Choosing a College or University is one important decision that you take after schooling in terms of academic and professional life. However, when selecting an institute, do remember that academics isn’t just everything. There are plenty of other factors that should be considered such as location, extracurricular activities, housing options alongside the career prospects, faculty, and accreditation etc. Make sure to count in all aspects, and use this helpful guideline to make a better decision.
1. Subject Major (curriculum, course availability)
If you know the subject you want to major in then it’s easy to decide else you may need a career counselor to help identify your underlying interest and potential career opportunities from the field you choose. Narrow down the list of preferred colleges looking at if they provide the subject major (excel in the field) you want to go with, also check for the curriculum that gives an overview of what will be taught under each.
2. Campus Location
Check the distance of the institute you’ll choose with that from home, and the location in terms of surrounding areas. Simply ask yourself:
- Are you comfortable travelling even if the institute is far?
- How much will it cost for transportation?
- Is the campus close to city life?
3. Institute Size
Usually students boil down to a significant size consideration. Are you looking to be a big fish in small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Do ask yourself if you are comfortable being in large group of people or prefer to hide in big crowds. Large school size usually have more resources in terms of vast library, well-constructed computer labs, health centers, students housing, proper labs, classroom technology, and place of societal clubs and entertainment. Perhaps, higher chances are, that large institute does provide various academic options but lack concentrations in class due to higher class proportion. Check on with the class size and student to teacher ratio before enrolling.
4. Career Opportunities
Your ultimate goal is to have a successful career growth in the field you choose. A reputed institute makes a great difference in graduate employability so choose one that is more considered in job market. Not really this, look that these excel in the course or field you choose to study.
Career counseling can be invaluable in terms of assisting in finding internships and career opportunities. Look if the school provides such services. Institutes have an active alumni network which keeps the institute plugged into different industries and provides graduates an access to employers.
5. Social Clubs at Campus and extra-curricular activities
Limiting oneself to academic study doesn’t allow student to explore their hidden capability. Identifying interest in terms of career and profession is done through exploring one’s own talent and capabilities through extra-curricular activities and social clubs. It develops social and communication skills and also helps boost confidence and self-esteem. Check to which extent does the campus life offer these. There should be a balance between both academics and extracurricular activities.
Before spending hours looking what the institute offers, at first check if it is accredited. This refers to; that the institute has officially licensed organization and then review the curriculum to verify that the basic academic standards for higher education is met or not. Most importantly if you’re doing a higher level degree, check if the course is accredited (approved by professional organization) because it shows that you meet the standard developed by experts in the field.
Faculty and academic quality go hand in hand. The professor acts as a mentor and instills valuable skills that prepare student for professional life. After a clue of what you’ll study, look at the faculty in related departments of the institute. Though it is hard to judge the faculty members but read about their specialization, achievement and qualification and formulate a basis of comparison with other institute faculty. If you get a chance to have personal meet with faculty members, then that’s better to decide if you’ll get to learn what’s specified.
8. Diversity on campus
Institutes often have diversity on campus but it depends if you feel comfortable being in such environment. Often such things are a reason for discrimination on racial, ethnic or caste grounds. The diversity element is of no use when nobody interacts because then there is no sense of community. Simply ask yourself:
- Do students from different backgrounds are interacting?
- Am I comfortable being in such surrounding?
- Does my personality allow me to fit in or not?
- Does the environment promote a sense of community?
9. Offer Study abroad programs
Almost every student dreams to get a chance of studying abroad applying themselves or through exchange programs offered by institute. It’s a great opportunity to explore the world while studying. If interested, look does the school offer such options. Simply ask yourself:
- Are the study abroad programs offered in my area of interest has any scholarships?
- Does the institute offer exchange programs?
- Are the study abroad programs robust in this institute?
10. Financial aid options
Taking admission in an institute that won’t be affordable at any point of academic life is never a good idea. Though, if the institute offers financial aid, then evaluate the options they offer. Simply ask yourself:
- What sort of financial aid options are available?
- Does it seem realistic to take admission in this institute financial aid?
- Do they offer need or merit based scholarship and at what time of the year?
- What will the final cost of studying when given financial aid?