International Education | Articles

10 factors to consider when choosing a college or university

Today, most major college and university campuses include a growing percentage of international students. More and more scholars are choosing to pursue education in a completely new country. It’s mutually beneficial, as the school gains new perspectives and students embark on an invaluable adventure. But how do you decide where to go? It’s a monumental decision as there’s a choice not only between institutions but also countries. Consider these factors before making this important decision.

  1. Location: This is the biggest question. Each country has its own culture, weather, education style and more. Every school will also have its own unique offerings. To narrow down the choice, first note your key qualities. Do you want a college in the middle of a metropolitan city? Or a quieter, small town? The environment is a huge factor, so picture what you want your day-to-day life to look like and select accordingly.
  2. Emphasis on your area of study: Some universities are renowned for their STEM programs and others for their fine arts, architecture and more. Choose a school that invests in your area of study and it will help to ensure a strong focus on that subject, future job prospects and useful networking.

  3. Employment opportunities: Many schools publish their post-graduate employment rates or the steps they take to help with future employment such as job fairs, internships, coaching and more. If you are planning to immigrate to your host city, this type of support will be vital so be sure it’s available.

  4. International student population: On some campuses, international students can make up nearly a third of the population while in others there are only a few. This can be a big factor in choosing where to study. Schools with a large overseas population may have more resources and support for this group but institutions with more local students can provide a better opportunity to immerse yourself in the new culture.

  5. Student/Professor Ratio: You should consider the number of available faculty members in regard to the student population. Places with low student/professor ratios mean that there can be more opportunities for individualized help and teaching. The US average is 16:1, meaning there are 16 students for each staff member but some schools go as low as 3:1. These numbers can provide an idea of class sizes as well.

  6. Housing: Finding a place to live can be a major challenge for students. In many locations, student dormitories are available but are often limited. Major cities can offer more expensive, smaller accommodation while more rural schools might have few options. Each location is unique so ensure you research your top choices.

  7. Education style: Some institutions offer hands-on learning with opportunities for real-life experience while others place more emphasis on classroom learning. Do some research and see what style best suits your personality. With so many options, there is likely a school to match.

  8. Food: Sometimes the biggest factor in experiencing home sickness is culinary. Luckily, it is increasingly likely that larger cities will have cuisine from all around the world. Some schools offer comprehensive meal plans while others rely completely on outside options and cooking. Depending on your preference, look for a place to suit your needs.

  9. Transportation: For some small campuses, transportation is not an issue as buildings and amenities are all within walking distance. For others, access to public transit or a car are critical. Regardless, you will want to explore your new home so look into travel options before you arrive.

  10. Your level of excitement: Though it’s not possible to measure, this is the most important factor. You will be taking the journey to this new location and living there for a number of years, possibly by yourself. It is vital you feel enthusiastic and eager about the experience. This will motivate you to fully embrace campus life and overcome any challenges.