By Saad Rahman
1. Tell us something about your education and work background
My name is Saad Rahman I currently live and work in Cardiff in the UK. I came to the UK in 2010 to study for a bachelor with honours in Finance, Accounting, and Management at the University of Nottingham. I graduated in July 2013 and was offered a job in Cardiff around the same time. I am currently on a graduate management scheme where I rotate between departments every six months. I have also had some experience in Management Consulting and Corporate Strategy through summer internships which I undertook while at University.
2. Why did you decide to go for such a course abroad?
Choosing the course I chose which was Finance, Accounting and Management were tricky. I say this because I had picked the science stream at school which followed the CBSE curriculum. So my subjects during my 12th grade were Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Computer Science and English. I had no previous knowledge of the course I was going to pursue at University which made me a little apprehensive. But the good thing about most undergraduate courses in the UK is that they do not assume any previous knowledge. I chose Finance, Accounting, and Management because it was during high school that I realised I liked the corporate side of things more than the sciences and wanted to change my field of study.
I chose the University of Nottingham because of its reputation and rankings among the other UK universities as well as its world rankings. The University of Nottingham is also a part of the prestigious Russell Group of universities which is made up of a total of 24 highly reputed universities in the UK.
3. What colleges were your initial choices? And why?
With undergraduate applications in the UK, you get a choice of 5 Universities to apply to with just one application. This is done through a portal called UCAS. Each university has a different minimum entry requirement for their courses. Hence my choices for universities to apply for varied depending on the entry requirements. I chose a couple of universities with relatively relaxed minimum entry requirements and a couple which was higher ranked with strict entry requirements, with this strategy I could cover my bases in terms of my choices. Nottingham was one of the two higher ranked, the other being the University of Warwick which was equally good. Unfortunately, I could not get into the University of Warwick since they had already filled their course, but Nottingham was still one of my preferred options.
4. How did you start with the college application process?
I first started out by researching how to go about the application process. There is a lot of helpful information on the internet to guide you through the whole process. Applications for undergraduate courses are made through a portal known as UCAS. The benefit of this portal is that a prospective student can apply to five different universities with just one application. The application is a fairly lengthy process; firstly all grades from classes 9 to 12th are required for the application. The application generally asks for predicted 12th standard grades if someone has yet to give the final exams or awaiting results which are generally the case. Secondly, a personal statement has to be written and attached with the application which basically describes the prospective student’s motivation towards the chosen course. Thirdly, a personal reference from a teacher or employer is also a requirement. I was not asked for an English language test at this stage. Also, later on, my grades for English in class 12were considered sufficient enough for any English language test requirement.
Once submitted, all communication and information are generally through the UCAS portal. Typically the universities, based on your initial application send out a conditional offer which is subject to the prospective student attaining specific grades or any English language test requirements. For example, my conditional offer for the University of Nottingham was subject to me attaining >85% overall average in my standard 12th final exams with Maths and English to be >85%. It might also be the case that a university considers the initial application good enough for its entry requirements and offers an unconditional offer at the first instance.
Once the prospective student has attained the conditions of the offer, proof of this has to be submitted to the University one wishes to accept the offer from. Upon confirmation of this the conditional offer changes to an Unconditional offer.
5. Which was the most difficult part of the admissions process?
The most difficult part of the application was first choosing the universities to apply for. Since there is so much information available I had to do a lot of research to choose the university that was best suited in terms of rankings and entry requirements.
6. How did you research the information?
I had to research a lot of information on the internet. There is so much information on the internet to look at which can guide you through the whole process. The UCAS website itself is very informative and explains the whole pre-application and post-application process. Most university websites are useful as well to decide which course to apply for. I also attended a general information session which the University of Nottingham international student office conducted in Bangalore at the time. They also had similar information session in other cities in India. The session was quite informative about the university and also the application process. I got to know about the sessions being conducted in India from the University website.
7. Did you have a mentor to guide you through the process?
Most universities in the UK have an international student office which is extremely helpful with any queries and questions regarding any part of the application. I was in touch with the international student office regarding any questions or queries that I had regarding the process. The international student office was very supportive and helpful.
8. How easy or difficult was the visa application process?
The visa process was fairly straightforward. Any student coming to the UK has to apply for a Tier 4 student visa. All the information regarding the visa process, documentation required, as well as proof of funds is easily available on the UK Borders Agency website. Also in most cases, the specific embassy websites have all the information as well. One has to have confirmation of an unconditional offer from a UK university to be able to apply for a student visa. I got to know about the whole visa process from the UKBA website, the visa form is not complicated and was not a problem for me to fill in. I did not have to attend an interview with a visa officer but had to submit the visa application with the necessary documentation in person.
9. How did your college life experience live up to your expectations?
The university experience was very different for me. I was quite apprehensive about entering into a foreign land which was very different in terms of society, cultural norms and people. I was extremely homesick for the first six months which I had anticipated. But after I got over my homesickness I started enjoying the university experience. The university experience in this part of the world is not just about studying and giving exams, it is more about a student’s initiation to adult life. I was looking forward to living on my own for the first time, to meet new people and obviously get decent enough grades! You meet so many people from so many different parts of the world, my university friends group is so varied with people from Jordan, Romania, France, Brunei, and many more countries.
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