Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I would make tea at the BBC.
August 12, 2009 7:22 PM   Subscribe

What would be the best route to go after finishing an AS degree? Many questions about New England, and the regular England, rolled into one inside.

I am starting community college in 2 weeks and, even though school hasn't even started yet, I've started to look ahead. I'm trying to figure out what I should do when I've graduated. I don't want to do anything impulsive; something fun for now but just expensive in the long run.
I live in Virginia, and I'm lucky because financial aid grants are covering me so far, but it's going to take a lot of research to keep myself out of debt when I go on to transfer.
I've started realising that the nagging feeling telling me to move out of the US isn't going away, and although going to an in-state school and just studying abroad would be the most logical option in the minds of most, of course I have to keep on until I uncover my every option.

1. I don't really want to stay in Virginia, but if it comes to paying $8,000 instead of $20,000, I will do it. I would like to find a college in New England to go to, one that has very good financial aid.
I found a place called Williams College in MA, which I just loved as soon as I saw the front page of the website, but they said they only accept about 4 out of the 110 transfer applicants they get each year. (?!) I couldn't compete with that, even if I did get a 4.0 GPA. (They also want a high school transcript, and my 1.5 GPA won't help me there. I am going to community college to start over.)
How can I find colleges in New England (DC to Maine) that have really decent need-based aid?

2. I've wanted to move to the UK for 5 going on 6 years now. I know I should study abroad first to see if I even like it, but I wonder what would really be the best option in case I did like it. If I studied abroad, I'd have to graduate at that US college, and I don't know what kind of visa I would even qualify for after graduating. I heard the best visa to get would be a student visa, and the fact that it can lead to a Tier 1 visa makes it sound even better. Should I just go for a non-study UK visit first? I could plan a trip. And take the train around.

3. More general UK questions. Is England really going "downhill" like I've heard so many times? Am I just so enchanted by the BBC that it's clouded my judgment? I'd consider moving to Wales, maybe Scotland, but I am most attached to England. What are the facts here? I haven't heard anything except for the vague..."You'll never get a job...it's all just immigrants living there now...British people are all trying to move to the US now..." Maybe it was all just said by a bunch of people who lived in and hated London. Isn't the US just as bad, or am I missing something?

4. More importantly, would I even be able to get a job? Or do they give all the jobs to EU students and I could never do anything except answer phones until I die? And what's all this about "No self-employment"? Will I be able to play my guitar in my one-man band anymore?

5. Is there any way to immigrate that is as simple as the Tier 4 Student Visa seems? Immigration, of course, is just speculative. I don't know what I'm planning to become, but I'm sure I won't make enough money to get all the points I would need to be a "highly skilled worker".

6. Would I be able to afford living in the UK? I lived in Chicago for a year just fine; sure I had financial aid and a job though. Are the grants/scholarships available to the average everyday non-handicapped/veteran/singlemom/hispanic/4.5GPA people like me?

If I could only afford to study abroad, I guess I wouldn't die, but that leads back around to question #1 again.
Or maybe...go to college in-state and transfer in? What does a BA count for there? Do I have to complete a whole BA degree in the UK to qualify for the Tier 1 Post-Study Visa?

7. Will they hate me, an American? I don't pick up a lot of enemies easily, but you never know.

Apparently, an AS degree is only equivalent to a Foundation Degree and I'd have to go for the full 3 years to get a BA. Those over-achievers.
Maybe I should call a university and ask, but it always seems like they know as much as I do at their international office, and different schools might have different rules.

I think that's it. Thanks for any and all advice you can give me. I guess I'm just trying to do the all-elusive "do what I want and not lose any money doing it". I've read other questions here about moving, but it seems like they all already had some kind of job lined up, which I am far, far away from having.

And sorry my questions are always so darn long.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Education (13 answers total)
 
Williams is incredibly difficult to get into (unless you're a varsity athlete), but lucky for you, New England (which, I have to point out, consists only of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) is chock full of small bucolic colleges, many of them not all that hard to transfer into. Financial aid makes it a little trickier (but not impossible). A little research will pull up literally hundreds of colleges and universities in New England (hundreds more if you include the rest of the northeast).

I'd actually recommend you look at state schools if need-based aid is really important. UVM (University of Vermont) is located in Burlington, which has the same New England valley town aesthetic as Williams. UMass Amherst is much bigger, but is located in a cool part of Western Massachusetts very close to Amherst College, Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and Hampshire. UMass and the other schools are part of a consortium that allows students to take classes at any member college-- Amherst College is a beautiful little private school along the same lines as Williams, and just as hard to get into, but as a UMass student you can have access the same professors/walk around the campus/whatever.

Seriously, though, this little comment doesn't even scratch the surface of the worthwhile schools in New England. Do a little research, there's no need to get your heart set on one place.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:55 PM on August 12, 2009


Your question was way too long for me to read it all but this info may help:

I don't know how old you are, but, both Smith College and Mt Holyoke (both in Massachusetts) have programs for non-traditional students that offer substantial financial aid packages. I went to Smith through their Ada Comstock program and it changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. Get the minimum number of credits you need to qualify for the program and transfer - there is no reason to get an associates and the more time you spend at one of these top notch schools the more you will benefit.
posted by a22lamia at 8:07 PM on August 12, 2009


Please note that you'd pay out-of-state tuition at UMass and be last in line for need-based financial aid as a tranfer/out-of-state student.

Williams, Amherst (not UMass; Amherst College is a small, private liberal arts college like Williams), Smith, and My Holyoke (the latter two are women's colleges) are all highly selective. Smith College has the Ada Comstock Program, which is for non-traditional students; you may qualify when you're done with your AA degree. I've known several women in this program, and both they and it are remarkable.

A lot of these are questions - especially the ones about transfer options - you should talk to your adviser or whomever is in charge of helping students at your community college figure out how and where to transfer to a four-year school. They will be able to help you look at financial aid options as well. Make good use of them!
posted by rtha at 8:09 PM on August 12, 2009


Whoops, should've previewed.
posted by rtha at 8:10 PM on August 12, 2009


I'm a U.S. citizen who moved to the U.K. for five years, and I'm now back in the U.S. You need to visit there first before you decide to immigrate. Plan a vacation, or once you transfer to your four-year school, look into a study abroad program. It may turn out that you don't even like it there after you visit, or you'll decide being there for a semester is more than enough.
posted by snugglebunny at 8:28 PM on August 12, 2009


snugglebunny: What made you move back?
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 8:35 PM on August 12, 2009


The Mount Holyoke counterpart to Smith's Ada Comstock program is the Frances Perkins program.

I can't begin to answer the questions beyond #1, but it sounds like you need a good guide to colleges. Back in the dead-tree era, I used a print handbook from the Yale Daily News, but now it looks like College Prowler is the hip thing. I'd say take their subjective ratings with a grain of salt, but it looks like they give good information on admission rates and average financial aid award.

Yes, most (all?) four-year colleges that you might transfer into will want to see your high school transcript. Your low grades in high school will not necessarily torpedo your application, so don't be put off by that requirement. You must demonstrate a strong turnaround in community college, though.

One more thing: there can be a lot of variation in what kind of fin aid packages one person will be offered by different colleges, and there can be a lot of variation in what kind of fin aid packages one college will offer to different students. So do your research, but don't rely too heavily on either official statistics or personal anecdotes. You won't really know what's in the fin aid cards for you until you apply and get admitted. Don't put all your eggs in one basket—apply to your dream school, but also to some acceptable alternatives.
posted by Orinda at 10:35 PM on August 12, 2009


I just used the College Prowler site to run a comparison of several small, private, highly-regarded, New England colleges in the same general vein as Williams. They ranged in selectivity from a 13% admissions rate (Dartmouth) to 53% (Mount Holyoke), and the average financial aid awards ranged from 58% of tuition + room and board (Dartmouth again) to 82% (Mount Holyoke again, hmmm). There's also a whole world of possibilities beyond this handful—I agree with oinopaponton that you should look at UMass and UVM, and there are tons of smaller, lower-profile, but still very good schools (both public and private) in New England. Spend some time browsing through the College Prowler and other college guide websites and you'll start to get a feel for the possibilities.
posted by Orinda at 11:03 PM on August 12, 2009


am amused by the Britain going downhill comment. Maybe it's because I live here, but I've never heard this!

Yes there are lots of immigrants here, but isn't the US the same?! They are just from different places. Personally I like the multicultural hotpot. And it definitely depends on where you choose to go. Yes you can afford to live in the UK, as long as you don't pick an expensive place. I lived in Charlottesville for an academic year, and costs were comparable with my costs now. If anything food is a bit cheaper here. English people will not hate you as an American, there are plenty of Americans here. Possibly if you open a conversation with 'so britain is going downhill?' you might find differently ;-)

All in all, you can't decide to live somewhere without visiting first, so time to plan that trip. If you can do a year abroad and study even better, but I'd suggest a short trip first. One thing that is true - summers don't really seem to exist first, and it really does rain a lot.
posted by nunoidia at 12:09 AM on August 13, 2009


Only qualified to answer a few bits. Lets have a go.

"Is England really going "downhill" like I've heard so many times? Am I just so enchanted by the BBC that it's clouded my judgment?"

No. And yes. Dont know how or when you heard it and in what context. Mostly, it's a perfectly nice place to live, and we have some problems with overreaching at the moment on the part of the government. We talk about it a lot (in the Tabloids,) but honestly, you wont really be affected. I hate to say it - if you aint doing anything wrong, you've (stastically speaking) nothing to worry about.

The vast majority of people are happy. The only thing that really makes me want to leave is the weather. Some people like that we have 'weather'. I dont like the fact that 80% of the time, its miserable. Our winters are 6 months of grey. Might not be accurate, but it feels like it. Summer is often a 2 week affair, with moderate days, like today the month or so before and after. Its sunny this week, last week, it didnt stop raining. Temperatures can be (celsius) 12 one day, and 30 the next. Ignore the forecasts, they're usually worthless.

We have crappy areas like anywhere, and no where as scary as some of the crappy areas in the US. We have gun problems on a tiny scale. Most gun incidents are major news. You wont get shot.

Wales/Scotland are easily more beautiful. England is easily the best (I am biased) but if you fancy Scotland, never heard anyone complain loudly about Edinburgh - I'd happily move there, and my extended family live there. Never known one person to say "I'm moving to Wales!". YMMV.

What are the facts here?

Most people can only tell you their anecdotal opinions. No one one knows everything. My life is good, others is bad. You reap what you sow. Immigrants? Yes. Running amok? No. I'd be more worried about the locals - seriously. Town centres on a friday/sat night are no fun unless you like often violent drunks shouting at you or worse. Easy to avoid though.

My favourite - serious - question asked to me by a couple of guntotin' californians, was "You ever go to the soccer? [yes] How do you handle all the violence and the fighting?" which I persued their motives for asking. They said, whenever a story on the "news" was shown, it was invariable about football violence. I make point of watching mainstream news when in the US, and its slightly scary that i've never seen a positive news story about another country. Unless its about the royal family, which is only really interesting to the US media I believe.

Personally, I live in Manchester, in North West england and I love it. I love London - to visit. Manchester is a great city, and I recommend it highly. I'm biased - but every similar answer you get will be biased. Its a good sized city, lots going on, gets all the shows that London gets, and the "people" are friendlier IMHO.

Will I be able to play my guitar in my one-man band anymore?

Yes I'm sure you can!
posted by daveyt at 5:50 AM on August 13, 2009


Background: I'm an American who has lived abroad for over a third of his adult life, about twelve years in London. I own a flat here, took a Masters in Quantitative Finance here in 1998, working as an Investment Banker but I'm taking a couple of years off banking to finish an MBA. I'm teaching Finance and Econometrics at a few Universities part time, just for fun while I complete my Masters dissertation.

I'll answer what questions I can about the UK.


"2. I've wanted to move to the UK for 5 going on 6 years now. I know I should study abroad first to see if I even like it, but I wonder what would really be the best option in case I did like it. If I studied abroad, I'd have to graduate at that US college, and I don't know what kind of visa I would even qualify for after graduating. I heard the best visa to get would be a student visa, and the fact that it can lead to a Tier 1 visa makes it sound even better. Should I just go for a non-study UK visit first? I could plan a trip. And take the train around."

If you've never been here you should visit first. If you do study here after you complete your degree you can easily get a two year work permit, no questions asked.



"3. More general UK questions. Is England really going "downhill" like I've heard so many times? Am I just so enchanted by the BBC that it's clouded my judgment? I'd consider moving to Wales, maybe Scotland, but I am most attached to England. What are the facts here? I haven't heard anything except for the vague..."You'll never get a job...it's all just immigrants living there now...British people are all trying to move to the US now..." Maybe it was all just said by a bunch of people who lived in and hated London. Isn't the US just as bad, or am I missing something?"

Where would have heard that England is going downhill? By most objective measurements (health, longevity, GDP per person, etc) the UK is far ahead of the US or at least its equal. Life here is pretty good, not as good as some Continental nations (I like Spain myself), but I feel better off here than I did in Manhattan.

Note: all British people are not trying to move the America - not everyone wants to live in the US.

I could return to the US if I wanted to, but I'd rather not. My wife is Dutch and we've got a second flat in Amsterdam; we could easily live in Holland but we prefer England.




"4. More importantly, would I even be able to get a job? Or do they give all the jobs to EU students and I could never do anything except answer phones until I die? And what's all this about "No self-employment"? Will I be able to play my guitar in my one-man band anymore?"

The job market is a meritocracy, once you've got a visa. "No self-employent?" There are self-employed in England - someone has dumped a load of misinformation on you.


"5. Is there any way to immigrate that is as simple as the Tier 4 Student Visa seems? Immigration, of course, is just speculative. I don't know what I'm planning to become, but I'm sure I won't make enough money to get all the points I would need to be a "highly skilled worker"."

Don't worry about permanent residence ("highly skilled worker"); if you decide to study here, finish a degree here you'll be able to stay. England, like most other developed nations, is aging. They all want - NO NEED - younger citizens. Move here, study here, work here, stay out of trouble here and you'll let you stay. Its pretty easy actually.



"6. Would I be able to afford living in the UK? I lived in Chicago for a year just fine; sure I had financial aid and a job though. Are the grants/scholarships available to the average everyday non-handicapped/veteran/singlemom/hispanic/4.5GPA people like me?"

Assuming you're coming to study, students can work 20 hours a week, sometimes more.


"7. Will they hate me, an American? I don't pick up a lot of enemies easily, but you never know."

Most British like Americans. I've lived or worked in 28 countries, including many that were overtly very, very hostile to US interests. People distinguished ME from the US PRESIDENT and his policies. I've never had a problem, even during the height (low) of GW Bush's reign while I was working in Arab nations.

A general rule no matter where you are: treat people well and you'll be treated well.

You'll be fine.

"Maybe I should call a university and ask, but it always seems like they know as much as I do at their international office, and different schools might have different rules."

What Universities are you asking at? The entrance rules are very, very standardised - government defined to some extent actually - and we don't see too much variance. Honestly I'm surprised to read this.

If you'd like to pursue this please MeMail me and we'll discuss offline. I can give you leads to Admissions Officers here in the UK who won't be confused by the international aspect of your situation.
posted by Mutant at 6:25 AM on August 13, 2009


I had an American friend who was an Anglophile, had a Union Jack on her car, was convinced that she loved the UK, and had even enjoyed it here while she was here ON HOLIDAY.

Then she got a six-month working visa, flew over, and FROZE. Despite all our well-intentioned prodding, getting her out of the house to, y'know, live life in London, was very tricky. She moved back two months later.

Moral of the story: Come over here first for a holiday. See if you like it. If you love it, research ways of getting here. But don't be too surprised to get cultureshock for the first few months. Get past that, and you'll have as good a time as the Brits.
posted by almostwitty at 6:58 AM on August 13, 2009


I'd recommend studying abroad for a year in the UK while completing a US degree. If you like the UK and you like school, you could apply for an advanced degree at a UK institution. If you STILL like it, you'll have had more time and more opportunities to make the connections that will help you find a job and stay.

BUNAC would have been a good option to try it out, but unfortunately with recent UK visa restrictions, isn't not as easy/appealing. If you have the connections to find an internship in the UK from the US, it could be a good foot-in-the-door opportunity for getting longer-term employment with a British company.
posted by srah at 7:38 AM on August 13, 2009


« Older Renting houses that are on the...   |  Source of comedy sketch about ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.