Choose the Right University

We are fortunate to live in a country with so many excellent universities.  However, at the same time, it can be a bit daunting to have to decide which one is the right one for you.  In order to make the right choice, you need to do some careful research and ask yourself some important questions.  Like Peter Benedict St Andrews, you want to be sure that you will have no regrets about where you end up studying.

Online vs Brick and Mortar

For many people, especially “non-traditional” students who may be returning to school in their thirties or beyond, the increasing availability of online universities offers many advantages.  For example, students with young children or aging parents may be reluctant to move to a city that involves uprooting their family or being too far away to help with care.  It might also be the case that these students may not be prepared to ask their spouse to give up his or her job.  Online options are great for such students because they make it possible to integrate the pursuit of a higher education with other priorities in their lives.  At the same time, other students might feel a bit adrift in an entirely online program.  For some, a big part of the university experience involves being a part of the university community, and they may miss the opportunity to make new friendships and to participate in university life on a daily basis.

Reputation and Culture

You should also be sure to understand as much as you can about the university’s reputation and culture.  In an important way, this means looking into the job prospects that are available to its graduates, especially those graduating from the program you are considering.  Of perhaps you are more interested in finding out about how easily graduates are able to pursue graduate or professional training in the nation’s top schools.  It also means finding out about the non-academic elements of the university’s reputation – that its, its culture.  Is it known as a “party university” or a place for serious students?  Is there a culture of inclusion and diversity, or does the university tend to attract a particular kind of student?  Is the administration known to be supportive of its students in all aspects?  Don’t forget to look into the community in which the university is located – is the town or city a place that you could imagine yourself living for several years?

Teaching vs Research Institutions

Do you prefer the idea of being in an institution where professors are highly-published and committed to research?  Or are you more interested in attending an institution that puts more emphasis on the teaching quality of its professors?  It isn’t always the case that you need to choose, but in general professors at larger, research-oriented universities tend to have less time to spend with undergraduate students, and may not even teach many undergraduate courses.  These research universities can be very exciting from an intellectual and cultural perspective as they tend to attract internationally recognized scholars and may be able to offer a much wider range of courses than a smaller university.  However, students who prefer to have more one-on-one interaction with their professors in smaller classes may prefer to attend a smaller and more specialized university.

With a careful consideration of your priorities and some time spent researching your options, you are sure to find the best fit for you.