How to choose the right university in the US?
Look for class size, student to professor ratio and size of the campus
If you are planning to study in the US, university research done in the right manner would ensure that you land up at a campus, to pursue a course that suits you the best. As a part of your research, you would want to check the official website, Facebook & Twitter accounts for latest updates, attend webinars and connect with the student and alumni network to gain some honest insider information. Or you can use the Connexio App to keep updated on university updates.
Here are the 10 factors that you should definitely consider while creating the final list of universities that you would be applying to:
1. Field of Study:
Gaining clarity on what discipline you want to invest your time and money is the first step you have to take. Self-analysis, academic track record, career advice from teachers, informational interviews with professionals etc. are a few avenues that could help you in your decision making process.
The next step is to start researching online for universities that offer courses in your desired field and create the first list of universities that interests you. Now, start working towards finding your best-fit by thoroughly researching each university around the shortlisting criteria mentioned in this article. Alternatively, you could use the the Connexio App to find the best fit universities based on your profile and preferences.
2. Course Content:
While you know that the universities in your list offer a program in your field of interest, it would be a good idea to go through the course content of the program on the university’s website. There could be specific areas in your discipline that you are particularly interested in and you might want to ensure the university/department offers them.
In case you want to learn more about the course, you could get in touch with the department or current students at the university to get further information.
3. Student to faculty ratio and Average Class Size:
Student to faculty ratio is the comparison of the total number of students enrolled in a university to the total number of faculty working for the university. A lower student to faculty ratio usually indicates lesser students in the class and is preferable because it allows students to form better connections with the professor, participate more and network more in the classroom. A good practice is to look for schools with a student to faculty ratio less than 17:1.
This, however may not be a definitive measure of the class size since every school has its unique way of functioning. Knowing about the average class size along with the student to faculty ratio will be a better indicator to gauge the actual size of the class and the personalized academic attention you would be getting from your professors.
4. Placement and Career Opportunities:
If you aim to get a job after graduating, you have to assess the placement services offered by the universities that you are considering attending. Check about the career services department and the programs they conduct to prepare and connect students with prospective employers.
It is equally important to check the social media updates and to connect with the alumni and student network to learn more about the placement rate, on-campus interview opportunities, job fairs and workshops that the college has conducted in the past to help their students get placed.
5. Total Cost:
Affordability is another key criteria which you have to keep in mind when picking a university. To understand the total expected cost for your education, you have to calculate the tuition and fees for international students, housing, food, commute and other living expenses that you would incur during your stay in the US as a graduate student. Price calculators are usually provided on the official university website to for the benefit of students. Once you know your expenses, you can filter out the universities that don’t fit in your budget. You can always use the Connexio App to look at the university yearly cost and living expenses.
6. Scholarship and Financial Aid:
Financing your education in the US requires a good understanding of the expected expenditure and a proper plan to handle those. There are universities that offer scholarships, financial aid and job opportunities while on-campus. Carefully consider the funding options available to you as an international student for each of the universities that you are interested in. Connexio App discusses how to apply for scholarship in detail in the “Guidance Section”.
Being an international student, you would want to be at a campus that is friendly and supportive to your requirements while studying abroad. Evaluate the international student services offered by the universities you have shortlisted. The current number of international students in the campus would be a good indicator of the support and facilities provided to encourage the international student studying at the university.
8. Location of the Campus:
Geographic regions in the US vary drastically in terms of cost of living, job opportunities, weather conditions, culture and lifestyle. Similarly, a campus located in a city offers a completely different experience as compared to a sub urban or a rural setting. Therefore, location of the campus should be evaluated carefully in terms of your requirements and affordability when selecting a university.
When studying in the US, students can choose to live on-campus or off-campus. Undergraduate students might be required by the university or the state to live in university dormitories for the first year. Many students prefer living on-campus as it is more convenient, economical and provides more opportunities for bonding and interaction between fellow students. For universities closer to city centers, many students favor living off-campus as it is cheaper and more convenient. So it makes good sense to get an idea of the accommodation facilities provided by the universities you are researching and decide on what works well for you.
10. Student Life:
Since you are going to spend most of your time on-campus, ensure that you get the best out of it. Find out about the academic infrastructure, research and lab facilities.
You might definitely want to learn about the sports facilities, clubs, societies and other activities that are held at the college for recreation and student development.