5 factors to consider when choosing a university

Choosing a University

Like many other decisions in life, choosing the right university is a big deal. It can be the little spring needed to help you bounce several steps ahead of your peers or the little mistake you may never even realize you made.

Personally, as a high school graduate, I wanted a university that is far from home. I did a survey, found one, and voila… It became my dream university. Sincerely at this point in my life, I do not know if I made a mistake, or if my choice of a university has helped me leap several steps. I really cannot tell yet.

Now, I’m trying to choose a university for my M.sc. In my research and from conversations with many people, I have discovered that people choose universities for different reasons. Here are some of the top 5 factors people consider when people choose a university.

5 Factors to consider when choosing a University

1. Academic Prestige of the University:

Over 50% of the people I spoke to mentioned Academic prestige. The aim of going to a university is to learn. Universities being called “Institutions of Higher Learning”, is not a mistake. The university broadens your knowledge of your desired field of study.

To be able to measure the academic prestige of a university, the following questions should be considered: How well does the university impart knowledge to its students? Do they have the right equipment and materials to transfer knowledge? What level of education do the lecturers have? How much information/research have the lecturers in your desired field of study contributed to the available literature? What is the university’s position on the nation’s university ranking list?

A good place to get these answers would be the university website. Most universities list their facilities and other achievements on their websites. Opinions and reviews of the university by other people can be found via a quick Google search.

The academic prestige of the university is a very important factor to consider, as this is the mirror through which society views the school. It creates a bias in people’s minds when certain decisions need to be taken. While it can be argued that being biased is unfair, it is also important to position yourself to be at an advantage.

2. The Alumni of the University:

Another place to get opinions and authentic reviews on the school is through its alumni. The alumni of a school are people who graduated from that school. They are the products of a university. They experienced the university and can tell its tales better than a random observer. Getting reviews from the alumni can either be through one or one interaction or observation. The alumni can be observed in the following ways

LinkedIn search

Search for the name of your desired university and 70% of its alumni using the platform will pop up. Observe their current jobs, past jobs, and achievements since they left school. Is that where you want to be after school? Some of them go further to share their success stories on the platform or on other blogs. What do these stories say? Do they speak well of the school?

While observing, the following questions can serve as a guide. What percentage of the alumni are successful? How are they positioned in society? How does the society rate the alumni of that institution?

Interactive Groups

Most alumni have interactive groups online and offline which aids in networking. You can reach out to some of them to ask questions about their experience while in school, and how life after school has been.

This is an important factor to consider when choosing a university, as the alumni reflect what you might be after your stay at the university. If a very high percentage of them do not reflect the image you want, you might want to reconsider your choice of a university.

3. The School Culture:

Culture is the way of life of a group of people, and every institution has its culture. The school culture refers to the principles, norms, and rules (both written and unwritten) that guide a school. Some examples of school culture could be internships for students, practical teachings, extra-curricular activities, sporting events, academic competitions, etc. A mix of these and academic activities could be an advantage. Some students have been able to truly discover themselves through these activities. The social culture of an institution plays an important role in molding an individual.  What’s life in school like? Does it give room for volunteering? Does it promote creativity? Is there an academic and social balance?

Some universities have been considered to have rules similar to high school rules; strict and attracting penalties for defaulters. If such a university is your choice, can you cope with the rules? Do the rules align with your personality? Are there rules you can obey throughout your stay in that institution? If not, you might want to reconsider. As failure to adhere to these rules might cause an expulsion at any time.

4. Funds:

The tuition fee is a very important factor. Is the fee affordable for you? Does the university have options for scholarships/assistantships? Can the fees be paid in installments? What is the payment plan? Do you have access to student loans? The answers to these questions above are important, as most universities will not admit someone who cannot afford to pay tuition fees. Or even continue to teach students who default on their payments. Details on the tuition fees can be found on the website or gotten from discussions with alumni.

5. The University’s Requirements:

Universities have certain criteria with which they choose incoming students. Most universities organize examinations/tests and admit only those who meet the cut-off. Others require that the students have certain grades in O’level results to be eligible. As a student trying to get into such schools, you must ensure that you have the capability to meet these criteria. Failure to meet the school’s criteria means there will be no offer of admission.

While the points listed above are the most common factors people consider when choosing a university, people also choose a university for personal reasons. Some of these include Distance, the weather conditions in the school environment, and the reputation of the school. The choice of a university can also be to relive memories of a loved one or to be close to a loved one. The list is exhaustive.

Whatever factor you want to consider, it is important to take schoolwork seriously to get good grades. Getting good grades is one of the ways to maximize your university experience.

There are many other ways to maximize your university experience, and that is exactly what my next post will discuss.

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