Get to know universities as an international applicant

Thursday 19 December 2019, Applicant

by Coral Kim

Get to know universities as an international applicant

Coral Kim

You’ve decided to apply for a university in the UK. You’ve figured out (hopefully) the UCAS application system, you’ve chosen a course, and you’ve stumbled upon the various university rankings. But now you need to pick a university, where you’re probably going to spend three (or more) years of your life. How? How can you tell which one suits you best? Which one has the student life that fits you?

'Come to our open day.'

Sadly, that’s not an option. As much as you want to visit, you simply cannot afford (either in terms of time or money, or both) to do so. It’s a situation most international students face — I did, too. Then how on earth did I choose five universities, out of the countless options that the UK offers, without even being able to visit them?

1. Vlogs or blogs

Many universities have students that are active as either vloggers or bloggers — all five of my choices did! Lots of them produce university related content, such as dorm tour videos, day-in-the-life videos, and application advice, so checking if any of them are students at your choice is a good idea. A big plus is that all such content is made by actual students.

2. Virtual Tours

Some universities may provide virtual tours. But don’t worry if they don’t, you can always set it up on your own with online map and street view services. You may not be able to go inside lecture halls or see how clean the bathrooms are, but you’ll at least get a general feeling of the campus. Add to this 'tour' some promotional/individually uploaded videos capturing the buildings (again, easily found online through a quick search for most universities) — it’ll tell you a lot about the university, though it won’t be perfect.

3. Alumni

There are two possible cases for number three: either you know a student attending one of your choices or  you don’t know anyone who does. If you do know someone, then great! Try to reach out to them and ask them about what they like the most and the least. I’m sure most of them will be eager to talk to you, though since they’re giving you their individual opinion, you should take their advice with a grain of salt. If you don’t know anyone, then you can always reach out further. Try posting questions on online forums or Q&A websites. I know, this post does mention the internet a lot of times — but it really is the best place to meet who you want, or even “visit” places you want to see, without investing in expensive plane tickets.

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