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Thinking About University?

There are a lot of things to consider.

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Applying to college. It’s a stressful thing to even think about – let alone do. Hours of work into getting the best marks at school, studying for standardized tests, writing college essays, part-taking in dozens of extra-curriculars…all down to one decision.

While getting into university can be frustrating and tense, many students find themselves with a number of offers in just a few short months. While some know exactly where they want to go, choosing a university to go to can be overwhelming for students unsure of their preferences. While the significance of certain aspects/elements of a school differ greatly between different students, considering all of them is vital in order for students to make sure their choice is right for them.

If you are a student in a position of having to decide which school to attend or are still trying to put together a list of schools you think you may potentially apply to in the future, the following will hopefully give you a number of things to think about to help you in the process of choosing a university that is a good fit for you.

 

Location

While some students prefer to stay close to home to be able to visit family and friends regularly, others are eager to go abroad and explore what the world has to offer. Either way, college life can vary greatly depending on where your campus is located. As most students live on campus in their first year, it should be considered whether or not you prefer living in the heart of a bustling city or in the quiet countryside. Additionally, safety is closely tied to location, and is something that can be researched in order to find out about student well-being and what your universities are doing to implement security measures to avoid possible safety breaches.

Being comfortable on campus and the area in which it is located is important to having a good college experience.”

Depending on your selected major, the place in which you study may be vital to the exposure you get to your subject outside of the classroom. For example, a business student may consider a city to be a more suitable area to study in because of the many internship opportunities offered by firms located in a close proximity. The opposite can be said for possible biology students, who may find having access to natural reserves as a great aid to their research and studies.

Being comfortable on campus and the area in which it is located is important to having a good college experience. Ideally, the universities you are considering going to are in places you feel you will be able to adapt to and will meet your needs. On the other hand, if you feel like you are capable of adjusting to any environment, location may not be a serious factor to consider when comparing different institutions.

 

Cost

If you’ve ever been asked to consider the downsides of college, the first thing that would likely come to mind is how pricey it can be. Because the financial situation of every family is different and conclusions cannot be drawn without fully understanding each individual’s background, I will not go into great depth on this point.

Different universities have different fees – it’s as simple as that. Students may be expected to pay different fees depending on where they are applying from and which country to they are hoping to go to. While some are granted scholarships and other forms of financial aid, it is important to make a plan for how you will finance your time at school. Again, the significance of costs to your decision of choosing a place to study fully depends on your situation, but is still something to talk to with your parents if you haven’t already and make sure it is something you have sorted before making any final decisions.

 

Culture/Social Life

When looking at the kind of experience you want to have at university, culture and social life is vital to consider. While some students are attending single-sex schools, most universities will be open to more genders. Therefore, looking at the male to female ratio may be something you want to look at to fully understand diversity in the school. Additionally, considering the variety of nationalities and student groups at a school can influence how fitting you feel it is to you. For example, a diverse university with students from all over the world may be ideal for a student who has had an international upbringing. This can link to the size of a university, as a big one may have campuses across the globe and can therefore be more globalized, while a small school may not be as well-known or admit most students locally.

What is done outside of the classroom is also vital to your university experience, and is greatly influenced by the culture of a school.”

The size of a university is also something that can greatly influence both its culture and social life. Depending on where you want to go, the undergraduate class population can range from 50-50,000 students. By looking at those figures alone, it’s not hard to imagine how your years at college may be influenced by the number of peers you have. First of all, class size is something that should be considered. While a smaller university may offer more classroom-style teaching, big universities may offer lectures that hundreds of students may attend. While some prefer smaller classes due to more opportunities to interact with professors, ask questions and grow closer to other students, others find larger class sizes attractive due to their freedom to study and explore their subjects in a way that they find is effective rather than having to follow the exact study methods of their professors while being closely monitored by them. That being said, class sizes depend greatly on the demand of a course or program – while a more broad course such as Finance may be extremely popular, a specific class such as 19th century Russia is built for a small, select group. Therefore, even if you go to a university that can be considered “small”, your class size may not reflect on that – it all depends on the demand of a course. In order to find out details over class sizes, visit a university’s website and look for information regarding how professors and administration support you in your learning and details regarding popularity of different subjects.

What is done outside of the classroom is also vital to your university experience, and is greatly influenced by the culture of a school. A university offering many activities and groups to join may suit a student that enjoys pursuing their athletic, creative or charitable interests, something that can be rewarding and fulfilling as well as offer opportunities to interact with students having similar interests. A feeling of being a part of a community is also important to many students who want to build a “family” with other peers. Of course, location ties into the culture of a university as you will, one way or the other, be influenced by your surroundings. While some students enjoy being in an institution that invests greatly into social events (e.g. sports events), others prefer a quiet campus that allows for a more laid back experience.

The culture and size of a university can greatly impact your experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. However, location is also important to consider, as you will likely spend a lot of time off campus as well. This is again dependent on what kind of a person you are and what you are looking for in terms of your social interactions at college.

 

Academic Rigour/Rankings

Last, but not least, is choosing a university based on how well programs are ranked and how universities are recognized globally. As absurd as it sounds, choosing to study somewhere based only on their statistics, it is something most students are extremely influenced by. Going to an academically rigorous university can increase your chances of getting a good job later in life, and this is a simple fact.

Choosing a university that offers a program that fits your ambitions is vital, but can easily be overlooked. ”

However, it’s important to understand the difference between how well a university is perceived by others and whether or not your degree at that university will provide you with the ideal set of tools and skills you need to succeed. Choosing a university that offers a program that fits your ambitions is vital, but can easily be overlooked. Just because a school is world-renowned does not mean it will meet your academic needs. You should make sure that whatever interests you may want to pursue you know are offered by your university. For example, applying to a school for law when it excels in linguistics may not be an ideal choice to suit your needs.

 

Overall, while the following points may have different value to different people, the points presented in them are things that all students should consider when deciding on where to study. While no university comes without flaw, the key to a successful and memorable time at university is balance. While working hard is vital to have academic success, most of your time will be spent outside of the classroom, and it is therefore important to look at what you will be able to achieve in that time that will be impactful in helping you grow as a person, and how this can help you later in life. Ultimately, whatever university you decide to study at, your experience will be what you make of it. There will be lows and highs, failures and successes…but at the end of the day, they will be some of the best years of your life.

So whatever university you may choose, choose it with confidence and don’t look back – look forward to what’s coming.

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Thinking About University?