Whether you are looking at which University to apply to, or have been accepted by a few and are torn between them, where to study is not an easy question to answer.
The more cynical among you might think, “I'll go to whichever University that accepts me, or whichever is the easiest to get into.”
That is alright as far as your short-term goal of studying abroad is concerned, but a foreign education should always be part of your long-term goals. It should not be so much about how easily you will get into a University, but how it will pan out for you a few years from now.
Ultimately, it depends on the individual to pick a Uni to study in, but we are of the view that you shouldn't compromise on the quality of the University. Studying abroad is going to be a hugely expensive affair, and will take up a few years of your life. It will put you in an alien environment where you would be away from everybody you know, and will have far reaching consequences on your life. You ought to make sure you are doing this for all the right reasons.
Here we discuss in practical terms how to decide which University is not for you. Often the process of elimination can help you arrive at the right choice!
It's over my budget
If something is way over your budget, then it's common sense you shouldn't proceed in that direction. The problem arises when a course is only a little over your budget. You are then caught in limbo, wondering if you should proceed or not.
Your decision then rests on what the University is offering you. What are you getting for the price of the course?
If the University as a whole looks very promising, and many of its former students seem to be doing well, then it is perhaps worth the little extra money it costs.
In any case, never apply to a University you are not entirely convinced about. Never apply under the pressure of an application deadline.
Ask yourself these questions before applying to a University:
- What are the University's credentials?
- Where does the University stand in the global ranking chart?
- Any news reports on the Uni you should be aware of?
- How is the course structured?
- How will it help your career?
- How good is the faculty?
It's important to keep in mind the second question above. Many students don't do their research well in their excitement to study abroad. One of the students I knew, joined the London Metropolitan University, which was later found to be embroiled in some “irregularities” by the UK Home Office. Subsequently, the University's licence to teach international students was revoked. The University also lost its right to authorise visas for overseas (non-EU) students.
The result? Hundreds of international students were left in a lurch and many lost their visa to study in the UK. The student I knew was lucky because she had completed her course before the controversy broke out, but it could so easily have impacted her in a bad way had it not been for her good fortune.
Bear in mind that this was an accredited University to begin with but lost that status due to the controversy. But if the students had done their research well, they could have spotted the dangers early. So don't rely on education consultants alone, do your own research. Good research in these matters is invaluable. During your research if you come across anything remotely fishy about the University you are interested in, keep far away from that institution.
What do you want?
Ultimately, this is what it comes down to.
You can look at a number of features of the Universities you are interested in and endlessly weigh their pros and cons against each other. But that may end up confusing you further. The best way to deal with ambiguity is to trust your own gut instincts and intuition and let your heart guide your choices.
Here are a few questions you need to be very clear about in order to eliminate the wrong choices.
In which country would you like to study?
Some of us are culturally attracted to certain places. A friend of mine has been an Anglophile for as long as I can remember, so when it came to the matter of studying abroad, she had her heart set on the UK. In fact, she is not interested in going anywhere else.
For many of us, the really attractive destination is the US. But which part of the US (it's a big and diverse country) would you like to study in? And why?
This is not a criterion that is often considered by Indian students, but finding a good cultural fit is extremely important.
Where are these Unis located within your study destination?
If you have been applying for colleges in the US, you could be looking at locations as diverse as New Jersey, which is cold and full of Indians; Colorado, which is colder still and has a very low presence of South Asians; and California, which is pleasant and again very vibrant and multicultural. Which type of climate would you prefer? Don't dismiss this as a silly consideration. The weather and the people we are surrounded by affect us more than we think they do.
Which areas have a higher concentration of jobs that you are interested in?
It makes sense that if your aim is to work for Twitter, you wouldn't want to go to a University in Winnipeg.
Networking is as important as studying, and you will need to start engaging in it when you are still at the University; if you want to land a job soon after you have graduated. Hence it is important to choose a place that will offer you more chances of landing a job that is in line with your ambitions and interests.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that if you are geographically far removed from the places that offer a lot of job opportunities pertaining to your skill set, you will end up missing out on the best jobs. If you do apply for them in places far away from your location, it will become difficult for you to travel the length and breadth of the country for interviews. It would also take a toll on your student's budget.
To sum up, if a University is located in a city far removed from where you would want to work, it is perhaps not for you.
Consider these suggestions when shortlisting Universities to apply to. You don't want to enrol into a University and then discover it was a bad choice. Do your research well. You don't want to end up in a University that is caught up in some controversy. The best way to avoid all such issues is to apply to reputed institutions. We, at Hotcourses India, want to help you choose wisely. Have any more tips related to the topic? Feel free to drop in a line or two in the comment section below; we would love to hear from you!
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