This is the first and most important question you should ask yourself (and you should ask it repeatedly) before choosing a university. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a university, and people will tell you different things about each university you’ve been accepted to. However, out of the vast list of criteria you must consider what is most important to you. Whether you’ve been dreaming of a specific college forever, or are totally overwhelmed by your options, we are here to help you make an informed and clear decision that is right for YOU.
Have you always dreamed of living in New York City or L.A., or it is as simple as moving somewhere away from home? Do you want go to university in your own state so that you can visit home often, or would you rather not go away at all, and live at home during university so you can cut costs and continue eating delicious home-cooked meals? Consider the location of each prospective university, even do a bit of research into the neighbourhood of each - do they have a good art scene? Are there lots of young people? Nice running paths? Know your options and consider which environment you would enjoy living in the most.
If you’re going into general arts or something that isn’t too specific, or if you have no idea what you want to major in yet, this may matter less to you. However, if you’re going into a specific program that only a handful of universities in the country offer, then this might be a major consideration for you. Similarly, if you’ve been accepted to a certain program at a school that specializes in that department, and is ranked as being one of the top schools in the country for that degree, then perhaps the program you choose to study is an extremely important criterion.
3. Reputation & Prestige
Harvard, Yale, Princeton...when you think of these three schools what comes to mind immediately is their prestigious reputations. Not only are they some of the oldest colleges in North America, but they are continually ranked as some of the best in the world. If you’ve been accepted to a prestigious university, it is important to consider the benefits that come along with the “name.” Regardless of what you’re degree is in, if a future employer sees that you graduated from Harvard, this play a major role in being hired. In addition, if you plan on working or studying abroad, it helps to have attended a university that people have heard of.
4. Professors & Research Facilities
Though this may matter more if you decide to study at a postgraduate level, it’s still something worth considering. If you already know what you want to major in, search up the professors in the department and read their credentials. If you hope to pursue a career in what you’re studying, it’s good be taught by and develop relationships with well-known professors in their field. Along with this, look up what research facilities the university offers - both offline (libraries), online (databases), and financial (grants for research projects).
5. Cost & Financial Aid
I know this may not be something you want to consider, but unfortunately, it needs to be taken into account. Some universities are simply outrageously expensive, so before you make a decision it’s essential to create a budget for yourself. Consider not only the cost of tuition, but books, food, transportation and accommodation (if you’re living away from home). Look into the financial aid options offered by the school - some can offer more aid than others. Both bursaries and scholarships should be available, and be sure to search up scholarships online and in your local area as opposed to relying solely on the aid offered by the specific universities. For more information, check out The Best Resources For Finding Scholarships.
6. Social Life
Some universities are known for having a vibrant social life, with a vast array of school clubs and societies, and on-campus events. If the social aspect of university life is very important to you, then research what sort of emphasis various universities place on extracurriculars and the campus community. Is the university into sports? How many clubs do they have? Are there campus activities held throughout the year? All universities will have some degree of a social life so rest assured you won’t be totally isolated, but some schools are definitely more known for their school spirit than others.
Your Job: Consider this list of criteria before making a decision. Rank each of them in order of most important to least important and then analyze which universities check the most boxes for you.