What You Want in a University or College

The biggest question students often have is ‘Where should I apply?’

It is an obvious question because where you study will define your next 2-4 years. However, you can turn the question around and ask yourself, ‘What do I want in a college?’

The most common answer will be I want a good college. You will realize how generic this answer is when you think of this fact – most of the 10,000+ universities and colleges abroad are good, meaning you will get a great education and a respectable degree. However, what is good for one student is not going to be good for everyone. If you don’t have some kind of shortlisting criteria, you are going to have 10,000+ options of good colleges that you can apply to.

This brings us to the second step of self-assessment – identifying what you want in a university or college.

To find your answer, think about what you may like in a university or what you may not like in a university. And the best part is that as an international student, you do have the option to change your mind and switch universities (in most cases).

Right now you might be looking for a small college, so start researching small universities. During the research process, you might find out that you don’t love small universities as much as you thought. If that happens, then no problem. You only need to change your mind and start looking at medium universities. At this stage, the goal is to narrow the 10,000+ options of good colleges down to a more manageable list of a few numbers.

There are many students who will say I want to apply to a top university. If you wish to go by rankings, that gives you 100 universities to choose from. Whatever your choice criteria be, remember that too many university options mean they all might not be a good fit for you.

To narrow down your options, you will have to decide which universities of your choice are the most ambitious options, which are the probable matches, and which are easy admission options. Then, make a list of the criteria that you want in a university and prioritize those criteria; put them in the order of how important each of them is.

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It is alright if right now you don’t know what your criteria are, and you don’t know what is important. You don’t have to know all that right now because that list will change as you do keep on researching more and more.

  • We can only guide you in the right direction so start with the basics –
  • Would you like to go to university in a city or in the countryside?
  • Would you feel comfortable among 50,000 students or among 5,000 students?
  • Do you wish to go to only top-ranked universities?
  • How important is the tuition fee?

What about diversity on campus? Do you want a strong Indian community present at the campus or no?

Then follow your instincts. Later on, during your research, you might have to change those initial choices depending on what you find. Some original preferences might get prioritized farther up the list, while some preferences might be removed from your list. Over time, your preferences are only going to grow, especially if you remember that it is about thriving and not surviving.

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