Either you’re just starting to research what university you want to go to, or you’ve already heard back from more than one and are having a hard time choosing which offer to accept. Either way, deciding on which school you’re going to attend can be terrifying.
Never fear! Here are some tips to help you choose the best university for YOU.
This is one of the first things you want to consider. Are you looking for a change of pace, or do you want to stay in your hometown? If you’re not comfortable with straying too far, you should consider the universities in your town, or in the next one over. If you’re looking for a fresh start, then you can try looking into different provinces/states. If you’re keen on travel, you may even want to study abroad. It’s up to you!
To expand a little on this: the school you choose is somewhere you’ll be spending an important part of your life. You want a place that’ll feel good. Consider if you want a big city or a small town. Then, look into the universities around the places that interest you.
How does your school of interest measure up to others? A quick Google search will most certainly provide a list of the top ten schools in your country, or the country you’re interested in. For example, Maclean’s lists the top Canadian schools by reputation. Campus Rankings offers an online tool to help you match with schools based on your interests. Very helpful.
If you’re confident that you know what you want to do, then you should try researching the schools with reputable programs in your subject of choice. There’s plenty of information online about past course content and curriculum. Make sure to look into possible jobs, salaries, and future opportunities. If you’re still not sure by the time applications roll around, that’s okay! Go ahead and look into schools that give you plenty of opportunity to explore your various areas of interest.
What extracurriculars do you want to take part in? Every school offers various clubs, sports and activities outside the classroom. It’s worth looking into to get an idea of what your social scene could look like. You might find something that matches your current hobbies, or something new to cross off your bucket list. Also, look into the events and activities put on by the school or the student’s association.
To go even further, research the culture of the school. Is it highly competitive, or laid back? Do you want a place where you can party, or somewhere you can focus and not be distracted? Remember, the reputation of the school may attract a certain type of person, and you should decide whether you’re that type of person or not.
If you know someone who’s currently in university, or if you know people who are going to the university you’re interested in. This shouldn’t be the only factor by any means, but the transition into university can be a stressful time. This can be made better (or worse!) if you have people around you that you already know. Of course, even if you don’t know anyone at the school you’re going to, have faith that you’ll be able to find a solid group of people. Remember, the majority of the students there also don’t know anyone, so you are definitely not alone.
Definitely something important to research. Does the school offer guaranteed first year housing, or would you possibly need to find a place off campus and commute to school every morning? If you’re planning on staying in your hometown, is the school close enough for you to easily get there each day? If you’re moving away from home for the first time, this can be a scary thing to look into. You’ll want to find a place that feels comfortable, even if it doesn’t feel like home right away. Look up what the dorms look like on their website, or check out dorm tours on YouTube. It’ll help you get a good look at what you might be living in for at least a year.
Also, look into the bathroom situation. I once knew someone who never used the bathrooms in his dorm because all of the stall doors had been stolen. The bathroom situation is very important.
How big is the campus? Will you be having to walk for a long time to get to your classes, even if it’s raining cats and dogs? Are there places to get food in between classes, or will you have to go off of campus for that? How far away is the city? Will you be needing to take an hour long bus ride to do your shopping? There are a lot of things to consider here, but they’re all important considerations.
Lastly, you should consider the cost of the university, as well as if they offer any bursaries or scholarships that you qualify for. Obviously it would be wonderful if everyone could afford to go to their dream university, but that isn’t the case. If you stay in your hometown, you will almost definitely save a whole bunch of money, especially if you opt out of student housing and live at home. However, the cost of living may be lower in a different city, and universities abroad may offer plenty of financial aid or lower tuition costs.
Taking all of these things into account will definitely help you narrow down your choices. Going on university tours, speaking to alumni and current students, and even just looking at different blog posts about said universities may also help you gain some insight on where you want to end up.
Either way, remember to give yourself plenty of time to make these decisions. Nothing good ever came out of rushed decision making, so it’s important to give everything a good hard think, and also to plan ahead.
University is an exciting time for everyone, and wherever you end up, you want to be certain that you made the best decision for yourself. Good luck!