BCUF Recap – Choosing the Right University and Program
November 8, 2016
So you went to the Bronte University Fair, talked to the different representatives, and now you have to choose where you want to apply. You might know what program you want to apply for but not which school or vice versa. You might not even know what program or school. That’s OK! Picking a program and a university is a tough and important decision, so take a deep breath and read on for tips on picking the right university and program for you.
- Find a program you like
Look through some school brochures and their listings of degrees and programs. Which programs sound appealing to you? Take a note of the program names and do some more digging. Look into the application requirements and also look at the degree requirements; What courses will you have to take to apply? What courses will you have to take to get the degree? And, while this is much farther ahead in the future, it’s always good to start thinking about what kinds of career paths might this degree lead to.
You could also reverse the process of choosing a program by finding career paths that appeal to you and work backwards from there. However, it is important to note that there are always more paths than one to a career and if you find you already dread acquiring the degree that is required for a specific career, it might be a good indication that you will also dislike the career and should consider some other options.
If you still don’t know what you want to study, then look for schools with a more flexible program of study that will allow you to either declare a major later on in university or choose a more general degree over a specialized one.
Tip: When comparing the same or similar programs between schools, don’t ask “Do you have a good [science] program?”; instead, ask “What makes your [science] program different/unique/better than other schools?” It will lead to more valuable answers from whomever you’re asking.
- Find a school you like
Once you have decided on a program, it is time to decide where you would like to study. The university you choose to attend will not only be your school, but likely also your home for the next four years, so it’s important to consider not only academics but also your living conditions and conveniences around the school. This means a lot of things to consider when comparing schools, so learn to love a spreadsheet software and use it to help you evaluate your options. Similar to university rankings done by countless publishers, you should evaluate your options based on the factors that are important to you.
There are a lot of standard factors you should consider for when choosing a school, such as program reputation, school size, tuition, and location; However, you should also consider your own personal criteria, like whether the school has a Quidditch team or how far you have to travel from campus to get bubble tea. Whatever the criteria, list it all out in the spreadsheet and go visit the schools. It will help you get a better sense of where and how you will potentially be spending the next 4 years.
(P.S. Open houses > school tours, because students and faculty will be there to talk to you about the program, residences will be open for tours, and admissions officers will be there to answer application/offer questions)
There are also some factors you might not think of that you should consider when choosing an university and program. For instance:
- What scholarship/bursary/grant opportunities are offered by the school?
- Are there paid co-op/work study/PEY/internship opportunities?
- Are there international exchange opportunities (and if so, to which countries/schools)?
- What academic support is available to you?
- What non-academic support is available to you?
Researching universities’ available resources will not only help you choose the university that offers the right support for you, but will allow you to take advantage of them once you accept an offer.
If all else fails, talk to your guidance counsellor and see what suggestions they may have for you!