Choosing a university

Choosing a university

There are many factors to consider.

I’ve recently been accepted into three grad schools, and have been faced with a difficult decision. The factors influencing my eventual choice mimic the same decisions I needed to make as an undergraduate, and probably are similar to the kinds of choices that everyone makes when choosing an institution of higher education. A number of factors need to be considered when choosing where you’ll complete your education, so let’s look at a number of those potential factors now:

Location. Although the school and its reputation are probably most important, you’ll still be living in the town or city in which the school is housed. Is the school in a small town, and you prefer a big city? Is it in a huge city that completely intimidates you? Does the school allow you ease in visiting friends and family? You probably will be spending most of your time in the library, but location is still something extremely important in considering where you’ll live for the next few years.


Price. Of course, price should be taken into consideration. If you’re going to pursue a profession in which you’ll never make much money, you’ll want to be able to pay for all of your schooling without getting swamped with student loan payments. However, you don’t want to go to a school that won’t challenge you or give you a productive educational experience just because it’s cheap. If you’re trying to break into a high paying job, the reputation and the educational experience may be more important than its price tag.


Reputation. Although we could all pretend that students from an unknown state university will have all of the same educational opportunities as a Harvard grad, that’s simply not the case. Reputation is important certainly important to future graduates. Also, to some extent, reputation of schools in certain circles—probably not the general public’s opinion, however—can help predict how worthwhile your educational experience be. You probably don’t want to listen to your aunt or the popular media—but listen to the advice of people who really know about schools’ reputations.


Fit. More than anything else, you want to attend a school that just jives with you. You could be accepted to some really amazing school, but feel no energy in connecting with the campus, the professors, or the student body. Particularly for grad school, you need to find a mentor who will help shape you into the person you want to be, so fit is probably the most important factor in choosing a school.


What have been or will be your biggest factors in making decisions about attending various institutions of higher education?