How to choose the right university for you
If you’re coming up to the last year of school, you’re probably beginning to think about what to do next. While some people opt to go straight into a career after school, a large (and growing) number decide to go to university. But with a dauntingly large number of options, it can be hard to feel like you’ve chosen the place with exactly the right fit for you. Here are some tips about what to be aware of when choosing a college.
Universities range in size from the very small (300 students) to the very large (upwards of 50,000). It is essential to choose a place that feels right for you. Larger schools tend to feel more impersonal, but there is a bigger pool of people to meet and make friends with. There might also be a greater range of extra-curricular activities and a larger staff. Smaller schools have a cosier feeling, but it’s more important that you feel aligned with the culture, as there won’t be as much variety.
In the US, the college application process can vary greatly from university to university. Check before you apply that you have the relevant academic qualifications or grades to have a good change of getting in. There might then be a number of steps you need to take, such as filling out forms, writing application essays or personal statements, and obtaining references from your teacher. For more information about the college application process, try http://www.rtjournal.org/college-application-process/.
Specialities or facilities
Lots of universities are renowned for a particular subject, area of research, or extra-curricular activity. The type of college you might seek out if you’re a physics fan will be very different from what will attract an English literature geek or a basketball player. Certain universities will have large endowments for facilities related to particular fields, so keep an eye out for that.
Do you want to live in the heart of a big city, or have the full university experience in a small town? Do you want the campus to be integrated into the location, or separate from the city centre? All these questions should have a bearing on where you choose. There is no “right” answer – people like different things in their college experience – but the good news is that there is a wide range of universities that suit each of these categories. Almost every large city has at least two universities, while smaller and larger campuses are scattered throughout the smaller towns and countryside of every state.
The culture of a university can be drastically different depending on where you go. Some schools are focused solely on the arts. Others have a strong science presence. There are colleges where sports dictate the year’s calendar, and others where fraternities play a big role in social life. If you’re studious, you should look for somewhere that will encourage you to explore your studies further. If you hope to have a great time socially, your parameters might be slightly different when choosing a university. Each school has a distinct “flavour”. Visiting prior to making a decision about where to apply can be a useful way of learning first hand about the culture of a college before you decide on it. You should also be aware of aspects such as the demographic of the student body – the predominant religious beliefs, income, and even race of the students. While they are certainly not a reason not to apply somewhere if it suits you in other ways, such factors will have a big impact on the culture of the school.
In the US, the cost of university varies wildly depending on the institution and the circumstances. It’s not always in the way you might think, though. While state schools tend to have lower “sticker prices” (the advertised or full price of attending), a prestigious private college might have more funding assistance or scholarship opportunities that could result in a much cheaper or even free education. It’s important to be aware of the options open to you. Do you or your family have the funds to cover a full-price university education? Are you a talented athlete or gifted student who could benefit from a scholarship or sponsorship? Could you be sponsored to pursue a vocational degree by a business? Or are you constrained to seek out a cheaper education if possible? Whatever your decision, you should thoroughly research the funding and loan opportunities offered by the institutions you explore. Depending on the school, there might be more or fewer chances to earn some money while attending.
The USA has an estimated 5,300 colleges and universities, and each one is different. There are so many options out there when it comes to universities that you’ll definitely find the place that is right for you. Hopefully this list has helped you to decide what you want to prioritise.
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