Choosing a University

This post is for all the prospective students looking for the perfect university to go to!

I’m sharing some ideas to think about when selecting some universities to apply to and for picking your final university. I know for many of you, this post has come too late: you have already selected a university and you’re there or on your way there soon. For the rest of you, I hope this will help you if:

  • you are in HS and looking for a college/university
  • you are in university and are looking to study abroad

Selecting your Schools

Where do you start? What’s important? You’re juggling schoolwork and now you have to research on hundreds & thousands of universities. Here are some things to think about:

  • SubjectsWhat do you want to study?
    Find all the universities that offer the subject(s) you are interested in studying.
  • LanguageDo I need to speak the language?
    Some universities are conducted solely in one language. Are your language skills up to par?
  • University ReputationWhy do I want to study here?
    Take a look at the universities you’re interested in. Does it matter if this is a new/old university? Does the university’s GPA matter to you? Do you want the best of the best?
  • City/TownWill I like the city/town?Do you want a big city you can explore and get away from campus or a student town? I preferred the latter. More freedom and more opportunities to be independent. Plus, it’s easier to meet up with your friends/classmates. Don’t forget to take a look at the weather year-long. Will you be able to survive their summers/winters? Is the city (rent, food, leisure, etc.) expensive or affordable?
  • Class Size: Will I be able to see the professor?Are you one of many students attending a course (where your professor is as small as an ant) or are you in an intimate class (and your professor could talk at eye-level)? In fact, will you even have a professor or will you be taught by a teaching assistant? Will you get to know your classmates or are you better off studying and working independently?
  • University SpiritHow much team spirit does the university have?
    Will you recognise a student or alumnus/a from afar? Does the university have good networking? One of the reasons I recommended to prospective students for choosing my uni was that we have amazing team spirit. Students, alumni, faculty – we are all connected.
  • Clubs & Fraternities/SororitiesWhat extracurriculars are available?
    Courses aside, you want to do something fun as well, be it volunteering or learning how to dance. This is also an opportunity for you to meet more like-minded people. Are there plenty of clubs available for you to join? Will you be able to start your own? Take a look at the clubs – it says quite a lot about the students and university! 😉
  • Funding: How much funding would you be able to receive?
    Tuition can be terribly expensive so we all need the help when we can. How many scholarships, bursaries, and grants are available from the university? How many of these will you qualify for? Take a look to see if there are jobs on campus available too.
  • International Student Support: How much assistance will I have as an international or exchange student?
    Is there university funding available for you to apply for? Is there an international centre or group for international and exchange students? Are there study abroad coordinators there to help you through?

Non-refundable application fees are not cheap. Make sure you select your top 5 (at least 1 near your home, just in case travelling doesn’t work out)!

Next: Which University to Attend?

Now that you have received your acceptance (and rejection) letters, think about these things:

  • Which university (or universities) have offered you scholarship, bursaries, grants, etc.?
  • Which university would be the cheapest to attend (deduct the scholarships and loans, etc.)?
  • Do I have enough for living expenses (travel, rent, food, etc.)?
  • If there are some student-recruitment events in town, attend them. Talk to alumni and faculty.
  • Visit the university – if it’s close to your home. Walk around the campus, take a look at the student buildings and dorms. Do you feel at home here?
  • Ask as many people as you can about student life in the prospective university – in person or online. Get as much information as you can.

All the best and congratulations!

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