down your choices, and this blog shares more tips on how to choose the right university for you, based on my own experience choosing The University of Manchester.
The main factor I was looking at in choosing a university was the academic program. I knew that my motivation for pursuing a master’s degree in the first place was to continue studying some of the issues of global development that I enjoyed most while studying my undergraduate degree, such as global inequalities and the environmental impact of development. I also knew that since I didn’t have a specific topic I wanted to focus on within development, I wanted a course that allowed me the freedom to choose a variety of electives. So, as I looked at different taught postgraduate courses, I took time to look through the course unit lists to see the required classes and types of electives available. The MSc International Development course at Manchester offered the types of classes I wanted to take, as well as the freedom to choose several electives out of them.
In addition to looking at the classes of prospective courses, I also researched the programs in which they were housed, such as the Global Development Institute (GDI) here at The University of Manchester. I was drawn to the GDI not only for the curriculum in the MSc course, but also because the faculty here conduct impactful research that both actively promotes social justice in the world and enriches the curriculum. For example, one of GDI’s senior lecturers, Nicola Banks, co-founded a newly launched social enterprise called One World Together, which aims to directly channel development aid funding in a radical way to local and community-based organizations in the global South! Finally, besides the actionable research happening at Manchester, the input from my undergraduate professors – who recommended the curriculum and faculty at Manchester – was key.
Even if your academic program is amazing, the vibe of the place in which you’re studying matters just as much. This is why I put a lot of time into researching the cities of prospective schools. Besides looking at articles about Manchester, I relied on UniBuddy – an online platform where prospective university students can connect with current students and ask them about their experiences. I got a lot of insight into Manchester’s atmosphere and ‘liveability’ through this, such as asking about Manchester’s diversity, how urban the city is, how affordable it is, the political atmosphere, etc. As an international student who had never stepped foot in the UK before, this was invaluable in deciding whether Manchester was right for me.
And it turned out to be the right fit! I’ve so enjoyed my academic program and living in this vibrant city. The University of Manchester may not be right for everyone, but by doing some serious research on the program and place, choosing the right university for you needn’t be so stressful. Happy school-searching!
Written by Lydia, current postgraduate student at The University of Manchester