University College Dublin

International universities can initially seem like a…well foreign idea. It’s new. It’s far. It’s expensive?? Well not really. At least not the expensive part. Oftentimes I find that the idea of an international university doesn’t linger long enough for a student to discover the hidden gem across the seas. And that’s a shame, because it’s kind of amazing.

I toured the University of College Dublin (UCD) in Dublin, Ireland. Toured isn’t really a word to describe it though. I experienced UCD. I experienced not only the broad campus that feels very much like an American one back home, but the warmth and subtle (or not so subtle) humor of the Irish people and the widely accredited ranked programming at UCD that will not only prepare students for their future careers, but for life.

After a direct 9 and a half hour flight from LAX I found myself driving (well not driving, that’d be dangerous since it’s on the opposite side of the road) through the City Centre on my way to my hotel. About 20-30 minutes from the airport you’ll find UCD. Transportation is incredibly accessible. Aircoaches (buses) will take you directly from the airport or a taxi if you prefer. All in all, easy. The Dublin airport itself is quite simple to navigate as well, which can be intimidating to a new student. When you’re heading back to the states there is even a US Pre-Clearance Customs that bypasses the customs process when you touch back down in Los Angeles. 

Let’s talk about Dublin. A smaller city in Ireland with shops, restaurants, pubs, booming tourism and a growing tech industry with tech mongrels such as Google and Microsoft. A young city filled with people walking the cobbled streets, singing, laughing, dancing and taking pictures. Dublin is friendly. It has history and I can really see students happy here.

UCD is located just outside the City Centre about 15 minutes away via bus or taxi or walking. What I love about this is that you have access to the amenities of a city, but have the traditional college campus feel and can get out of the hustle and bustle to study and to call your home. Check out the photos below for a view of campus!

Let’s talk about programs. There’s a TON on their website and admissions is really transparent. Unlike holistic admissions in the U.S. you’ve got clear minimum GPA and testing requirements for specific programming. I will say that you should have an idea of what you want to study, however within the area of study you choose there is more flexibility than it seems. For example if you’re interested in science, but aren’t sure if you want to end up in majoring in Chemistry and Chemical Sciences or Biomedical and Biomolecular Science you can enter in the College of Science and have the opportunity to take coursework in your first year before absolutely deciding on a course of study (major). There are even built in elective coursework called Horizons where students can take courses from other degree pathways throughout the year to enrich your education. The con would be if you enter in the arts and then decide you want engineering or architecture, something completely different, that may be tough.

Again, check out the website directly and just choose the discipline that you’re slightly considering and start reading more, there’s not enough room to put it all here and you’ll get way more up-to-date information online:

College of Arts and Humanities

Ranked in English, History and Modern Languages, National Folklore Collection, music, creative arts performance all available on varying levels of experience. Study languages, culture, music, etc. Humanities includes 9 different pathways of areas to study with an internship and study abroad option in year 3 and research project in year 4. A lot of flexibility.

College of Business

Bachelor’s in Business Law available (internship or study abroad accessible in your program) Choose your specialty throughout program (finance, accounting, etc.) International business program available includes a one year abroad experience in second language. Accreditation recognized in United States.

College of Engineering and Architecture

Architecture: Millions in research funding, curriculum includes practical coursework right away, national and internationally ranked, includes architecture, city planning, landscape architecture, environmental policy. Dedicated studio space, going through US accreditation process currently and expected to be fulfilled May of 2018.

Engineering: Widest range of engineering options including a 3+2 masters option (includes embedded internship, 95% of internships are paid and 70% come out with a job offer), Year one is a common year, after students choose specialization.

College of Health and Agricultural Sciences

Strong links with U.S. programs including UC Davis and Cornell. Animal Science, Food, Agricultural Systems and Technology, Environmental Science, Human Nutrition, Forestry, Sports Turf Management. Strong pre-veterinarian!

College of Science

Strong research, brand new facilities with dedicated lab spaces, 7 schools within including Computer Science, Math, Physics, Actuarial/Financial. Study is career-based, research, peer-mentors and tutors, IT, energy, sustainability, medical fields all growing and accessible to students in this area of interest. Labs are capped at 30 students, joint study abroad programs.

College of Social Sciences and Law

School of Law: Ranked in top 100 universities in the world for law. Bachelor of Civil Law is a strong option for California students who want to sit for the bar upon return to California. Business law degree available. Students can complete degree, return to the states, take one year LLM (masters of law) and sit for bar.

Social Sciences: Economics, social work, psychology, education, philosophy, etc. Psychology is very science, clinical based and competitive for admissions. Optional internship in year 3, strong dedicated research.

UCD Noteworthy Highlights

  • Ranked in top 1% institutions worldwide
  • Over 25,000 students
  • Comprehensive campus filled with sports facilities, gyms, libraries, student stores, dorms, on-campus dining, accessible bus transportation, clubs and societies, international student life
  • For every 11 students there’s one academic faculty member
  • Peer mentorship within your area of study
  • On-campus health care (doctor, nurse and mental health)
  • Biomedical, pharmaceutical companies based in Dublin, booming tech industry
  • Debate teams compete internationally, debate space replicated after Parliament

UCD Quick Admissions 

  • Apply via Common App or directly on their website
  • Transparent admission requirements (look up requirements based on area of interest)
  • Mostly academic review for admission
  • Rolling application, priority deadline January 1st for best scholarship consideration (quick admission decision turnaround)

UCD Quick Financial Aid

  • Tuition rate locked in for all four years
  • Averaging from $21,000 – $29,000 per year based on program fees found here: 
  • 7 different living and meal plans on campus
  • Partnership with Aerlingus airlines for student discounted flights
  • Accept outside scholarships
  • Students are able to register and work to earn extra $$
  • Scholarships available
  • Depending on your program you may graduate in 3 years to complete your degree, saving you money

Phew!!! Let’s end it with this…

Ireland is really beautiful. It’s also kind of enchanting. You’ve got people who are incredibly prideful in their history and love to share their stories and keep tradition alive. You also have a mindset of when the work is done you can shut down and enjoy life. I believe it to be a really solid work life balance. You have ranked programs with accreditation that will transfer back to the states, plus the added bonus of showing that you can navigate a foreign country and have lived abroad. If you’re considering international, I highly recommend including UCD in your choice.

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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