Selecting a University: What You Forgot to Consider

Picking a university is one of the biggest decisions of a lifetime. Picking a course of study and being accepted into the program are often the focus of college planning. Unfortunately, that means the planning may overlook some key elements that may determine success in university studies. Whether you're a parent planning your child's future or a high school student, here are the items you may have forgotten to consider.

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Home or Away

There is truly something to be said for attending a school away from home. This gives combines advanced education with the chance to experience new things and develop independence. Perhaps you are looking at schools in the neighbouring city or across the country, being away from home for the first time can be an eye-opening experience. 

For a greater impact, consider schooling in another country. This could be for the entire degree or simply for a semester abroad. Former students often report that their time spent abroad were among the most important experiences of their lives. The opportunity to be exposed, first-hand, to other cultures, languages, art, and music can provide insights that will add lifetime benefits. Keep in mind that schooling in another country may require more advanced planning in order to have time to complete any necessary immigration or visa paperwork. In the United Kingdom, for example, potential students can apply for short term study visas to cover the time they will be in the country pursuing their studies. 

Moving abroad might seem like a daunting prospect but for many it's one of the most memorable and valuable experiences of their lifetimes. 

Schools are More than Classes

It can be easy to focus too heavily on the types of programs offered without paying enough attention to the school as a whole. School, and even programs of study within the schools, may have distinct personalities. The atmosphere within the school, the types of students who attend, and the community in which the school is located all have a significant influence on the school, overall. 

Parents might already be on the alert for "party" school where drinking and socializing may take priority over studies. Beyond that, both parents and students may fail to consider the other factors that will determine whether or not the school is a good fit. Universities that primarily attract wealthy students often have high academic standards but the social life at the school may revolve around expensive hobbies and high-end restaurants. It might be difficult to fit in on a ramen budget when other students are weekending in the Hamptons. 

Even if there are few differences in income, lifestyles could significantly impact the university experience. Pay attention to what percentage of students live on campus, attend part-time, or are older students, returning to school to complete their degrees. Also take a look at what societies and clubs you might enjoy. 

All these areas should be researched, prior to picking a school. It can be difficult enough to settle into a university and excel in a programme of study, without adding in other factors like a poor fit into the challenges. Before making what could be a lifechanging decision, take the time to learn more than school statistics and academic rankings before committing to a school.

 

 

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