Choosing a university: how and why I chose to study in Tampere University

Why I chose Tampere University to complete my master's degree Photo:Justin Luebke/Unsplash

Choosing the right university can be a tough choice. Should I study abroad? Which university can offer an education of the highest quality? How do I finance my studies? Here's my story about how and why I chose Tampere University to complete my master's degree.

Undoubtedly, it is always a hard and complicated decision when it comes to choosing a place to study and live for the next two or four years, especially in higher education which will determine your career path. Like many others, I have struggled to choose the right university that would fit my life situation as well as my career goals. In this blog, I am going to share with you my journey, how and why I chose to study abroad in Tampere University, Finland, to begin a new chapter of my life.    

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. I lived in the most beautiful, romantic, dynamic, and diverse city on earth, the Big Apple. I had a nice and cozy apartment and worked as a social worker. However, in my field, it would take years and a little luck to get promoted to a management position with only a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, I decided to get a master’s degree to further advance my career. Practically speaking, the financial burden is a big concern for most graduate students because they have to drop everything and put a hold on their career to pursue higher education. My situation was no different.  

Universities in the United States or universities in Finland?

On average, U.S. graduate students pay approximately $80,000 for a master’s degree in public universities and roughly $150,000 to study in private universities. Unfortunately, even as a U.S citizen, we’re not offered financial aid for graduate programs, only student loans which you’re required to pay back within the next 10-15 years. On top of that, scholarships are extremely hard to come by.  

In the meantime, Finland offers education of the same high quality. Fun fact: according to a recent analysis by The Universitas 21 group, Finland rates top of the world’s higher education efficiency list. When metrics relating to the national income level are taken into account, the cost of obtaining a master’s degree in Finland is a great deal smaller compared to the U.S.. Furthermore, living expenses in Tampere city such as housing, food, and transportation are affordable and student budget-friendly. Last, but not least, Tampere University offers scholarships that are available and within-reach and which cover up to 50% or 100% of tuition.  

Tampere University Campus
According to a recent analysis by The Universitas 21 group, Finland rates top of the world’s higher education efficiency list.

On scholarships

Speaking of scholarships, how about other European universities? Do they, too, also offer scholarships as generous as Tampere University? Naturally, it is unrealistic to apply for only one university and then hope for the best. I applied for a total of 17 universities from 10 different European countries. As you can probably guess, the application fees to some were insanely expensive 😀. Luckily, I was offered admission by all of them. Some offered partial tuition scholarships, some full-tuition scholarships (Tampere University being one of them) and one full-free-ride scholarship that would cover both my tuition and living expenses.  

Needless to say, accepting the full-free-ride scholarship was the most logical option, and I went with it. Who would pass on such great deal? Studying stress-free for the next 2 years. Not having to consider between having a drink in a bar with your friends on a Friday night and staying home save that money for textbooks. The usual student life struggles.  

How Tampere University won me over

As I was waiting for some final paperwork from the university of my choice, I received a personal email from a professor who is the head of my major at Tampere University and who would be in charge of examining my master’s thesis. The professor welcomed me to the program and offered assistance and answers if I had any questions about the program. Additionally, the professor expressed how much she enjoyed reading my application and discussed how my career passion fits nicely to the program. From among the 17 universities, only Tampere University reached out to me personally. That completely won me over. I felt that Tampere University really cared about its potential students. With a little help from Google, I did some research about the professor I met. I found out that she has an outstanding career and an impressive resume. I read some of her publications and it made me eager to learn from her. So, I passed on the full-free-ride scholarship and chose Tampere University. The reason was simple: I wanted to study with the best, not just some random professors.  

So far, I have been studying at Tampere University for a month and a half, and let me tell you, it’s hard because my mind and my body are still in working mode and not in academic studying mode. Still, I’m loving and enjoying every single minute of my new chapter in life and looking forward to seeing what the future holds.  


About Dai 

I’m a Master’s degree student in Social Science Research, majoring in Public Policy Analysis. My background is Social Work in which I assisted people with disabilities and the homeless population in New York city. Currently I am living in Tampere and I LOVE THE COLD WEATHER.

Nguyen Dai
Nguyen Dai