June 26, 2013 by Andrew Schwieder
After a lot of consideration, I have decided to transfer out of the William & Mary St Andrews Joint Degree Programme after four semesters and, as a result, will be returning to William & Mary this fall as a regular student. I would not consider myself a cautionary tale for people who are considering to study in the Programme, but I would like to outline the reasons for my decision as well as how this has affected and will affect my study.
First, I feel like I should say that I love the town of St Andrews, everything from the design of the town to the students that I met. On the other hand the main drawback for me was that St Andrews is expensive. If you want to go out on the weekends then you should expect to be paying a fair amount of money depending on what you want to do. There are the balls and events that you have to spend money on to gain entry, that plus the price of food and drink can add up to a lot for just one night. Plus the Tesco in town (a food market chain pretty much equivalent in size to a mini mart like Piggly Wiggly) is rumored to have the 2nd most expensive prices in the UK. That’s not to say that you can’t find a meal for less than 3 pounds if you want, but if you are buying alcohol it’s hard to avoid spending a fair amount of money. Plus what a lot of Americans forget is that you have to consider the conversion rate (about 1.54 at the time of writing) in addition to the cost it takes to transfer your money into a Scottish bank or out of an ATM with an American account (about $30 for every $1000 you transfer money from a US bank to a Scottish bank).
Since students in the Programme pay the same tuition regardless of whether they are out-of-state or in-state, those who are out-of-state pay comparatively less while those who are in-state, like me, pay more, even for the years spent at William & Mary. My decision basically came down to whether I could justify the extra costs of the Programme, and in the end I could not.
However, I did have a lot of fun with the people I met and the activities that I got to do there and I do not regret my decision to play the odds and try out the Programme. I did however recognize that I needed to move on from the Programme and pursue more conventional (and cheaper) route of education. However I will continue to write about how my trip to St Andrews has affected me in the long run.