How do choose the right university for you? Out of the hundreds and hundreds in the world, how can you narrow it down to the school that’ll give you the best university experience possible? Follow these steps to find out how!
STEP 1: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT!
It is useless to attempt to sift through the many worldwide universities if you do not even know what you want out of your university experience. Before you start your search, you must figure out what you are trying to attain! Questions like ‘what major do I want to obtain?’ and ‘how far away am I willing to go?’ are good to answer before beginning your search. These help to narrow down the broad selection of universities to a list that, while still big, is not overwhelming.
Some easy Q’s to answer:
- What degree am I interested in? (B.A., B. Sc., B. Comm., B.F.A.?)
- What major am I most interested in? (Political Science? Marketing? Pharmacology? If you don’t have a set one, picking out a couple is fine!)
- What is your yearly budget? (Don’t just factor in tuition; think of living expenses, textbooks, school supplies!
Other than tuition, keep in mind the fact that you’ll have to spend some money on living expenses and school supplies – textbooks, notebooks, pencils – everything!
STEP 2: CHECK THE UNIVERSITY’S STRENGTHS!
So you’ve got your list of schools that seem interesting, after factoring in your dream career, your budget, the distance, etcetera. Now it’s time to check out what those schools are most famous for. Some universities are famous for their life science and medicine faculties – others, for their management programs and well-developed humanities degrees. Scope out the universities you’re interested in to see if their most sophisticated programs and the research they put out align with what you’re considering in majoring in!
Some Q’s to consider:
- What research does the school put out?
- Does my preferred faculty at the school have renowned professors?
- Are the classes interesting? Do good professors teach them?
- Are there a lot of opportunities for people with my potential major?
- Does the school provide a lot of funding to my faculty?
The Montreal Neurological Institute, which has produced groundbreaking research in the field of Psychology, is close to my school (McGill) – some of my professors research at the institute and bring the results of their research to their classes!
STEP 3: CHECK OUT THE CAMPUS AND SURROUNDINGS!
While not as important as the university’s programs itself, the campus and the surrounding area play a huge factor in the university experience. Many universities are located in the heart of a large metropolitan area; other universities have campuses somewhat removed from the nearest urban center. As well, it’s important to note the people that inhabit the city – their mannerisms, their treatment of foreigners. It’ll be the place you’ll be living in for a long period of time, so it’s important to research it beforehand to see if the campus and the city are right for you.
Some Q’s to think about:
- Do you prefer a big city campus? Or do you prefer remote ‘college towns?
- Is a scattered campus (think NYU) preferable? Or is an established campus (like Columbia University) more your style?
- Is being near to restaurants, shopping, and nightlife important? Or not a priority?
- How are the locals like? What are their idiosyncrasies? Mannerisms?
New York University’s campus is built into the city itself – meaning the campus is made up of scattered buildings walking distance from each other. It’s a situation that piques some interest but turns other people off.
STEP 4: SEARCH FOR OTHERS’ OPINIONS!
So after following all these steps, there’s probably only a handful of universities you’ve got to choose from. At this point, it’s time to look over the opinions of real people – people that are involved in the school as staff, alumni, or even current students. If possible, find out if the university is holding an info session near you, or if you’re able to arrange a Skype date or other form of contact with a university promoter. To get perspectives from students and alum, the Internet is the place to be! Some schools have very active forums (like Reddit) where students detail everything from classes to the overall feel of being a student at their university – there’s no better place to really find out if the university is a perfect fit for you.
Q’s to get you thinking:
- Are alumni/students happy with the school? With their professors and classes? With university staff and resources?
- Do current students like the school’s vibe? What is the school’s vibe like?
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Gabriella de Guzman is an intern at Edukasyon.ph. Manila-born, her family made the move to Canada when was 10, where she has lived ever since. Gabby is currently an undergraduate at McGill University, studying International Development and Psychology.