- The City’s identity: The city in which the institution is located has more to it than just the mighty buildings and eminent professors. For example, one should always consider the presence of different corporate organizations and companies of the pursued field in and around the city. If you’re planning to get a job, you would most likely get it if those companies have a footfall at your campus. Companies tend to participate at career fairs, which is a great way to network. Networking is the key to get a job in a lot of countries, where academic institutions do not participate in typical placement procedures for graduate students.
Expenses: If you’re in your early 20’s with little saved up or if you have no job experience, it’s best to choose a city that does not have extremely high rents and other expenses. Even if you have an education loan, it generally won’t cover day to day expenses. These expenses could be plenty if not researched properly. So, your choice of college should come down to a combination of college tuition, ranking, past placements etc.
But then again, if you get an admit from Columbia (New York has one of the highest rents in the world), the rent is probably worth the coveted experience and potential job opportunities.
- Culture: When you are in a different country, it becomes necessary to mingle with a diverse crowd and learn more about different cultures. Depending on how diverse the crowd is, you face different experiences in different cities. Thereby, depending on what type of an environment fits your personality, be wary of the cultural diversity of the city because some people can find it overwhelming.
Visa Regulations and the future of it: Studying abroad can be stressful as it is. Recently, it has become a little unstable for students studying abroad. It’s best to keep yourself updated with all the developments regarding visa regulations. In recent times, Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) and UK’s Brexit campaign created quite an upheaval in visa regulations leading to decline in overall visa applications for US.
It is important to know what exactly the work visa allows and to stick to the rules and regulations.
- Public Transportation: Make sure you understand the public transportation in and around the institution. It is a great way to save and travel safely in and around the city. For example, New York and Boston have a great network of public transportation and are greatly preferred as a graduate program destination.
- Weather: Weather in the city is an important factor too. For example, Cambridge is a city that has 2 of the most highly ranked institutions but is cold 8 months of the year. If you are from a temperate location, getting acclimatized to such temperatures would take time. Be prepared for snow shoveling, driving a car in snow, buying a different jacket and shoe for a different season (at least 4 types). This can contribute to some discomfort and added expenses. Hence, doing a research on the web before hand can be helpful.
- Mental Health: Last but certainly not the least, mental health is an issue not to be dealt with lightly. Studying abroad makes you deal with a lot of changes. Try to make a lot of friends and be involved in activities. If you have never lived alone, it may take a toll on your mental health. Most universities have excellent centers for taking care of these issues. Make sure you open up and deal with it. Bottling up the issues would only make it worse. Engage more and build your network!
The destination of your masters should be a combination of things that you’re comfortable with. There are always trade-offs between the university and the city. Pick your factors and go with them.
I hope this article was helpful to all. Have a wonderful journey and good luck to all!