Studying in the UK.

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Studying in the UK.

Postby Joren » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

Hi there,

Since I was 16 I looked forward to study at a university in Scotland. Now that the time is come I’m looking around. But one thing has scared me. The tuition fees. ‘At Edinburgh Napier you will pay tuition fees of £6,500 per year - a total of £26,000 if you study for four years.’
Myself originate from The Netherlands and our yearly tuition fees are about €1800,- on average. Now I know Edinburgh Napier isn’t the cheapest, but so far on average I found the tuiton fees of Scotland over £3000,-.
You can however get some funding; ‘If you are a full-time undergraduate student domiciled in the UK or one of the European Union countries you can apply for a government-funded loan to get your tuition fees paid up front. This means that you don’t need to worry about repaying your loans until after you graduate and are earning a salary of £15,000 per year (Scotland / EU)’.

What bothers me though is that the Total difference between studying here in the Netherlands or in Scotland can run up to 10k to 25k euro’s. And I’m asking myself if a 3 or 4 year study is really worth getting such debts.
As far as I’m up to date with this, it seems everyone in the UK has to pay this amount. I’m I completely mistaken? Am I looking at the wrongs things? Or am I just correct?
If so I’m wondering if there are some folk around here who have this government fund. Are you stuyding now? Or are you making a living? What do you have to pay each month? And is this common? Etc..

All in all I’m just somewhat put off, I wonder how big the deal about it is. And I would be delighted if you could share your experience.

Ps. I could not find a related thread.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

First things first, Scotland has a different tuition fees structure from the rest of the UK so make sure any information you get applies to Scotland rather than the rest of the UK.

Also, I thought that, as an EU national, you'd be charged the same fees as a local which, in the case of Scotland, I had thought was nothing (there is/was a massive fuss about all this because the way it was worded meant English students were being charged the full fees but EU students were getting in for free) so look into that.

Anyway, I'm English and planning to go to uni next year and, in England, the fees are pretty uniformly £9000/year since the government raised the maximum and, in the states, the fees are much higher still so £6500/year isn't too bad, it's more that continental Europe tends to have much lower fees than the rest of the world.

You should also consider that studying abroad can only help your career prospects.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Andromeda321 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:45 am UTC

I don't know the details of the UK system well enough for undergraduate (though I did apply there for my PhD, am now in the Netherlands as it turned out), but if you can't find a compromise don't forget there's also the option of going to university in the Netherlands and then going over there for a study abroad/ exchange program. If you do your research often universities have a reciprocal tuition program so you can study at the other school for a semester or a year and not have to pay too much extra... just a thought.

Another option of course is to take out student loans, but this is probably a more common think in the UK than the Netherlands because there's really not much need for them here. But then this is how most American students pay their outrageous tuition fees (if you think what you see in Europe is expensive tuition...)
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Angua » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

The way the student loans work here is that the money goes straight to the university, and then you start paying back when you start earning over a certain salary a year - you pay something proportional to the amount that you're earning, and if you never earn that much money, you don't end up paying it back. Anything outstanding after 25? (things have changed now) years or so gets wiped clean - so in that regard it's not too massive a debt if you just think of it as an added tax. You aren't under any obligation to start earning money right away to pay off your debt, as I believe happens (or at least, used to happen, they may have changed now) in the US.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:55 pm UTC

Angua wrote:The way the student loans work here is that the money goes straight to the university, and then you start paying back when you start earning over a certain salary a year - you pay something proportional to the amount that you're earning, and if you never earn that much money, you don't end up paying it back. Anything outstanding after 25? (things have changed now) years or so gets wiped clean - so in that regard it's not too massive a debt if you just think of it as an added tax. You aren't under any obligation to start earning money right away to pay off your debt, as I believe happens (or at least, used to happen, they may have changed now) in the US.


^This. Even if you do end up paying the tuition fees (and, as said in my first post, I had thought that you wouldn't), it is much more like a tax than an actual loan, for one thing it can't be taken into account by credit ratings people and the like and, as Angua said, the repayments depend on how much you earn and it gets written off after a while.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

However, this website seems to say that EU students are not required to pay currently. Not sure if that will be true next year though.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby AvatarIII » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:43 pm UTC

Angua wrote:The way the student loans work here is that the money goes straight to the university, and then you start paying back when you start earning over a certain salary a year - you pay something proportional to the amount that you're earning, and if you never earn that much money, you don't end up paying it back. Anything outstanding after 25? (things have changed now) years or so gets wiped clean - so in that regard it's not too massive a debt if you just think of it as an added tax. You aren't under any obligation to start earning money right away to pay off your debt, as I believe happens (or at least, used to happen, they may have changed now) in the US.


I believe the tuition fees stuff is changing this year, I've just started the Open University, and had I not started now, I would have to have got a much bigger student loan, as it stand it costs about £1000pa, which I can afford without a loan, however this September grant money is going to start going via that student, and therefore a loan becomes a necessity as the OU will be charging £5000pa, I am not sure if this is true for all universities though.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:50 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:However, this website seems to say that EU students are not required to pay currently. Not sure if that will be true next year though.


This is what I had thought was the case. Also, since this actually a Scottish government website and makes no reference to any change for next year (starting in september/october 2012), I guess Scotland hasn't increased its fees for this year (although the rest of the UK has).

AvatarIII wrote:I believe the tuition fees stuff is changing this year


I'm pretty sure that, whilst this is the case for most UK unis, it is not the case in Scotland (for the reason above), that said, the Scottish tuition fess situation may change, particularly if they do get independence.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Angua » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:52 pm UTC

The way the student loan works isn't changing though - more people will require a loan because of the higher fees, but the not paying back until a certain salary stays the same (the salary is higher under the new rules though), and it being wiped after a certain amount of time also stays (though I think it's 5 years later than the old system).
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:08 pm UTC

Note that EU students are not eligible for the maintenance loans.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Joren » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:48 pm UTC

Really appreciate the input so far, Specially the site Bigglseworth mentoined. I'm aware I'm not egilible for maintenance support. However I get that support from the Netherlands, if the university is acknowledged. Which I'm confident about, but would require confirmation. Other then that the best approach seems to make a phone call or send an e-mail with questions regarding the tuition fees either to the government and/or the desired university.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:45 pm UTC

I just did some digging on the Napier website (specifically this page) and I found this

The good news for non-UK EU students studying in Scotland is that you won't have to pay tuition fees if you start from year one at Edinburgh Napier University - these will be paid for by the Scottish Government through the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

To be eligible to have your tuition fees paid by SAAS, you must meet the following conditions:

*You are taking a full-time undergraduate course in Scotland, starting from first year, and plan to graduate in Scotland.
*You are a non-UK EU national, an EU overseas territories national or the family member of either.
*You have been ordinarily resident in the EU, the EU overseas territories, elsewhere in the EEA or Switzerland for the three years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course (the relevant date).


emphasis mine.

That sounds fairly conclusive to me. On another page it says that they'll need to be kept informed about any moves you or your family makes and, obviously, they'll need you to fill in extra forms but, I think you can be very confident that you will not need to pay any tuition fees (although there may be accommodation costs and, obviously other costs of living such as food to take into consideration) so you definitely shouldn't let fees put you off.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Mechrush » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:16 pm UTC

What is the attraction of going to a low to mid-ranked university in another country? I'd understand if you wanted an education only that country could provide, but I'm sure there are tens of similarly regarded institutions offering your course locally.

I see so many foreign students go to universities with "London" in the name without regard for quality.

Considering your grades, have you looked at other universities?
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Bharrata » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:40 pm UTC

Do any Americans have experience with earning a degree in the UK, whether Bachelors/Masters/PhD? It's always been a dream to go to Oxford or Cambridge and while that may sound crazy to most I believe I can actually do it, and I've been told it's not as hard to do as I think, but as far as something like that goes I know it's better to be prepared years ahead than to try and figure it out last minute...and I guess I just have very little clues about where to begin.

Anyone on the board who has done this or can offer suggestions?
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Angua » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:11 am UTC

There are definitely Americans doing their bachelors in Oxford. If you want to do medicine, there's a limit for international students on how many can get in, so competition is pretty fierce. I know that Cambridge doesn't take PhD students for physics from the states unless you have a Masters, but I don't think Oxford is so picky.

I can look stuff up about other subjects if you want.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:29 pm UTC

Bharrata wrote:Do any Americans have experience with earning a degree in the UK, whether Bachelors/Masters/PhD? It's always been a dream to go to Oxford or Cambridge and while that may sound crazy to most I believe I can actually do it, and I've been told it's not as hard to do as I think, but as far as something like that goes I know it's better to be prepared years ahead than to try and figure it out last minute...and I guess I just have very little clues about where to begin.

Anyone on the board who has done this or can offer suggestions?


Not an American, but I do have a place at Cambridge next year pending exam results so I can probably offer a slight insight.

If you'd be planning to start next year, you're too late I'm afraid, interviews take place in early December and applications need to be sent in before then. There's still more than enough time to apply next year though (my form was sent to them at the start of October and the deadline (for domestic students at least) is in mid October).

...

First, some statistics from Cambridge (I don't have any for Oxford).

There are, averaged across the entire university, about 4.5 applicants per place. This varies depending on subject but shouldn't significantly depending on college. Anyway, it varies from about 2.2 for Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic to about 12.5 for architecture.

That's not bad at all, I think there are courses at Nottingham for instance which are almost 30 applicant per place.

Of course, just because it's not very oversubscribed doesn't mean its a cakewalk. The reason it's oversubscribed is that, unlike lots of other universities, people self-select an awful lot so only those who are confident they can get in (and so are pretty good) will actually apply. This shouldn't dissuade you though, the fact you're thinking about applying means you're probably a good candidate so this should encourage you.

...

An important difference between UK universities and American ones.

You need to choose your subject before you apply rather than declaring your major in your second year as I believe is the case over there. This is a good thing if you're fairly certain what you want to do because it allows you to delve deeper faster, but if you're not very sure, it can lead to rash decisions so make sure you think it through carefully.

Luckily, at Cambridge moreso than other UK universities, the first year tends to be quite general before really specialising in the second year so you don't need to make up your mind that you want to be a geologist straight away, you can start by simply saying you want to study natural sciences (natsci). It also allows for easier switching between courses (it's possible to move to physics from maths, from natsci to compsci or from natsci to chemical engineering IIRC just using examples with natsci)

...

Where to begin.

I'm afraid I know nothing at all about the actual process by which overseas students actually apply, only a bit about what happens afterwards although I'm sure their website ([url]cam.ac.uk[/url] or [url]ox.ac.uk[/url] for cambridge or oxford respectively) will have all the relevant information.

I think the exact process once you've applied will depend on whether you applied to Oxford or Cambridge and the college you've applied to (or if you've made an open application (this doesn't seem like a great idea to me, particularly if you're a girl applying to Cambridge who doesn't want to end up at an all girl's college)) but will probably go something like this.

They'll contact you and, possibly in a later letter/email, tell you either that they're very sorry but they won't be asking you for interview or else inviting you to an interview. Exactly what they ask will then depend on where you live as well, but they'll probably offer a phone interview if flying over is very inconvenient.

The interview will probably be one or two 20 minute (ish) interviews (if you apply to Oxford, it might be more because you might be interviewing at other colleges as well) possibly with a test. The interviews and test will likely be entirely based on your subject with any general questions intended to put you at your ease rather than providing them with information they'll use to consider your application.

You'll then wait anxiously to hear back about how it went (Oxford tends to do this before Christmas, Cambridge up to a fortnight or so into January (at least for UK applicants)) and whether you've got an offer.

...

So that's a rough outline of the process.

When I was at my interview, there was one American (a physics graduate applying for medicine) and a Chinese guy (applying for physics IIRC) but I was applying to the second smallest college so at most there'd be far more other foreign students so you wouldn't be alone by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, a lot of the more specific advice depends on what subject you'd be applying for (or at least what sort of subject, whether you'd be applying for a humanity or a science for example) so I think this is about all the advice I can give for now. :D
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Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Bharrata » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:05 pm UTC

Thank you very much eSOANEM!

I'm not intending to apply for either school for several years at the very least, it would most likely be for a PhD in either Philosophy or Far East Studies depending on the school which I transfer to next fall. It's actually encouraging that somewhere like Cambridge only has a 4:1 applicant/acceptance ratio, a lot of the top schools in the States are much more competitive, though I guess it's tough to say whether or not that ratio should grow for graduate work.

It'll be at least 3 years before I'd be applying, probably more as I'd like to work in the private sector and save up the funds for such a big move and what I take to be a quite expensive education (English pounds are not kind to an America pocketbook), but when it comes to huge, essentially once in a lifetime, opportunities I like to be well-prepared.

Thanks again and good luck with your own acceptance. :D


Oh and thank you too Angua, I'm currently debating whether a Master's in Computer Science before going for my PhD would be wise or no - that's more dependent on if I feel I need more knowledge after completing my Bachelor's or not, or like you said, whether it helps in my PhD apps. Ideally I'd like to either be a consultant/small business owner or a Philosophy and Computer Science professor, so I'd like my education to leave me the option for both as I've heard being multi-disciplinary really helps in whether you can land a job as a professor.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:31 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm afraid I know nothing about any postgrad applications or statistics but I dare say their relationship to the US is broadly similar.

Out of interest, at undergrad level, philosophy has 5.5 applicants per place so is slightly more oversubscribed than average but still by no means worryingly so.

Good luck with your studies and thanks. :)
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Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Adacore » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:19 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:...it's possible to move to physics from maths, from natsci to compsci or from natsci to chemical engineering IIRC just using examples with natsci

I realise it's probably not relevant to the OP, but to study chemical engineering at Cambridge it's not merely possible to start with natsci, it's mandatory - you have to do first year physical sciences natsci, then specialise into chemeng. I believe this is true for most other engineering disciplines at Cambridge, but I'm not certain of that.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby wam » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:51 am UTC

Adacore wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:...it's possible to move to physics from maths, from natsci to compsci or from natsci to chemical engineering IIRC just using examples with natsci

I realise it's probably not relevant to the OP, but to study chemical engineering at Cambridge it's not merely possible to start with natsci, it's mandatory - you have to do first year physical sciences natsci, then specialise into chemeng. I believe this is true for most other engineering disciplines at Cambridge, but I'm not certain of that.


My understanding is that only Chemeng starts with natsci, all the rest of the engineering course, you do 1 year of general engineering, 1 year of a mixture of general a specific ( I think) and 1 year of specialisation. This was 5 years ago so I may be wrong!
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:45 am UTC

wam wrote:
Adacore wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:...it's possible to move to physics from maths, from natsci to compsci or from natsci to chemical engineering IIRC just using examples with natsci

I realise it's probably not relevant to the OP, but to study chemical engineering at Cambridge it's not merely possible to start with natsci, it's mandatory - you have to do first year physical sciences natsci, then specialise into chemeng. I believe this is true for most other engineering disciplines at Cambridge, but I'm not certain of that.


My understanding is that only Chemeng starts with natsci, all the rest of the engineering course, you do 1 year of general engineering, 1 year of a mixture of general a specific ( I think) and 1 year of specialisation. This was 5 years ago so I may be wrong!


This was my impression too. Can't say I've looked into it much though.
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby wam » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:28 pm UTC

I looked into it in lots of depth 5 years ago when applying but its all a bit fuzzy!!
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Adacore » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:57 pm UTC

I think you're right, actually - general engineering for non-chemeng courses rings a bell for me too. I was applying ten years ago (oh god, am I really that old?), so I'm probably both fuzzier and more out of date than you...
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby Game_boy » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:39 am UTC

You can do ChemEng starting from either NatSci or general Engineering.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby D.B. » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:18 pm UTC

Yep, can transfer to chem eng after 1 year of regular eng at cambridge. And yes, a couple of years of general engineering are mandatory, followed by specialisation later in the course. On the bright side you get two masters degrees out of it (BA MEng initially, but the BA is later upgraded leaving you as MEng MAcantab) although the latter is a weird one :? .

If you're applying to cambridge for post-grad study then you're going to have to contend with The Board Of Graduate Studies (BOGS). I've spoken to very few people who have had a positive experience with this - be prepared to jump through hops at short notice. Even if everything goes fine, it's possible you may not hear until very late in the process whether or not you have been accepted.

I'd also strongly recommend applying to a college which offers (or better still, guarantees) post-graduate accommodation during the first year of your studies, as finding an affordable room to rent in Cambridge at short notice at the beginning of the new academic year is an utter, utter nightmare. Also, when considering colleges get in touch with the college MCR (middle combination room) and ask them for info - MCRs are run by grad students, so they'll have up to date experience of grad life in their college which will go a bit beyond the usual stuff the college itself publishes.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:23 pm UTC

Regarding choosing colleges, it's often said that everyone (even those who've been pooled) goes to the best college. Whilst I'm sure that people tend to settle in quickly and casually start assuming their college is best, it's probably a good idea to work out which college you want fairly definitely and in good time.

Because of this, it would probably be a good idea, if you can, to visit Cambridge and have a look at the colleges. On paper, the college I've applied to didn't particularly stand out (and was initially off my short list as being too small) but when I visited it, it was the one where I felt most at home by a long way.

Obviously, if you're in the states, it'd be a long way to come just to look at some colleges, so don't worry if you don't/can't, there are plenty of other ways to find stuff out about colleges (the alternative prospectus and the student room forums spring to mind).
Gear wrote:I'm not sure if it would be possible to constantly eat enough chocolate to maintain raptor toxicity without killing oneself.

Magnanimous wrote:The potassium in my body is emitting small amounts of gamma rays, so I consider myself to have nuclear arms. Don't make me hug you.
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Re: Studying in the UK.

Postby ArchaicHipster » Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:58 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Regarding choosing colleges, it's often said that everyone (even those who've been pooled) goes to the best college. Whilst I'm sure that people tend to settle in quickly and casually start assuming their college is best, it's probably a good idea to work out which college you want fairly definitely and in good time.

Because of this, it would probably be a good idea, if you can, to visit Cambridge and have a look at the colleges. On paper, the college I've applied to didn't particularly stand out (and was initially off my short list as being too small) but when I visited it, it was the one where I felt most at home by a long way.

Obviously, if you're in the states, it'd be a long way to come just to look at some colleges, so don't worry if you don't/can't, there are plenty of other ways to find stuff out about colleges (the alternative prospectus and the student room forums spring to mind).


As well as this, it's important to note that there's hardly any academic difference between the colleges (except that certain colleges won't let you take certain less popular courses (like Education and Land Management, for example). What I did to choose a college to apply for an open day for was to look at the ones that were relatively close to the humanities building (even though none of the buildings are more than about a half-hour walk apart), then just looked at facilities (music rooms, et cetera), how often the choir performed (as I'm thinking of getting a choral scholarship, but I don't want it to eat too much of my time), and then stuck a pin in the map, more or less.
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