Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions in life; whether for your undergraduate studies, postgraduate studies or your ERASMUS exchange programmes. This decision defines your future career, friends and connections. It goes as far as changing your world view and setting up your goals; it is building you as a person and a professional. So, here comes the hard question – “How to be sure that you are making the right decision?”
The best way to make the right decision is to do a thorough research of all the possibilities, to check everything and avoid hasty decisions. First, and most importantly, think about what you want to study and what you want to do after you graduate – the recipe for a good life is to truly enjoy your job. Secondly, check the best universities that offer your desired programme. Thirdly, check the curriculum, research the lectors and find out what the connections of the university to the business are. Fourthly, check the facilities and the equipment, and finally, the tuition fees and expenses. Those are just a few of the criteria you need to consider. It is always a wise idea to make a list and compare each institution, because all of them have always pros and cons.
Go deeper in your research and find out more about the course. Check the type of exams and if the Masters programme consists of team work assignments, writing essays, etc. You need to check what the content is, if are you going to study what you find useful or if the course is filled with some non-practical elements. Furthermore, check the professors – you can read about their backgrounds, see what scientific work they have produced so far and what their passion is. Is there an internship required at the end of the course? Is the university offering help with finding this internship? – A couple of the important questions, which we suggest you look up on the university and programme pages.
If you want to do a research Masters that includes laboratory work, don’t forget to check the facilities at the universities - it is possible that at some they are way more advanced and developed than at others.
If you continue your studies in another country, the best you can do is to make a research on this country’s education system. Of course, you can take advantage of the ERASMUS programme and spend a semester somewhere you might later consider as your Masters destination. Another good source of information is to ask students that study there. However, keep in mind, that their opinion - depending on their experience - might be one-sided. You can read in forums and Facebook or Reddit groups in order to get as many opinions as you can.
Another thing is to meet with university representatives at the MASTER AND MORE Fairs around Europe and ask them in person all the questions that you have.
Almost all universities organise open days. If you have the possibility to participate, don’t hesitate and go. This activity will give you some precious insights on the university life and which will be the best for you. You will be able to see the facilities, lecture rooms, dormitories, clubs, etc.
The country and the city are also very crucial when choosing the best university for you. You will spend the next 1-2 years at this place and you might even find your first job at the same location. So, choose wisely. Start thinking about the business and the possible career prospects of the city your university is situated in. Both small and big cities have advantages and disadvantages. Think about what you prefer.
You will spend more time outside the university. Thus, you must think about your hobbies and interests and if you will be able to continue with them or if you need to think about new ones. What do the university and the city offer? Do you enjoy the sea side or prefer to be close to the mountains?
Another good point to take into account is your desired study programme: if you want to study a specific programme like Molecular Biology or Preservation, Marine Biology or even Architecture, then some locations are better for such courses than others. The cause is the business in a specific area, or the cultural heritage and the possibility to interact with the subjects of your new studies directly and on a daily basis.
One of the important topics for most students is the financing part of their studies. What every student does at first when finding a good programme is to check the tuition fees. However, very often they forget to browse and ask more about the financing opportunities that the universities or the countries offer.
Our advice it to go on the university website and check every page related to scholarships, grants and financing opportunities. It is obligatory to also check the government websites of the country where the university is situated and read whether you will be eligible for an additional scholarship or financial aid from the government.
Depending on your origin, some countries might have higher costs of living compared to your home country and it might be quite hard to manage studying without working. It is wise to check if the university offers part-time studies, and if the city has a good environment for working students.