With application deadlines around the corner – starting as early as October – it’s time you’ve a list of colleges that are right for you, in hand. If you’re choosing a college based on rankings alone, think again. You need to evaluate other criteria too, and identify which ones are a priority for you. Here are 10 factors you need to look at when making your college selection decision:
- Teaching Style
Does the method of teaching at the school support your learning needs? Probe into what parameters you will be evaluated and assessed on. Understand the classroom dynamics. For example, do students need to actively participate or is there a more lecture-based setup? It is vital to understand how you will be taught and whether this matches your expectations.
Not only do you need to evaluate HOW they are teaching, you need to also probe into WHAT they are teaching. An undergraduate Business degree at school “A” can have very different course content compared to a business degree in School “B.” Review the course content thoroughly and gauge how it matches your learning objectives.
Ensure that you apply to a school that has a strong focus on the subjects you are interested in as well as the right facilities and faculty. Do students do well after they graduate? Research the school’s expertise and focus areas. Remember you want to choose a college that not only offers you facilities and faculty in your area of interest, but also has a strong reputation in it.
- Students & Alumni
The current students and alumni are a great voice for the school. It’s a good idea to connect with them to get an in-depth perspective of the strengths and weaknesses of the school. Especially reach out to students who have similar academic/extra-curricular interests and alumni who are in a career path you are interested in.
The fee structure for colleges abroad can be significantly higher, and can vary greatly depending on geography, subject and rankings. Make sure you are aware of not only the tuition fees, but also of all other additional costs associated with the school such as food, accommodation, trips etc. and how they typically increase on a year-to-year basis. It’s important you have a complete picture today to avoid any adverse situations later.
- Employment Opportunities
If you are looking to find a job in investment banking will the college career service be able to help you with that? What types of companies are recruiting at the college and for what types of opportunities? What is the placement rate? You should factor this into your decision, based on the future path that you have in mind. Also, as an international student – you need to further breakdown those numbers and details to understand how foreign students are recruited both within your home country and in the country you are studying in.
A college’s location can really matter. For many students, remaining close to home or having the opportunity to visit their family often is a necessity. For others, staying in the city versus the suburbs is a priority. For example, if you prefer college grounds to encompass everything you need, from where you study to where you eat, then a campus university may be a better fit. However, if you are more inclined towards a city life, and are comfortable with public transport, then a city university may be for you. Keep in mind the climatic conditions, travel options and so on as you determine your location preferences.
Size is necessary to consider in terms of resources available, job opportunities, one-on-one interaction, and whether the environment is conducive to your learning and social wellbeing. Check the school website and brochures to find out what the student: teacher ratio is.
- Admissions Criteria
The admissions criteria of most schools will typically involve GPA expectations, prerequisite course requirements, and standardized test scores. They might also ask you to write essays or interview with an admissions officer. Information about a school’s admission criteria can typically be found on the school’s website. Make sure you identify programs that generally match your profile.
- Campus Environment
Take the virtual tour. Go through the college website. Visit university news pages to learn more about what is trending in terms of faculty and student research and achievements. Know the male / female ratio, percentage of international students, college diversity. Understand the university’s mission statement, read the campus newspaper. Remember, the college has to make you feel at home.
To conclude, make sure you can answer “Why is THIS university the right fit for me?” It is vital you do your homework and evaluate which university, degree and programme works best for you. Your college experience is an important stepping-stone towards your life goals, so it’s imperative you find an environment where you can thrive.