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How to ace your university choice in the US

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We’re all aware of how the United States is home to some of the world’s most prestigious and innovative colleges and universities, with plenty of opportunities for growth and exploration! As the month of May trots along, and admissions for top colleges and universities pitch their tent at the back of our minds, we look at a few tips & thoughts on how one can choose a college or a university in the States.

As we move further into the merry(but extremely hot) month of May, we see that the countdown to college admissions has officially begun! The question in our minds now is not about how and why it is so hot?! But, with so many colleges and universities to choose from, where does one apply !! 🤯We hear you, on both fronts 😛

As the saying goes, “The world is your oyster,” but how do you know which oyster to choose? So, in this blog, we’ll explore the important factors to remember when choosing colleges and universities in the USA and sprinkle in some fun facts and interesting statistics along the way. So let’s dive in!

Right off, choosing the right college or university in the USA can be an uphill task, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the American education system. Having a basic laundry list of must-have elements always works, and it should always start with >

Step 1: Consider your goals and interests ☑️

Yes, pretty simple, and straightforward – the first step in choosing a college or university is to consider your goals and interests.
What do you want to study?
What career path do you want to pursue?
What kind of extracurricular activities have you been pursuing and what are you interested in? These are all important questions to ask yourself as you begin your search. You see, a lot of us may not have 100% clarity at this very moment, and it’s totally alright to not know everything. At this juncture, evaluating your goals, interests, hobbies and talents gets you up to speed with a good part of your decision-making process. 

Step 2: Research schools ⚒️

Perhaps, this is a point you may have already read about or what have done, but once you have a clear idea of your goals and interests, it’s time to start researching about schools and their historical impact – what are their courses, how strong is the alumni network, any laureates that have graduated from your course and what could be your subjects! Additionally, there are a number of micro factors to consider when evaluating colleges and universities, including location, size, and campus culture – which we’ll shortly touch upon. 

Step 3: Consider co-op programs 💼

One factor that is often overlooked, or gets lost in translation when choosing a college or university is the availability of co-op programs. Co-op, short for “cooperative education,” is a program that allows students to alternate semesters between classroom learning and full-time work experience in their chosen field. This is a sure-shot valuable way to gain real-world experience and make connections in your industry.

While doing our research, we came to know that Drexel University in Philadelphia was one of the first universities to kick off the ingenious idea of Co-Op programs almost 105 years ago in 1919! 

Fun fact ⭐
Northeastern University in Boston is known for its co-op program, which has been ranked #1 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for six consecutive years. Check out the university and its rankings here

Now now, a critical step to fulfilling your goal is to Consider the affordability of a particular institution. 

It’s important to consider affordability when choosing a college or university. This includes not only tuition and fees but also the cost of living on or off campus, as well as potential financial aid opportunities! A lot of things on campuses are driven by money and living sustainably requires some bit of planning, some bit of calculation & math ➕ ➖

P.S: We came across Harvey Mudd College while doing our research, and saw its fees for AY 2023. They estimate an amount of $89,115, for you as the cost of attendance, making it one of the costliest colleges in America! ( *$89,115 = ₹72,83,346 😵‍💫 😵‍💫) 


What other factors do you suggest we should consider?

Location, folks location! 📍

Analyse this way, the location of a college or university can greatly affect your college experience. Do you prefer a city or a rural setting? Would you like to be close to the beach or the mountains? Consider what kind of environment you would thrive in and what kind of extracurricular activities you would like to participate in. For example, if you love skiing, you might want to consider colleges in Vermont or Colorado. On the other hand, if you prefer the beach, you might want to consider colleges in California or Florida.

Makes sense right? Being close and attached to what you want to do, also reaffirms your interests & hobbies.

Size matters 📦

Colleges and universities come in all shapes and sizes. Do you want to attend a small liberal arts college with a tight-knit community, or do you prefer a larger university with a diverse student body? Consider the size of the college or university and whether it will provide the kind of environment where you can thrive academically and socially. This is also a tangential decision based on your current comfort zone and how you’d like to shape up in the future. 

An absolute no-brainer, campus & campus life! 🏫

Campus life at a college or university is an important factor to consider. Are there plenty of extracurricular activities and clubs to join? Is there a sense of community on campus? What is the social scene like? Look into the campus culture and what kind of opportunities there are to get involved.

Did you know: Duke University has a tradition called the “Krzyzewskiville,”, or simply K-ville where students camp out for weeks before big basketball games to secure the best seats in the student section 🔥Amazing right? In addition, a good campus also weighs on the security aspect. Naturally, being in a foreign country may crop up a fair share of worries at home. Campus safety should be a top consideration when choosing a college or university. If you want to deep dive further, search for emergency mechanisms & safety measures in place on campus. Also, Consider the availability of campus security and emergency response services – quite a bunch of campuses have this data on their website or would be happy to share it over an email.

C for College, C for Career 💻

A crucial factor of your search criteria should be to consider the career services offered by the college or university. Ask your peers & search along these lines – Does the college or university have a strong career centre that can help you find internships and job opportunities

Look into the alumni network and the job placement rate of graduates to see if the college or university can help you achieve your career goals. Each college is a melting pot of its alumni, students and their education – and thus better alumni = greater job opportunities. 

Imagine this – Students pursuing Masters in Data Science at the Virginia University, saw a record 98% placement record that too with a delectable annual compensation of $118,000 on average. They’ve gone ahead and published this data for all of us to read here

So, what is STEM & how does it help?

Another spotlight, that shines bright in the US Academic diaspora is around the axes of STEM Education. Mostly known well, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and it includes a range of fields such as computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. 

STEM education is a crucial part of many college and university programs, and it can be a significant factor in choosing a school too. One of the primary benefits of STEM education is the job opportunities it provides. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM occupations are projected to grow by 8.8% between 2020 and 2030, compared to 3.7% for non-STEM occupations. This means that graduates with a STEM degree are likely to have better job prospects and higher earning potential – making it a crucial point if you’re on the lookout for jobs right after completing your course. You know, STEM education also helps students foster critical thinking skills!

The third act – Culmination!

As all good things do, our friendly little blog comes to an end. We honestly feel that by following these steps and considering a range of factors, you can make a great decision that will set you right & strong on the path to success. So folks, whether you’re interested in business, engineering, or the arts, there is a school out there that is the perfect fit for you. It’s a progressive world out there, where everybody is respected and welcomed. Diversity and inclusivity, we feel are must-haves when choosing a college or university. Don’t forget to consider co-op programs and affordability, and most importantly, have fun!!