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Studying in the U.K. and possibly at University of Edinburgh as an American

johnwill1235johnwill1235 3 replies3 threads New Member
Hello all, I am a rising senior in the USA who is looking for advice on whether to do four years at a U.K. University. I have traveled to the UK twice before (two years ago in southern England and this year in Scotland) and I love it. My family and I rented a house for a couple of days on the campus of the University of Edinburgh and I thought the architecture and the city as a whole were amazing. I am also extremely interested in the history of the UK. For example, I am currently doing a year-long research project on England and its rise to European dominance.

I have told the people around me that I am considering going for four years to uni in Edinburgh, and they have brought up some thought-provoking points which I would greatly appreciate any comments on.

1. "What if you decide you hate it after your first year and are stuck in dark and gloomy Scotland for three more years?"
2. "All of your connections for after college will be in the UK, so what if you decide you want to live in the US more?"
3. "Why don't you just do one year in Scotland, and then three years at a less culturally shocking US school?"
4. "You can get into Ivy league schools because of how hard you've worked in school, so why settle for a university no one has ever heard of?"

Finally, I have some questions which I would also appreciate if people who have maybe been in a similar situation could answer.

a. I was looking at degrees, and I noticed there were many options with two fields of study (i.e. MA History & Economics). Is this similar to a double major in the US? If not, could someone describe further what this degree is like?

b. Is there any way to transfer at the end of my first year from a UK university to an American one?

c. Does Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh ever get small?

I know this is a pretty dense thread, so I will stop it there. Any comments will be extremely helpful in allowing me to make an informed decision!

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Replies to: Studying in the U.K. and possibly at University of Edinburgh as an American

  • johnwill1235johnwill1235 3 replies3 threads New Member
    edited February 2018
    Hello, I live in the US. I am posting here today because I am particularly drawn to going to University in Scotland. I don't know too much about it, but I know that their system is a hybrid between the English system of very focused and the American college system of liberal education. I was looking at universities such as Edinburgh or Saint Andrews, and comparing them to universities like the University of Pennsylvania. My dad says that "the University of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews are horrible compared to Penn and the American graduate programs will be much harder to get into" if I go to the Scotish schools.

    Is there any evidence that these schools will make it harder to get into good graduate programs? I am particularly interested in International relations/politics/business, so I was also wondering if these schools are particularly good for these.
    edited February 2018
    Post edited by warblersrule on
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13630 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    No. Grad schools will know about the rigor of these programs.

    The key difference is in the style of education. Much less hand-holding. Much more depends on big end-of-the-year tests/essays (that determine almost all of your marks). I would say St. A's and Edinburgh are roughly equivalent to W&M and UNC in reputation, not UPenn. But top grad school also take students from W&M and UNC. For grad school, how well you do will matter much more than which of UPenn/St. A's/Edinburgh/UNC/W&M you go to. St. A's is known for IR. I believe Edinburgh as well. For finding a job straight out of undergrad, it would be easier attending a comparable American uni (for obvious reasons).

    UPenn is also tougher to enter as well.

    Finally, you have to know what subject you want to apply for. For Penn as well, you have to decide whether to apply to Wharton or another school.
    edited February 2018
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  • Penn95Penn95 2283 replies79 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    @johnwill1235 it is true that St. Andrews and Edinburgh are not exactly on par with Penn and other ivies/elites in the US. Ivy-comparable UK schools are Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL.

    I think if you really excel at St Andrews or Edinburgh you have a good chance at top US grad schools. Maybe the people who excelled at Penn and other US elites will have slightly higher chances but still i dont think you will be at a big disadvantage for elite US grad school admissions.
    edited February 2018
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13630 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @Penn95, IMO, UCL=UMich, a near-Ivy.

    But so much is subject dependent as well. In Informatics (what Edinburgh calls CS), Edi is one of the top AI schools in the world. Likewise, in international relations, St. A's is one of the top schools. Just as you can find subjects where UMich actually sends kids to PhD programs at a higher rate than UPenn, you can find the same at Edinburgh and St. A's.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    The fact is with an excellent GPA, GRE and references you can get in to a good grad program from virtually any decent accredited university. I went to podunk liberal arts college, my P Chem professor (PhD from Cambridge) wrote me a great letter, I had a high GPA and GRE's and I got in to more than one top 10 PhD programs in my field.

    And how he can say St. Andrews is horrible for IR is beyond me.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 16082 replies1082 threads Senior Member
    Are you able to be full pay in Scotland? Minimal financial aid to American students.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13630 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Agree with @VickiSoCal.

    Honestly, to get in to a good PhD program, you need to excel wherever you are.

    And there are some schools that can not get you in to a good PhD program in some subjects, but both Edinburgh and St. A's are fine.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12316 replies167 threads Senior Member
    Why not do the joint program at the College of William & Mary ? Two years here & two years at St. Andrews.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    If you are out of VA state the joint program is more expensive than 4 years at St. Andrews
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  • PublisherPublisher 12316 replies167 threads Senior Member
    Could he start at St. Andrews ?
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13630 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @Publisher: Why would it matter? Costs would be the same.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    It's about 30K pounds a year for tuition for the joint program, 20K per-year for all 4 years at St. Andrews.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12316 replies167 threads Senior Member
    Essentially that is what I am asking. Seems like costs would be less if 4 years at St. Andrews is less than 2 years at W&M followed by 2 years at St. Andrews. Does the home institution's tuition follows the student ?
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    No, other than St. Andrews "home" students pay in pounds, and W and M pay in dollars, the tuition is the same. Currently about 40K dollars/30K pounds.

    You do the first year at your home school, the second year at the other, then third and fourth in either order.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12316 replies167 threads Senior Member
    Doesn't St. Andrews charge a premium for International Students ?
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  • WhistlingalWhistlingal 148 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @johnwill1235 Speaking as a Brit St Andrews and Edinburgh are excellent universities, moving on to a phd would be no problem as long as you put in the work. The main difference from the US system is that there isn't a 'core' syllabus or that wide liberal arts discipline. You enroll to study a subject: biology, music, history, CS whatever and the bulk of your timetable will be around that. However, in Scotland, you are encouraged to take other subjects, one in your 'field' and one not. So for example you go in to study history but might also take politics and drama. You can then either change your extra subjects to try others or drop the original subject and pick up one of the subjects you have tried. So while there is a lot more flexibility than say Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton it is not as flexible as the US. Also St Andrews and Edinburgh are not campus universities - very few are in the UK. St Andrews is a very small town and so has more of a campus feel and with only 6000 students is one of the smallest universities. Edinburgh is one of the largest. Because of the non-campus there flexible costs. You can choose how much to spend on accommodation and food. If you want to save money you can live on baked beans on toast for the year! Most accommodation is self-catering so you can spend as much or as little as you like.
    If you know what you want to study the UK is a great place to study. The depth of study is greater than the US. You are studying 30 weeks for 3 years on one subject, but you have got to love that subject. If there is any doubt I would advise staying in the US.
    However, studying abroad is always going to look good on a CV - in my opinion. Two candidates with equal degrees and one has studied abroad I would always choose that one.
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  • PublisherPublisher 12316 replies167 threads Senior Member
    @VickiSoCal : I scanned the W&M web page on this program. Not sure if I read it correctly. Seems that even Virginia residents do not get in-state tuition break if accepted into this program. Only difference is that Virginia residents get full financial need met while non-residents can only get grants up to 25% of cost.

    Did I read this correctly ?
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    I guess so. And Scottish students who are normally *free* at St. Andrews pay full freight all for years. Not a good value IMO. More of a novelty thing? Is it really that special?
    As to St. Andrews normal tuition- free for Scots/EU, 9K for rest of UK, 20K for non UK/EU
    edited February 2018
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13630 replies32 threads Senior Member
    However, pretty much all American colleges have extensive study-abroad programs as well these days.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 16082 replies1082 threads Senior Member
    Sometimes the student who is the most eager to go away to college is the one who gets homesick. Are you prepared to live 4 years in a remote northern town in Scotland?
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