Are you planning to study at university but get dizzy at the variety of universities and careers offered, or are you already clear about your choice? In both cases, keep reading. We explain a simple process step by step so that you know all your options and make your best choice.
Step 1: Determine what career or careers you would like to study
This is as personal a decision as where to study. Some factors to take into account are your interests and skills, your ideas about the type of work you would like to do after school, and the job opportunities that certain studies may have. This last factor is often not valued enough, but do not forget that you are making a decision with great implications for your future. It does not mean that you should rule out a career that you love because it has a high unemployment rate, far from it. For one thing, the job market can change long before you finish your degree. On the other, we have already said that it is not worth being guided by general data. 80% unemployment means that 20% are working. It is entirely possible that you possess qualities that will help you to be in this 20%. But you must objectively evaluate those possibilities. The counselor at your school or institute is a good resource if you want help with this assessment.
Step 2: Identify the criteria you want to use to consider colleges
You have to start limiting the number of universities that you are going to study closely, and for that you must decide what your selection criteria are going to be. These are going to be different for each student, but there are three that can help you do a first screening.
– The career or majors you want to study: The majors you identified in step one represent the first important criterion, since you will want to limit your search to universities that offer those majors and also have a good academic program.
– Difficulty of access: The ease of entering a certain career varies from one university to another. Perhaps you want to rule out universities that do not require a certain minimum level to enter your chosen career or, on the contrary, you see that your chances of entering certain universities are limited by your grades.
– Cost: If you want to put a limit on the cost of your studies, you will possibly eliminate some universities from your consideration. Do not forget to take into account the expenses of accommodation, food, leisure, etc. The possibility of obtaining scholarships, or your willingness to combine work and studies can also influence.
Other common criteria that might help you further refine your list include the following:
– Prestige of the university: If this is important to you, it can be a determining factor. Prestige brings its benefits, but be careful, the level of quality within the same university can vary from one degree to another. Make sure of the quality of the curriculum of the career that interests you.
– The teachers: Both their knowledge and their teaching ability impact the quality of teaching you will receive. It is important to find out who your professors will be in your career, their references, if they actively participate in research, if they relate to the business world, etc. Also important is the student to teacher ratio, the size of the classes, and the access you will have to them outside of class.
– The focus of the program: From one university to another the approach given to the same career can differ greatly. They also differ in the relative weight they give to theoretical and practical work, and the flexibility they give students to personalize their studies.
– Technical means and facilities: Do you want to study a high-tech or scientific discipline? Is a beautiful or modern environment important to you? Perhaps you want to take into account the quality of the facilities in your assessment: libraries, laboratories, practice rooms, computer facilities, sports facilities, etc.
– Job placement programs: There is a great variety among the programs implemented by each university to facilitate the job placement of their students.
– Geographical location: Do you want to stay close to home, or would you like to venture further afield? Do you prefer a big city or a smaller town?
Step 3: Make a long list of universities that may interest you
Once you have some basic idea of the criteria that are important to you, you can begin to search for the universities meeting your requirements and prepare a preliminary list of universities that may interest you. Here, CatEight.com can help you complete the universities search effectively and show you some school details to help you make the final choice.
Step 4: Compare the universities on the list
After listing the universities that interest you, you can then check the school details and compare the institutions. While making the comparison, you can apply the criteria you chose in step 2, you can review your list of universities and do a second screening. The goal is to narrow the list down to a reasonable number that you can visit in person. How many is a reasonable number? That depends on each one, but in most cases 5 or less is enough.
Step 5: Visit the universities
There is no better way to get to know a university than to visit it in person: participate in a guided tour or information session, talk to students and teachers, attend a class, breathe the air and feel the atmosphere. You are going to spend a few years studying the degree. Don’t you think it is worth spending a few hours at each university you are considering to ensure that you would be comfortable there? If some colleges are too far away to visit, at least try to talk to students and alumni to get an idea of what they are like.
Step 6: Apply to the universities you liked
Well, the research phase is finally over! After the visits, it’s time to make the final list of universities and apply for admission. There is no one-size-fits-all application number. If you apply for admission to 1 or 2 universities where due to their access requirements it is difficult (but not impossible) for you to enter, 2 or 3 where you have a good chance of entering and at least one where it is almost certain that you will enter, you will have covered all the possibilities. But it is a personal decision. There are people who only apply at the best universities, others who for particular reasons apply at very few. And it is clear that there is no point applying to a university where you would not go even if they accepted you.
Step 7: Choose between the universities that have admitted you
If you have followed all the steps, you will most likely be admitted to more than one university. Congratulations! Now you are the one who decides, and it is the universities that have to convince you. If you have applied for a scholarship or other aid, study well the offers you receive from each university. If your first choice has given you the lowest offer, don’t rule out talking to them again, especially if it is a private university. The competition to attract students is increasingly fierce, and you may find that the university is willing to improve its proposal.
Do you know how to choose a university now? Just follow the steps above and have a try!