Choosing the Right College for You
Tuesday | February 28, 2017 | by Kaitlin Ramby
Earning a degree in the U.S. or Canada as an international student is the result of many months—if not years—of preparation. With thousands of schools to choose from in both countries, choosing a college that is right for you may be daunting. In this post, we discuss five crucial considerations to think about to simplify the process of shortlisting schools.
Read on to ensure you find a college that is right for you.
1. Assess your current education.
If you earned part or all of your education outside the U.S. and Canada, getting your credentials evaluated by a reputable institution will be essential in knowing what level of education you are eligible to apply for in these countries.
A credential evaluation can help you determine whether you need any other credentials before applying to a school and allows admissions professionals to understand your education when they assess your application. You can begin your credential evaluation with World Education Services (WES) by starting an application today.
2. Determine your education goals.
Think about what you are looking to get out of a school or degree program. Before you begin your research, here are some questions you should ask yourself about the type of education you want:
- Am I going for a bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D., or another type of degree?
- Do I want to gain work experience?
- Do I prefer a small or large campus environment?
- How reputable is the program?
- Is accessibility to professors important to me?
- Is there an alumni group I could reach out to for networking and job opportunities?
- Does the program have opportunities for research?
- Do a high percentage of graduates from this program find work after college?
- Am I likely to earn a higher salary upon graduation from this program?
- Do I want to remain in the country for work after graduating?
When choosing the right college for you, it is important to answer these questions before you start your search. Most importantly, it is important to seek out programs that will give you the best possible education and effectively prepare you for your future career.
A common mistake prospective students make is choosing a school only because it has a high ranking. Although the overall school ranking is important, each school only has a few strong programs. Base your research on what the best programs are for the specific field in which you want to earn your degree to narrow down your search.
3. Begin your research.
Once you have assessed what you want out of your education, it is time to begin researching schools and programs that fit your overarching goals. You can begin by doing a simple Google search to find schools that have your degree, are the most reputable, and the number of international students they accept. You can narrow your search even further by using these helpful resources and college search websites:
When it comes to choosing the right college for you, we typically recommend researching a year and a half to two years from the expected start date. This will give you enough time to create a shortlist of the schools you would like to apply to, understand each institution’s application requirements, and have enough time to prepare the items you need for your application. These items may include:
- Exam results (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, etc.)
- Letters of recommendation
- Credential evaluation
4. Narrow your search.
After doing your research and gaining an understanding of what the top schools are for the degree you are seeking, you can further narrow your search by selecting the schools you would like to apply to. It is best to choose schools that fit into each of these three categories:
- Dream: Schools that are at the top of your list, but have a very competitive admission rate.
- Fit: Schools you have a good chance of gaining entry into because you meet their admissions criteria.
- Safe: Schools you are very confident of gaining admission into if you do not receive entry to other schools. However, this should be a school whose program would still be worthwhile for you to study.
Here are some further criteria you will want to consider to help you narrow your school search:
- School location
- Cost of living
- Tuition costs and school fees
- Opportunities for scholarships and financial aid
- Campus culture
- Student services (for example, career counseling, health services)
- Student clubs and groups
- Campus facilities (for example, gym, tutoring center, library, English
5. Contact schools on your list.
Lastly, contact the schools you are interested in to be sure you get answers to any questions you may have after doing your research. Because you may not find all the answers you need from searching on the school’s website, speaking with a representative of the school either by phone or email may give you a better idea of which institution you want to study at.
Do not be afraid to reach out. Your education is an important investment and you should treat it as such by finding out all of the information you can before deciding where to invest your money.
Hopefully, this quick guide gives you a better idea on how to find the right school for you. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to make the right decision because this will benefit you in the long run.
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