Choosing the right university for you

October 4, 2018 - Flutura Selaci

You can make your choice easier by considering a number of factors when deciding where to apply

The Basics

There are two groups of universities in the USA: public universities, which are supported by state governments, and are usually less expensive; and private universities, which receive no government funding, and are usually more expensive. However, many private universities offer significant financial aid, so investigate carefully before rejecting anything based on price. Within these two groups, there is a wide variety of size, status and focus.

Location

Consider the US as more of a continent of different countries - that's how huge and diverse the climates and landscapes are. Location is another important factor to consider when making university choices. Do you want to be in the East or West, North or South? Year-round sun or knee-deep snow? Small towns where everyone knows your name, or big city where you can get lost in the crowd? Remember to also consider your commute – universities in rural locations may be virtually inaccessible without a car.

Academics

At most American universities, you do not need to choose your major until after your first year, but you must consider academic offerings before you apply. If you have a particular major in mind, then check that the universities on your list offer that subject. Most universities also require you to complete some core curriculum – be sure to check these requirements carefully.

Quality of Life

You won’t be in class all the time, so take time to investigate other aspects of student life. What are your housing options? Where will you eat? Will you be able to play the sports and be involved in the activities that you enjoy? If you are hoping to work on campus while studying, check that these opportunities are available; and if you hope to stay in the USA after graduation, check that the career service will be able to help you with your job hunt.

Selectivity

Finally, you must consider the selectivity of the school. Universities tend to have many more applicants than they have places, at Ivy League universities less than 10% of applicants are accepted (even though universities such as Yale estimate that at least 75% of their applicants are more than qualified to attend). Be realistic about your list and remember that your A-Level grades and SAT/ACT test scores are the most important elements of your application, and these should match (or exceed) the profile of the average incoming student.

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