Often seen as a place of learning, an institution, and accreditation for our qualifications, it is also the place where we create lifelong memories, gather experiences, nurture interests, start new friendships, swear to make a difference in the world, and perhaps find our calling!
With so many options and specializations available across the globe, careful and diligent research is the key to finding your go-to place. College is not only about academics after all, it’s about finding your community where you can thrive and grow as an individual. College Research becomes like the first step to one of the most important decisions of our life.
Where should you one start College Research? From What you want to study to Where do you want to study to How you should make your dream a reality – College research needs to cover everything in order for it to become a ready reckoner for you to follow as plan forward. Additionally, what becomes important is to explore your unique filters: budget, placements, option to settle overseas, closer to family, sensitivity to rankings and more. These may be different for different students and families and that’s why working closely with a college planning mentor is helpful.
As part of college planning, a mentor would usually help you answer some basic questions:
- Do I want a 4-year private or public college?
- What size college would be best for me? 15,000 students or more, or a moderately/small sized space
- Does being in a prime urban location matter to me? Or would I be happy to be in a rural or suburban setting?
- Will this college suit my financial needs? Do they have scholarships
- What are the eligibility points I need to complete?
In an increasingly tech world, being surrounded by a lot of information can have its own downside. So here are some steps that one can take to create an informed college research document:
Step 1: Visit college websites and take virtual tours
Campus tours are a good way to know the whereabouts of the college even before you get there.
Prospective students can engage in an immersive virtual experience from the comfort of their homes.
Step 2: Go beyond rankings
Industry experts advise one to not just rely on college rankings. Rankings must be taken with a pinch of salt and instead reading about student experiences, faculty ratings and alumni links gives better insights into a college.
Step 3: Meet with your guidance counselor and ask for direction
An independent counselor can often give you an unbiased review of college or university faculty. Keep in mind that these are individual opinion reviews, therefore, use them to inform—not make—your decision.
Step 4: Reach out to college admissions representatives and ask questions
Platforms like Cialfo help counselors to chat with admissions officers, join exclusive events, take virtual tours, and more. Moreover, features like scattergrams reflect the graph plots past acceptances, denials, and waitlist decisions against each student’s high school grade point average (GPA) and SAT or ACT scores from a particular school.
Step 5: Talk to college students and know about the institutions they attend
Through platforms like Unibuddy, you can meet a helpful team of student ambassadors who are there to answer your questions and tell you about life on campus.
Step 6: Attend webinars/ Q&A sessions
Online events such as UnivReach are put together for the community of students, high schools, counselors and parents. This removes any geographical barriers and continues making opportunities accessible.
Researching colleges takes time and effort; it is time and effort to curate your life experiences and not just finding a place to get a paper document, a degree or diploma. Moreover, studying in different countries also requires an in-depth understanding of what’s on offer. The United States might boast of the Silicon Valley or the Netherlands might promise proximity to the International Court of Justice and Canada may be your ticket to immigration; find out what matters to you before you begin applying mindlessly.
First published in Times of India, March 2022