Starting the search for the “right” university for you!

Starting the search for the “right” university for you!

Let’s look at the reasons for choosing universities that you would like to apply to.  Each person has their own reasons for picking universities to apply to and eventually the more difficult decision of which one to attend, but the first reason below should be the same for everyone:

1. They offer the academic program (for Bachelors programs, this would be your “major”) that you are looking for.  This is #1 on this list, because if they do not offer your selected area of study, then the rest of these items do not matter.  Keep in mind that sometimes we name our “majors” slightly differently than you would be familiar with.  For example…You might be looking for a Bachelor’s in Economics, and some schools will offer it by this name, while other schools might call it Business Economics.   Another good example is Engineering….some schools will offer a Bachelors of Engineering, but then you will need to look at their web site to see what specific areas of Engineering they actually offer.

2. Everyone wants their university to have a “Good Reputation”, and they want it to have a “Good Ranking”.   This is both understandable and also very interesting.  Understandable because yes, it is important that you look at a college or university that offers academic quality and very good student services.  HOWEVER…in regard to “ranking”, it is very important to realize that THERE IS NO NATIONAL RANKING of universities in the U.S.  There are magazines that list and rank some of the many colleges and universities, but these are private rankings.  They are a good resource, however it is also important to realize that 1) Not all colleges and universities choose to participate in the surveys, and 2) some universities choose to be listed in the “national” listing, while others choose to be in the “regional” listing.  If you are going to use these private magazines, it is recommended that you look at various magazines that offer different types of rankings or lists and compare what criteria they use to come up with their rankings to try and see which of these factors is really important to you.

3. Location can be very important to some of you while to others it is not so important.  A few things I can recommend to you:

– The U.S. is a very large country, so please realize that it might not be possible to live in one town and go to university in another town.  It just depends on how close they are and what transportation options you have.

– The weather can change throughout the year, depending on where you live, so location might be part of your decision.  Many parts of the U.S. offer you four Seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  In the Southern half of the U.S, the weather does not change as much, but in the northern half, the weather and temperature changes throughout the year.  On campuses all across the Northern United States, you can enjoy the Winter months from November to February.  Many international students living in the Northern U.S. are able to try things like snow skiing and ice skating for the first time.   There are fantastic schools in every one of the 50 states, so you have many choices.

4. University education in the U.S. is EXPENSIVE.  I wish I could tell you something different, but that is the truth.  This is, again, why it is very important that you make the best decision for you.   It doesn’t matter where your friends went or if you have heard of the sports teams at a certain school.  What really matter is whether they offer what you need AND that you, or your family, or your sponsor can afford to pay for it!   You need to look at the school’s TOTAL expenses for a year.  They will usually give you that amount on their website or international student application.

5. International Student Services is not something you might think of right away as being important, but I can tell you that an international student office with well-trained and professional staff members can help your experience at the school be very good, or it can be the cause of a lot of frustration.  When researching universities, look on their web site and search for the international office…see what they have to say and what programs and services they offer.  E-mail them a question or request for information and see if they reply.  It might not be immediate, but schools that are staffed appropriately and value having an international student population on campus should reply.  A few important services that you will probably be using:

International Student Orientation, Immigration Advising, International Club, and Information Sessions on qualifying for internships and Practical Training work experiences.

Learn more tips on finding a university here.

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