College 101: 7 important factors for choosing the right university

Congratulations on getting one step closer to graduating secondary school. The best part about your journey is that the real fun hasn’t even started yet! Now is the time to think about life after secondary school- university. Finding the right college is tough, believe us, we know. Every institution has its own personality, culture, academic standards and structure. Because your tertiary education plays such a crucial role in preparing you for the real world and shaping your identity, it’s important to start your research early and know what you want before you apply.

To get you started on your journey of exploration, we’ve made a list of some factors we think are helpful to consider when choosing a college.

Location
Are you interested in attending school in your home country or abroad? If you want to remain in your home country, how far or near do you want to be from your family and community? If you’re an international student, would you want or be able to go home during the holidays?

Weather
Whether you’re going from Morocco to South Africa or New York to San Francisco, weather and climate differ greatly across regions. Some places have snow, some sun and others torrential rains. What kind of weather are you prepared to engage with?

Learning Model
Attending college should be a holistic experience that encompasses learning, skill development, personal and professional growth and building a strong network. Learning models differ from one college to the next. From liberal arts to seven Meta Skills, colleges approach learning in their own way. Think about how you learn best and what institution can provide the best learning experience possible.

Cost/Financial Aid Opportunities
The big one. Access to tertiary education can be expensive with limited access. Be aware of different financial aid opportunities. In most cases, financial aid comes in two forms: need-based aid (how much you/your family can afford to pay) and merit-based aid (scholarships based on academic performance). There are also external and private scholarship opportunities that are only a google search away.

Extra-curricular Activities
Do you have any interests outside of academics? Many established institutions already have several clubs and organisations ranging from intramural sports to religious affiliation and more. Extra-curricular activities help you develop leadership and peer collaboration skills. They also serve as a great way to engage with your campus outside of the classroom. If a college you’re interested in doesn’t have an activity you are passionate about, find out if you can start your own!

Demographics/Diversity
Belonging to a community of diverse cultural backgrounds can be a great way to get to know more about the world and yourself. Race, gender and nationality are a few of the factors that make up campus population demographics. Take time to figure out how important this is to you because the truth is, it’s almost impossible to go through college without interacting with others.

Alumni Network/Postgraduate Opportunities
Are you already thinking about life after college? Access to postgraduate programmes, jobs and alumni across the world can contribute to your post-college experience. It might be worth getting information about the percentage of graduates that pursue postgraduate programmes, get jobs within six months of graduation and recent alumni activity.

The list is endless but we hope this helps. What other factors have you considered during your college/university search?

 

Note: This article was originally published on April 11th, 2016. Last updated on January 17th, 2017

About ALU

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students declare missions, not majors.

They develop the real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now.

Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us

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