How to choose the right college
posted at May 8, 2022, 6:40 p.m.
Choosing the right college is a momentous decision for a student. Most students go through this process with much excitement, stress, and sometimes confusion. Since there are multiple things that you need to factor in before making the final decision, it’s always good to organize your thoughts and come up with a framework, a web of criteria that can help you filter the process. Here are some of them:
Where is it exactly that you wish to go? The place where you’ll be spending the next 2-3 years will have a long-term effect on you, in addition to further plans that you might have for yourself after graduation. This makes it important for you to consider the location that is closer to big cities which will give you more exposure to more job opportunities and such. For example, if your desired location is in the US, you might want to consider whether you want to study on the East Coast, West Coast, Chicago, or Texas area.
Resonance between desired job opportunities and the location
The location you choose should be such that it best suit your needs in terms of living costs, social groups, corporate hubs, job opportunities, and other amenities. Regions, especially in the U.S., have come to become specialized hubs for certain job opportunities that witness a heavy influx of people working in those particular industries. For example, for anyone who is trying to get into the software or product management industry, California would be the ideal location to be in.
Certain majors require you to apply to specific colleges. For example, if you wish to apply for a Business major then universities like Texas A&M University, Arizona State University, UT Arlington, University of Illinois-Chicago, Penn State, etc are the best options to apply to.
Financial requirements: You have to look at the tuition fee, the living cost, and any other miscellaneous costs. More importantly, you will have to look at the scholarship/financial aid that is provided by the university that you desire to study at. All of this will give you a clear idea as to if this will be an affordable decision or not. You might want to look out for some hidden costs that usually students tend to overlook when they are planning to study in a foreign country. Some of these significant costs would be phone and internet fees (electronics-related costs), health and travel insurance (medical costs), traveling costs within the city and campus, administration and course material expenditure (supply cost), visa costs, and cost of housing (in campus vas independent living).
Additional criteria that will help you in the long run
Return on investment
A good way of assessing this return on investment (into your education at that particular university or college) is to research the employability and general pay scales associated with your major, along with the career opportunities in the vicinity. Avoid obsessing over rankings because while they are great for collecting general information about those institutions, they do not really go into the nitty-gritty of various criteria that prove to be much more crucial for an international student in the long run. Alumni networking: If you know the alumni or have a chance to connect with them then they will be able to provide you with some perspectives about the course, quality of education, faculty, and the student culture. Many times universities themselves help you connect with their alumni network. This information can be obtained through the admissions counselor. Or at times they even direct you to their social media pages that can help you directly connect with the choice of your alumni group.
So what is the right fit?
How do you define fit? ‘Fit’ could be cultural, academic, or aspirational (or a combination of all of them), depending on the contextual positioning of the student and the purpose that drives them to go abroad as an international student. People who share your interests or are like-minded, faculty that would help you meet the right people in and out of the department, social & cultural programs that are offered by the university, the cultural and social hubs available around the campus, and the overall student atmosphere are some of the factors that you must keep in mind.
Choosing a particular university to study at can be quite nerve-wracking. Calculating the many possibilities and uncertainties is something that becomes a part of the process. However, understanding what would work for you as a student and an individual can make this process easier. Working with these factors will definitely help you, as a student to scale which university/ college will be the right choice for you.