6 Factors to consider when choosing a university course

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The factors to take into consideration will be heavily dependent on why you want to pursue education. One of the purposes of this website is to provide information on finding a job so you can have the lifestyle you want. In this article we will assume the reason why you’re attending university is because you want to find a job.

If you are considering moving abroad, it will be very confusing given the number of factors to be considered. There are an array of courses available from many universities spread across multiple countries. Each country with different costs of living and laws. Let’s review some of the factors to consider when selecting your university course abroad:

  1. Identify the job you want – Connect with people on LinkedIn, ask questions.
  2. Course – Skills you will have for your CV, university rank, cost and duration.
  3. Review the industry – Salaries, probability of finding a job importance of education in the industry.
  4. Cost of living – Taxes, food and accommodation are significant factors to consider.
  5. Legal – Are there any restrictions on working, before/after your studies.
  6. Life – Ensure you will be able to have a positive lifestyle, with good work life balance.

 

Identify the job you want

It’s important to understand what role you would like to have in the future. Also, it is much better to speak with people who do those roles and get their opinion. There is a lot of misinformation being disseminated purposefully by companies. In reality most roles tend to be very monotonous (particularly in financial services.). Companies often embellish roles to attract better quality candidates.

For example, I took up a role in audit with a big four company. What I thought I would be doing and what I actually did were completely different. If I could go back in time I would not have chosen a role as an auditor. If I had taken the initiative and spoken to people who actually do the role I would have chosen a different career path.

The best thing to do is to reach out to people on LinkedIn and ask them for their advice. Most people would be very sympathetic to a university student and will be happy to share their advice.

Course

When you are clear on a career path the next step will be to compare the course to the job descriptions to ensure you are getting the necessary experience needed to get the role you want.  There’s no point in spending 1 – 4 years of your time pursuing a course only to realise after it doesn’t meet any of the criteria of jobs in your desired field.

Other important factors are the cost of the course (very low in Germany v USA), the duration (Masters in Ireland 1 year v Germany 2 years) and the university ranking. It’s important to consider the extra time you need to study is a cost in terms of lost income as you could be working full time sooner if the course duration was shorter.

Review the industry

It’s not always necessary to pick the university with the highest ranking. That depends on the industry requirement. For example, in IT, very little importance is put on formal education. If you want to be a programmer, most of the emphasis will be on experience and very little on formal education. The only reason why most people would attend a university would be to get a visa. For these industries it’s better for you to go with the cheapest and shortest course possible.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you are considering a role where the industry places a high amount of importance on formal education (eg financial services) it would be better for you to select a course with a high university ranking.

It’s important to consider the number of jobs available and the level of demand for your future skills in your industry  For example, in Ireland we have a high demand for IT & Financial professionals. We also have a shortage of people with language skills. However, in other industries there is either oversupply or very low demand such as primary school teaching, hospitality etc. It’s important you review the level of demand for your skills in each country you are considering moving to.

Cost of living

The cost of living in each city will be a major factor to consider and may be a major constraint in selecting a university course. Major elements to consider are taxes, rent and food.

For Ireland you can get more information on taxes here. You’ll see Ireland compares quite well when you have an income below €30,000 but quite poor when your income exceeds €60,000. In Dublin at the moment there is an accommodation crisis. It is very difficult to find accommodation and the cost is very high compared to other countries.

Legal

You should consider the legal factors in each country you intend to study in. Often these factors will restrict your ability to find a job. For example, the UK has recently introduced new rules which allow foreign students to stay and work for 2 years after they graduate. In the USA, you cannot work off campus for your first year of study.

Life

It’s important to be able to have fun while studying. Some cities are easier to start a new lift than others. Often it can be difficult for those coming from abroad to make new friends. When considering life in a new city reach out to people via facebook groups to get a better understanding of how life is and is it easy to make new friends.

For example, Dublin is home to thousands of people from abroad. Because of the number of international companies such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn etc. setting up their headquarters here in Ireland it has created a lot of jobs which can not be filled by just Irish people. Also, because of our liberal visa policy, it has attracted a large number of students to study at university and to study English. As a result a lot of foreign people have come to Dublin to start a new life.

If you come to Dublin you will find a lot of people who have just arrived trying to start a new life and make new friends. Websites such as meetup.com are also very popular as there is a strong demand for social events in Dublin.

More complete list of factors to consider