Choosing where to study: Is money more important than prestige?

is money important
When it comes to choosing a uni, student city or country to study at, is money or prestige more important? Let's have a look at it. Source: Leon Neal/Pool/AFP

Is money important when picking what and where to study?

In one survey, more than half of students and recent graduates said money was the deciding factor when choosing a major or career, Forbes reports.

You might find that you’re leaning towards a specific uni, city or country based on whether you can afford them too —  even searching for courses that’ll lead to the highest salaries

After all, uni is expensive. Studying abroad can be even more so.

Tuition fees in countries like the UK start from 10,000 pounds and can go up to 38,000 pounds or more for medical degrees, according to the Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees.

Times Higher Education estimates that your undergraduate education in the US can cost up to an average of 35,800 US dollars per year. In Canada, it costs an average of 6,800 Canadian dollars per year for an undergraduate degree. 

That’s not including your rent, food, transport, fun stuff, and more.

Add the prospect of an upcoming recession, and it’s natural that you’re asking why is money important when you’re planning out what’s set to be the most exciting phase in your life.

Let’s dive deeper into the question before thinking about studying overseas for your undergraduate degree:

is money important

Good financial habits are not only great to cope with a global recession, but can also help you in your life after graduation. Source: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

Why is money important? 

Without money, we won’t have enough to pay for food, electricity, and internet, which all adds up. 

Studying abroad, these are expenses you’ll have to handle on your own, with no parents to help if you run into trouble.

Not having enough to pay the Internet bill, for example, could mean you’ll have to call the provider to fix it — an unnecessary effort that’ll disrupt your day. Worse, you’ll be without the Internet, maybe for days.

Don’t pay your tuition fees on time and you could be barred from classes.

You don’t need a lot of money but it’s important to have enough so that you could get the degree and experience you want abroad.

How the right university, city or country can help make your future brighter

Now that you know that money is important, let’s move on to why you should know how to choose the right uni, city, and country to study.

If you’re studying a professional degree like law, where you studied has a big impact on the salary you’ll earn.

Some of the highest-paid lawyers in the US are those who have graduated from Vanderbilt University, Stanford University, Cornell University, University of Chicago, and Yale University. 

Those studying business should look at cities that house Fortune 500 companies (a list of 500 of the largest companies in the US compiled by Fortune magazine every year).

Cities like Chicago have around 30 Fortune 500 companies, providing opportunities for those working in law, architecture, engineering, and more. 

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto has a campus located in downtown Toronto, which is a large commercial and financial hub.

Have you also wondered why countries like the US, UK or Canada are popular among international students? The answer: post-graduate opportunities. 

graduate visa allows you to stay in the UK for at least two years after graduation. You can also consider applying for the Post-Graduation Work Permit in Canada and the Optional Practical Training in the US.

With these visas, you can legally work in your host countries after graduating and extend your time there.

is money important

In Asia, some students are feeling the pressure to graduate from a prestigious uni. Source: Narinder Nanu/AFP

Does prestige matter?

Is money important or is prestige more important? Should you choose the most expensive university?

These are good questions to ask. While not all prestigious unis are expensive, top-tier institutions tend to charge higher tuition fees. Some are even located in expensive cities.

Take the California Institute of Technology, for example. An undergraduate programme during the 2020-21 academic term costs students US$54,570 — around US$10,000 more than the average.

The average cost of living in California is US$46,636 per year.