Advice: Grad School in the UK

When I came to the UK for the first time, I knew that I wanted to come back for graduate school. After doing my research about how everything works, I found it to be really simple for an American to come over and study. Since I am finished (though my graduation ceremony keeps getting cancelled), I thought I would pass on my experiences as an American attending graduate school in the UK. Note: This is my experience with one specific school and some admittance terms, experiences, etc. could be different depending on what school you want to attend. It is also important to note immigration rules may have changed since I first applied, so please continue to research what is needed.

I learnt most postgraduate applications opened up during the month of October for incoming placements the next September. This is when I had applied to different graduate schools in the UK. Before applying, I did a basic google search to compare programs that I was interested in. I settled on applying to three schools – University of Lincoln, University of Roehampton, and Kingston University.

The application process was fairly easy for all three universities. Another plus for why I chose to go to the UK for graduate school was that I didn’t have to take any entrance exams. I was given conditional offers from both the University of Lincoln and University of Roehampton in less than 24 hours of me first applying. Kingston sent me my offer about a week later. I weighed pros and cons between the universities and ultimately decided on University of Lincoln.

In March of 2019, I decided to take my spring break in England. During this time, I got the chance to have a campus tour. I also spent some time looking around the city. I know this can’t happen for everyone, but it helped me get a better idea of where I was going to be living before even starting school. It was really helpful when I ended up moving in the fall.

My offer to Lincoln was conditional, which meant I had to prove certain items before receiving an unconditional offer. I did not have that much to send. Some of the things I had to send over were: a copy of my passport, a copy of my final transcript, and a copy of my degree. This meant I was waiting for some time before Lincoln could confirm my place and send me over the information I needed for my visa application.

I believe it was in April of 2019 when they opened up applications for housing. Since I was an international student, it seemed to me that you had to live in university housing or housing that is somewhat tied with the university. I had to pick my top six places to live – trying to fit within my price range and location. I did not find out where I was living until less than a month before I left for the UK. I ended up getting my first choice accommodation. I also lived in a studio apartment because as a graduate student, I did not want to have to share a kitchen with new students just coming to university.

Before applying for your visa, you need a CAS letter from your school organisation. This letter proves that you have a spot, when your course starts and ends, and other important information for your application. It was not a difficult process to apply for my Tier 4 visa (I had done it before when studying abroad two years earlier), however there seemed to be a lot more questions than I remembered. Always double check your answers and your information! After getting my biometrics done, it took less than two weeks to get my passport back. The process was really smooth, surprisingly.

I flew into London and stayed with my boyfriend (now husband) before we set up north to Lincoln. I had bought most of my stuff ahead of the move since I had someone with a car. I honestly can’t imagine not having a vehicle and having to haul all the kitchenware myself!

Settling in was fairly easy to me. I was used to moving away and starting over in a new place myself. I was excited to meet my neighbours and just get ready for classes. I participated in freshers week and went out almost every night. It was a great way to meet people and get to know the city more. Even though I was the oldest one in the group and I ended up getting extremely sick, I still don’t regret that week.

Freshers Week – I only know two people in this photo

It really depends on your program, but I only had classes twice a week – Thursday and Friday. I was, however, in class from 9am-6pm on Thursdays and 9am-5pm on Fridays. These proved to be very tiring days for me. I think I still prefer my short classes multiple times a week from undergrad. Most of my lecturers were nice and helpful, accommodating to me because of a different learning background. I’ll admit some I lecturers had issues with, but that’s every university isn’t it?

One thing I haven’t touched on is finances. I had received an unsubsidized and a PLUS loan from FAFSA. I had worked with someone in the finances office at the university who helped me with everything. I was also paid in three increments, where my tuition was automatically deducted from it. It was really nice to only have to worry about paying housing. The woman I worked with in finances was so helpful and everything worked out for me money wise.

I recommend also getting involved with at least one society on campus. I went to a societies fayre they had on campus to learn about the different organisations. I decided to join the comedy society and it was worth it. Through that, I got to meet some really amazing people, got to be on the radio, and established some lasting friendships.

If you’re thinking about furthering your education in the UK or maybe want to begin it over here, I hope my experiences give you some idea of what to expect. My experiences may be different because (a) I had lived in the UK before grad school and (b) I am a native English speaker. Of course, when the pandemic happened a lot of my feelings changed about being there. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything in the world.

xx Hannah

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