If you’re about to leave school and need to consider your next options, or if you think it’s time to change careers, you’re probably considering enrolling in a university degree. Having a college education can help you to land your dream job, and to enjoy the career you’ve always wanted.
However, keep in mind that with so many courses on offer these days, not to mention hundreds of educational institutions to choose between, picking the right degree and location isn’t the easiest of decisions. You must weigh up things carefully, considering not just the actual degree programs on offer, but a variety of other factors. Read on for some tips to follow to help you choose the right university for your needs.
Consider the Flexibility of Courses
First off, when comparing college choices, it pays to consider how flexible the different courses on offer at universities will be. This can have an impact if you want to be able to choose certain units during your studies, or to avoid having to complete subjects you’re not interested in. As well, if you’re keen to combine degrees, or finish your studies earlier by accelerating your program, speak with your preferred universities to see if they allow this.
Flexibility is important, too, if you’re looking for online options. You may want to study from home rather than on campus so you can continue to work in a full-time job, or so you can schedule your classes around familial or other commitments.
Weigh Up Locations
Next, when deciding which university to attend, weigh up locations too. If, for instance, you are currently living at home with your parents and want to stay that way to save money, you’ll need to find a campus within driving distance. However, if instead you’ve been counting down to the time when you can move away and live by yourself, a university that’s situated in a different town or even different state might work better for you.
Another thing to think about when looking at locations is whether or not campuses are close to amenities. You may require easy access to accommodation, public transportation, grocery stores, cafes and restaurants, shops, and so on.
Alternatively, if you need to travel each day between your job and the university, or between your home and campus because you have kids to look after, consider locations when choosing a degree. A campus that’s located closer to your office or your house might save you a lot of time, energy, and stress, not to mention money (e.g. petrol or other transportation costs).
Find Out About Professors, Facilities, and Opportunities
Of course, you also want to attend a university that is ticking all the right boxes when it comes to the professors you get access to, and the facilities and opportunities available. It’s good to learn from the best teachers possible and, if you want to join a specialized field, you may be particularly interested in a university because a well-known name in the industry lectures there.
When weighing up universities, determine which campuses have the facilities which will be most useful for you too. For instance, you might require special-needs access or tools, or want to have the chance to practice a sport on the most modern equipment. Other facilities which may be important to you are science labs, specialized equipment, research clinics, on-site accommodation, adequate parking, and safety precautions like proper lighting, on-site security personnel, cameras, and panic buttons.
As for opportunities, try to divine whether the universities you’re interested in offer things like student exchange programs, and financial aid (e.g. scholarships or grants). You may also be interested in learning about the campus culture, and what kinds of clubs and other groups you might be able to join during your years studying on site.
Learn About Graduation Statistics and Employment Rates
Something else to check out when comparing options is what kind of graduation statistics and employment rates the universities boast. That is, what percentage of students actually graduate, particularly from the course you’re most interested in, and how easily do they get full-time work after they’re completed their studies?
If, for example, you’re interested to learn about biomedical engineering degree results, ask university staff for specific, recent numbers – they should have this information. It’s also wise to talk to past students to get their honest take on how valuable they found their degree. Ask them if they found the university helpful when it came to making employment connections and landing internships and jobs, and if their choice of university was viewed favorably when they started applying for positions.