The perfect university exists for everybody but, at the same time, is not the same for everybody. The consensus suggests that rankings are the best indicators for one to select their future home but who are the people behind the ranking? What are their qualifications and how are they biased? Let’s face it: everybody’s biased and has the right to their view. So how can we trust one of these websites or magazines to provide us with information in order to make one of the biggest decisions in our lives, i.e. going to college and shaping our careers soon after. This article hopes to address these concerns whilst allowing the student to find a perfect fit. However, this is applicable to foreign universities since the author of the article only has knowledge about the foreign university culture as he is a freshman himself.
The first thing to be completely sure about is your major. Do you know what you really want to do in the future? Did you just pick a stream in high school because most of your friends took it? I guess now’s the time to start thinking about yourself rather than society. What do you like to do? Look through course catalogs and see something that you envision a future in. It could be something that the Indian society has not heard of like “Advertising” or “Veterinary Sciences”. Pursue a major for yourself and not for anybody else, especially society (says the budding engineer).
The elephant in the room needs to be pointed out and that is the cost of foreign education. It is quite obvious that living and studying abroad is expensive and not for everybody. That doesn’t mean that one cannot receive the same or similar education in their home country. The only difference between the two cultures comes down to the networking opportunities and the jobs that come with them. One may look at universities that offer a large financial aid package or a well-funded and can offer financial aid, typically private universities. Some private universities, like Grinnell College, offer students a minimum financial aid package of 50 percent of the total cost. Big colleges like those in the prestigious Ivy League are “need-blind” which means that they do not look at the student’s financial capability but rather at the student’s scholastic performance and award admission based on that factor only. After one has been offered admission, the college looks at the financial aid and it is almost guaranteed for the student to receive financial aid from the college.
Apart from the cost, the biggest factor that affects your higher education is whether or not you will actually be offered admission. One should look at the admissions rate and criteria for the major and whether or not high school education fulfils the criteria and if one may have to give extra tests, like the SAT or the ACT, to comply with college requirements.
Another thing to consider is the location of the university. Can you survive the extreme cold or prefer the heat instead? However, this shouldn’t be considered that highly since this is something you need to get use to. For example, in my case, I would’ve loved to go sunny California but was only given options in the East Coast and ended up going to a place where the temperature goes to about negative twenty degrees which is why this is something that is not always in your hands.
Lastly, one has to consider what they want their life to be like after university. The job prospects, the internship opportunities or even the research opportunities. What do you envision yourself doing after college? Can your college offer you that dream job? Does it provide networking opportunities with these companies and other industry leaders? What is the employment rate for the college? These are all valid questions since, at the end of the day, everybody wants a return on investment; not only the financial investment but also the time and physical and mental effort put into getting that degree.
These are just a few things to consider while looking at a university and, as stated earlier, the perfect university is not the same for everybody which is why there may be certain factors that may be more important for others but are not generalised for everybody. The main idea behind this article is for the student to be aware of the opportunities around them and how college selection is not difficult once they figure out what they want with their lives.