College in the UK

A student is considering crossing the Pond for college. It would be a wonderful opportunity, says our elder.

Take time to do your research and remember that you can always come back.


Dear EWC

Hi! I’m a 16-year-old female living in the US but I was born in India. I’m going to 12th grade so college applications are starting soon, and I’ve been considering colleges in the UK as well as the US. This is because the visa that I have that allows me to stay here doesn’t let me work here. The tuition in the US is really high now so I’m kind of nervous to go to college here, and have been looking at the UK because it’s cheaper and I can get my bachelor’s degree quicker (3 years instead of 4). I think that going to the UK for college is good because the student visa there would let me work while studying (while I can’t do that here). Plus, I’ve always wanted to experience life outside the US because I’ve lived here ever since I was four, so if I do go, I’d be really excited. However, with Covid-19, I don’t really know if it would be a smart decision to leave the country. The situation has been getting better both here and in the UK, but who’s to say it can’t get worse? Also, I don’t know how I would handle the homesickness. Another thing that I’m worried about is that I might be romanticizing studying abroad and making it seem more fun than it actually is. I don’t really know what the right decision is here. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and have a great day!


Alexandra replies

I’m so glad you wrote to us, and how wonderful that you can choose where you want to go to college. I’m sure your parents have lots of input into this decision, and of course I can’t tell you what to do, but what I can do is tell you what advice I’d give my granddaughter if she had your choices. You have some time before you have to make this decision, and let’s hope by the time you start college that Covid will, at the very least, be well under control.

Yes, college in the US can be very expensive. Unless your parents can afford to support you through four years of tuition, accommodation, food and other expenses, or you can obtain scholarships, the fact that you can’t work could be a serious drawback. Four years is a long time to be dependent on family.

On the other hand, I think that going to school in the UK would be a wonderful opportunity. You don’t need to learn a new language and you get your degree a whole year sooner. Yes, you may be a bit homesick to begin with, but if you go to college in the US outside your home state, you could very well be homesick there, too. That usually passes quite quickly as you settle into a new environment and make new friends. Think of all the history and the beautiful countryside, plus the easy access to so many European countries. You can pop over to France or Spain for a weekend or spend a few days in Cornwall and Devon or the Scottish Highlands. 

You have plenty of time to do lots of research, both on the colleges you’d consider in the US and those in the UK. Watch travel programs about Britain to see the countryside, and learn a bit of the history. If possible, see if you can talk to a few people who actually go – or have gone – to college in Britain and get their opinion about the pros and cons of education in the UK. You’ll want to know, also, how easy it would be for you to find a job that fitted with your study time and still gave you time to explore.

Remember, too, that any decision you make is not written in stone. Lots of students change schools after their first year, and although I don’t necessarily recommend it, if you feel you’ve made a wrong choice, you can always make a change,

I hope I’ve given you something to think about. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a Brit, although I’ve lived in North America for many years, so I do know a bit about both countries. I hope, whatever you decide, that you have a wonderful college experience when the time comes. Please feel free to write back any time if you want to talk more. 

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