Choosing a university for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree abroad is anything but easy. It can be especially challenging for fresh high school graduate who — weeks after finishing their studies — have to make one of the most important decisions in their life: where and what to study at university.
This is where the voice of other students comes in. Student reviews are some of the most relevant and accurate descriptions of life at a particular university or in a specific region. But why are these reviews so important, and how can you contribute? Let’s find out!
Help other students choose the right university for them
Remember when you first chose a university for a degree abroad? It probably wasn’t super easy or straightforward. From tuition fees and living costs to the academic standards and on-campus life — there were so many factors to consider.
And new (international) students are facing the same challenges. So, what’s new? The fact that now you have the necessary experience and, as an alumnus, you can help others decide if your former university is the ideal place for them.
You might be surprised, but based on a small survey we’ve run, over 50% of students rely on other people’s reviews to choose a university abroad. Some of the main factors in which they’re interested are:
- costs of living
- tuition fees
- the environment and people in that city
- sensitive topics concerning the university (e.g. racism)
- the difficulty of applying at that university
- students events organised by the university
- other services provided, such as mental health care
- employability in relation to the university’s diplomas
By writing just a few lines or maybe 1-2 paragraphs about your study experience, you can offer these new and aspiring students the necessary insights to make a better choice, a more informed choice, and, hopefully, the right choice for them.
Student reviews help universities improve
Writing a review of your university can also help the institution itself. If enough graduates evaluate their overall experience — courses, professors, challenges — the universities can then use that data to decide what they need to improve and what they should keep as it is.
For example, if enough students complain that a specific course isn’t particularly useful or the materials are too outdated, they might decide to either alter the curriculum, merge it with another course or simply buy more relevant books and study materials.
The same goes for a new professor, who maybe is just starting out at the university. If most of the students praise him/her and the classes, the university can decide to offer a raise or give him/her the opportunity to teach more courses and develop further.
In this way, almost any evaluated aspect can be used to improve the overall student experience. Of course, it’s up to each university to look at these student reviews (or even consider them) and then use the insights to improve the quality of their academic offering.
Student review are more valuable than university rankings
There are many international university rankings out there. Some of the most popular ones are provided by:
And while their rankings are useful, they don’t always focus on criteria that are necessarily useful to students. For example, these rankings are created by looking at the university reputation, the number of published academic papers, the number of graduates, and so on.
Some factors are relevant, like the employability rate after graduation. But in general, the rankings don’t change much from one year to another, and universities only swap places — at least when we talk about the famous lists of ‘top 10’.
This is where student reviews can come in and fill the gap. A review is a more personal, more relevant description of the student life at a specific university or college.
While student reviews do take into account the facilities and overall academic quality, they can also tell a more detailed story about the positive and negative aspects of every academic institution — and make no mistake, there’s no such thing as a perfect university.
As long as they are genuine and balanced, university reviews left by students can provide insights and descriptions that global university rankings simply can’t.
Turn the tables: it’s your time to evaluate the university
Okay, we’ll admit: the title of this section is a bit tongue-in-cheek (not intended seriously), but there’s enough truth in it, so we couldn’t simply dismiss or skip it.
We know being a student isn’t always easy. Sure, there are parties, lost nights, and a lot of fun and unforgettable moments, but when it comes to studies, assignments, and examinations… the fun is long gone.
For at least 3 or 4 years, you’ve gone through all types of classes and professors, and each one had a way to evaluate you, mostly from an academic point of view.
After graduation, a student review represents the perfect opportunity to turn the tables. Now it’s your turn to evaluate them:
- What did you like the most?
- What could have been better?
- What services and professors deserve the most praise?
- What would you change about the degree or the university?
Writing a university review won’t take longer than watching one of your favourite YouTube vloggers or channels, but it allows you to critically appraise your former (or current) university and provide help to others in this whole process.
How to write a university review well
Throughout this entire article, we’ve mentioned how university reviews can be immensely helpful and valuable to other students. But there’s a catch: university reviews are only as good as the information they provide.
If you only write general statements — “I had a great time at this university, I wouldn’t change anything” — or biased and vague opinions — “I don’t feel the university provided enough support to students” — you won’t help too many people.
When you give feedback or write a review, it’s essential to be specific and provide an accurate picture of the university. You can start from the overall impression you have and then quickly mention the positive stuff. In the end, it’s a good idea to write 1 or 2 things that could’ve been better.
Example of a well-written university review
The review itself doesn’t have to be too long. Usually, 3-5 sentences or 1-2 paragraphs will do just fine as long as you write them well. Here’s an example of a well-written university review we’ve come up with:
“I loved studying at X university. The academic standards are high, but the professors and examinations are fair. I’ve had more than enough time between classes to have fun with colleagues and travel around the town. The university is very supportive, and I got all the help I needed as an international student.
While living on-campus was fun, I feel the construction/renovation works should’ve been finished during the summer break. The noise was a bit too much at times. Overall, I recommend studying at X university.”
Now it’s your turn to help others and leave a university review.