Choosing a University
With so many universities in the United States, it is important to consider the following factors when choosing universities:
You do not have to decide your major at the point of application. However, if you have an idea of what you want to study, you will want to make sure the university offers degrees in your academic majors of interest. Additionally, you will want to investigate academic opportunities such as: the student to faculty ratio, opportunities to do undergraduate research, honours or scholars programmers, whether you can do internships for academic credit and more.
Location and Campus Setting/Size
Don’t forget to take into account the location of a university, as it could be the place you live for the next four years. The US spans six time zones and offering a wide range of geographic and cultural diversity, climates and ways of life. You will also want to consider the campus setting and size. Also consider universities and areas that are centres of excellence in your field, where you may find related internships, work experience and networking opportunities.
Each university has its own distinct atmosphere. It is important to choose the place that is the best fit for you. You may want to consider what type of experience you are looking for – an academically rigorous experience in which you are constantly challenged and kept on your toes or more of a balance between your academic demands and extracurricular interests. You will also want to make sure the universities you select have your desired organisations, clubs, sports, community service opportunities and facilities on offer.
Competitiveness of Admission
We would be remiss if we did not point out that some of the top-tier US universities have an admission rate of around 10%. Therefore, to help ensure you receive several admissions offers from which to choose, you will want to select a well-rounded list of universities.
Cost and Availability of Funding
Tuition and fees rates can vary significantly from university to university. The cost of living can vary by location as well, with some parts of the US having a lower cost of living than others (such as universities in suburban or rural areas or in the South and Midwest). Also, the funding available for international students can change drastically between institutions. As you consider universities you may want to visit the financial aid page of their website to see what funding they have available.
Accreditation and Reputation
If you have any questions about the reputation of a US university, you will want to ensure the university is accredited by a regional accreditation body recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org ) or in the US Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions (www.ed.gov). Many students only consider universities that they’ve heard of, such as Ivy-league and “brand-name” universities. This is certainly your choice; however, we do encourage students to consider a wide range of universities to find the best fit possible. Unofficial rankings, such as US News & World Report and Princeton Review will give you a general idea of the academic reputation and relative prestige of a university. However, it is important to realise that a top 20, or even top 100, list of universities covers only a small percentage of the universities available. Also note, rankings are not always based upon factors that could be most important to you.