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US vs UK Master's Programs


syazanazura

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Hi,

I am an international undergraduate student in the US, and am applying for the Master's program in Student Affairs in Higher Education (or similar programs depending on the schools).

Universities I applied for: University of Rochester (admitted, 30% tuition scholarship), University of Wisconsin-Madison (recommended for admission, need official transcript to finalize offer), Colorado State University (not invited to interview), Michigan State University (no results yet), Anglia Ruskin University (in England, UK) (conditional offer, need minimum GPA of 3.0 by graduation next year, highly achievable).

I also applied to a Human Ecology program at UW-Madison for Youth Development/Non-profit leadership/Community development and the sort, and should be hearing back by end of January too.

What I'm contemplating right now is if I want to stay and pursue my Master's in the UK or in the US (if the US, I still have to decide which school, but that's a different story). Some thoughts that I consider while thinking this all out:

1) Funding, obviously.

While Rochester offers a 30% tuition scholarship, that will still cost me about $35,000 or so in tuition fees. For Madison (for both SAHE / Human Ecology), tuition cost should be roughly around the $40,000-mark or so, give an take a few thousand. Anglia Ruskin would cost me around GBP12,000, so that's around $15,000. 

I have been on a convertible loan from my country's government for my undergraduate (will probably need to pay back around 10-15% of my total costs including living expenses and all after I graduate). But for my masters, I will mostly be on personal funding (my parents agreed to help me pay for grad school) since there are not many options back home for funding for Education-related program.

2) Time commitment

Rochester is a two-year program. Madison is roughly 1.5 to 2 years, depending on how many credits I take per semester (30-33 credits for their programs). Anglia Ruskin is a year-long program. While I don't mind studying for another two years, doing it in a year seems interesting but daunting at the same time.

3) Education system

My home country follows the British education system (exam-based all throughout high school), and I did A-Levels partly after high school before realizing that I hated how super exam-based it is and switched to a program and applied to the US schools for my undergrad. Super loving the US system and its flexibility, and how it offers me options I didn't know exist for me (seriously, taking a Videogames & Learning course for a Comm B requirement is awesome). But have been told that the UK Master's programs are not the same as the UK Bachelors' programs. Am planning to read up more on how the program is structured and taught, as well as talking to my friends who did Master's in the UK for their experience.

4) Environment

I've grown to love the US, and would love to stay and do my Master's here. Been to Rochester, loved the campus and my possible department. People are friendly, diversity is great (as a Muslim, this is highly needed). Even saw a prayer mat in the student lounge while touring and I was so excited. Madison, on the other hand, is my alma mater, and I have friends and people that I know and love. Anglia Ruskin is located in Cambridge, England, and while I've never been to Cambridge specifically, I've lived in London for 1.5 years back when I was younger, and have visited two years ago. Still have friends who are pursuing their undergraduate in England at various places, and some who will still be there if I do my Master's there next September.

The thing is, my parents are worried about me wanting to stay in the US, what with the election results and all that (as a female Muslim who wears the hijab). Personally, I've never experienced anything bad, other than that one time where a white guy suddenly yelled "F* you" in my face as I was walking back home (granted, it was 2am in the morning, and he was probably drunk). But my parents, not knowing how things would be next year (or the next two years), are super worried, which was why I actually applied to Anglia Ruskin.

5) Visa requirements for dependents/spouse

A little related to the funding issue, since I'm mostly going to be on personal funding. I am now on an F-1 student visa in the US, but would like to be on a J-1 visa for my Master's (mainly because if my spouse were to come and be with me, he can be on a J-2 visa and work part-time instead of staying at home and being idle for two years). But J-1 visa are typically for students sponsored by the university, by government or have substantial funding from anything other than personal (I am asking Rochester about their policy, since I have a 30% tuition scholarship and the form that I was given gave me an option to select J-1 instead of an F-1).

The UK, however, should be easier. As I will be on a Tier 4 student visa, my spouse should be able to come and stay with me (as I am doing a year-long Master's program) and he should be able to work (if I'm not mistaken, if you know more, please let me know!) 

6) The program itself

Rochester is one of my top choices because their program is a combination of Educational Administration w/ specialization in Student Affairs and Academic/Career Advising. As I would possibly like to be an education consultant in the future, this would work best with my interests. Madison's Student Affairs program is in their Ed Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA) program, which is more policy-based (though I plan to meet with my assigned advisor next semester to learn more and talk about options). Anglia Ruskin's program has a focus on international/national student affairs, which is interesting for an international student like me. It'd be interesting to see things from different countries' perspectives, and would be beneficial considering it can help me adapt to different situations, especially if I go back home and work with students who are interested to apply to schools outside of my home country. Anglia Ruskin also has a possible internship opportunity to work in the US (summer internship?) if I want to apply for it, which would also be fun.

****

So that's just some of the thoughts I have at the moment. I would be meeting my family next week for a winter trip, and should be discussing all of the options with my parents (after all, they are paying for my education).

At this point, I'm just going through all the pros and cons in my head (and talking it out with my friends to help me think clearly), but I would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, ideas from anyone who knows more about any of these or the UK vs US thing.

Early thanks. :)

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I guess one thing that only you would know is career prospects after doing those programs in your home country. It looks like you want to go back to your home country and become an education consultant, but we don't know how the schools in your home country view these qualifications.

I did my undergraduate and master's in the UK and am now doing a PhD in the US. In general, I prefer the education I received in the UK as it was more solid, organized and in-depth compared with what I'm getting in the US. However, in your case I would say that the schools you applied to in the US and that in the UK are NOT in the same tier. Rochester and Madison are both internationally renowned universities while Anglia Ruskin is a new, regional university that has not yet built a reputation. I studied in two different universities (one top 10, the other top 50) and the difference in the quality of education was huge. I would therefore advise against Anglia Ruskin purely based on potential educational experience unless you've heard good reviews about that particular program. 

In terms of environment, you'll be fine anywhere you choose. I would still say I felt safer in the UK and in the US, but I'm sure after studying in the US for years you should know that the US is still a safe country to be, even when Trump becomes the president. And they're all great cities for your studies. 

You're also right about visas. Your spouse will be able to work in the UK and he'll need a J-2 visa to do so in the US. Hope Rochester can give you a more concrete answer soon.

Hope my comments help. I can't comment on time, money and interests as you may have different priority when it comes to these aspects. 

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1 hour ago, transfatfree said:

I guess one thing that only you would know is career prospects after doing those programs in your home country. It looks like you want to go back to your home country and become an education consultant, but we don't know how the schools in your home country view these qualifications.

In my home country, you don't necessarily need to have an SA degree if you want to work in SA. I once emailed one of the deans in a university back home because I found out he studied the same Master's program in a US university (WMU), and he said that while it is not a necessary thing to have, having it would be helpful for my future career.

1 hour ago, transfatfree said:

I did my undergraduate and master's in the UK and am now doing a PhD in the US. In general, I prefer the education I received in the UK as it was more solid, organized and in-depth compared with what I'm getting in the US. However, in your case I would say that the schools you applied to in the US and that in the UK are NOT in the same tier. Rochester and Madison are both internationally renowned universities while Anglia Ruskin is a new, regional university that has not yet built a reputation. I studied in two different universities (one top 10, the other top 50) and the difference in the quality of education was huge. I would therefore advise against Anglia Ruskin purely based on potential educational experience unless you've heard good reviews about that particular program. 

That is also something that I was considering. When I first heard about the program at Anglia Ruskin, I was like, "OK, where is this and what university is this?" It's definitely not the first university that came to mind when you think about the UK. It used to be ranked 50th in the UK for education (I believe?) but now it dropped to 70-ish something. I did recently found someone on Reddit that did an internship in the same program at Anglia Ruskin before, so I'm definitely going to be talking to them and getting more information from them about it and all.

Thanks for your input!

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5 hours ago, syazanazura said:

In my home country, you don't necessarily need to have an SA degree if you want to work in SA. I once emailed one of the deans in a university back home because I found out he studied the same Master's program in a US university (WMU), and he said that while it is not a necessary thing to have, having it would be helpful for my future career.

 

It'll be ideal if you can find out whether the faculty dominantly received their qualifications from the UK or the US. They should be more familiar with the education system they went through. Like my home country which used to follow the British system, it has transformed into the US system over the years and more faculty did their education in the US than in the UK. I think such recognition is important when you look for jobs in your home country. 

5 hours ago, syazanazura said:

That is also something that I was considering. When I first heard about the program at Anglia Ruskin, I was like, "OK, where is this and what university is this?" It's definitely not the first university that came to mind when you think about the UK. It used to be ranked 50th in the UK for education (I believe?) but now it dropped to 70-ish something. I did recently found someone on Reddit that did an internship in the same program at Anglia Ruskin before, so I'm definitely going to be talking to them and getting more information from them about it and all.

 

If it's the subject ranking, that's really a red flag as there may only be 80 schools in that subject ranking. In addition to professors, I think it's also important to have intellectual interaction with peers. In this regard, I believe Rochester and Madison are able to attract more able peers you can learn from. It's great that you were able to find someone who did the program. They should be able to tell you more about the program and see whether that's what you're looking for.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi syazanazura!

Congrats on the offers you've received so far!

I have a few random comments about the environmental and education-system aspects of your decision-

Well, we've got Trump on one hand and Brexit on the other, so there's no clear "winner" on either side there. I so wish this wasn't the case- for your sake and for all of us. 

I did an MPhil in the UK (at Cambridge) and it was exam based with a thesis as well. However, I know this varies depending on department and concentration as I had some friends in MPhil programs there that were strictly thesis based. 

One thing I would say about Anglia Ruskin is that it sits, literally and figuratively, in the shadow of the University of Cambridge. Loads of AR students and alumni would surely jump right down my throat for saying it, and I'm sorry, but... I wouldn't want to be so close to Cambridge (in sight of it) while attending a lesser known, lower ranked school. Maybe you're a better person than me and wouldn't let ego get in the way, but for me, I always want to be at the center of the action. It would be like living in Jersey City, looking at the NYC skyline everyday, but not actually being in the city. (sorry Jersey folks, I'm just offending everyone today)

For this reason alone, I would opt for one of the US schools located in college towns where that university is the center of social and intellectual activity. 

Also, the Michigan State campus is really lovely. I went there for a summer program in high school and absolutely loved it. That was ...ahem... a while ago, but I remember that there were sprawling green lawns and big trees everywhere. It's beautiful!

One other thing to wonder about though is the location where you plan to work after graduation. If you're planning on working in the US it would be good to have the Higher Ed degree from here. But, if you're planning on working in a country with the UK system, maybe it would make sense to study Higher Ed in the UK. 

Wishing you the best success, whatever you choose!

 

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On 1/27/2017 at 11:49 AM, Plane_Jane said:

Hi syazanazura!

Congrats on the offers you've received so far!

I have a few random comments about the environmental and education-system aspects of your decision-

Well, we've got Trump on one hand and Brexit on the other, so there's no clear "winner" on either side there. I so wish this wasn't the case- for your sake and for all of us. 

Thanks! 

And yes, the Trump vs Brexit is one of the things going on in my head at the moment. I've received words from the other two programs that I was waiting on (rejected from both Michigan State and Madison's Human Ecology), so it goes down to Rochester, NY vs Madison, WI vs Anglia Ruskin.

After contemplating and thinking about it over the winter break, talking to my parents, etc, I decided to go ahead and accept the offer from Rochester, though I decided to defer my enrolment to Spring 2018 instead of Fall 2017. One reason for this is because if I were to start in the Fall, I would probably have a month of rest back home before I have to hop on a plane and start my Master's. So starting in Spring would give me time to rest for a while, spend time with my family for a few months before going away for yet another two years in the US.

Another reason for that is because of what has been going on with the Trump administration. Granted, my home country is not (yet) on the list of countries banned from entering the US for a while, but understandably, my parents are worried about what may happen, and having me start in January would also give us time to figure out if things would be OK or not before I come here again. If things get worse in the next couple of months, my parents may just ask me to go home and find a job back home for a few years before I think about coming to the US again for grad school (which, tbh, I've already started looking for options in case things do take a turn to the worse). :/

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On 2/3/2017 at 8:31 PM, syazanazura said:

I decided to go ahead and accept the offer from Rochester, though I decided to defer my enrolment to Spring 2018 instead of Fall 2017.

sounds like a good plan syazanazura! 

hopefully lots of things here will improve by Spring of 2018...

Congrats!

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