The Complete guide on selecting a University of your choice

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guide on selecting a university

When choosing a university, bear one thing in mind: it’s not all academic. Its not just about finding a course that matches your interests, you have to think carefully about the whole student experience and whether it suits your requirement. The course undertaken, rather than the university, will be the focus of your experience. If you’re aiming to join a Undergraduate or Postgraduate program in Fall 2016, now is the time to start preparation for it. It is a long and quite boring process – you need to start early if you want to ensure that you get the best university that you can get into. Now we have guide on selecting a university of your choice.


1. Quality of education

While studying abroad look to choose universities which is rated high by quality of education, institutes in the US rank among the top universities in the world, and you will sometimes be taught by the leaders in the respective fields. For example, if you study in UMass, you might attend lectures by the legendary Jim Kurose from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


2. Experience a standard

Studying abroad is a different experience altogether – you will get a chance to experience different cultures, see new things and enrich yourself personally. Many universities have credits for some fun, non academic courses – Imagine finishing a course on ballroom dancing as a part of your Masters!

See More: Why should you be studying abroad?


3. University of your dreams

Prepare a list of universities that you are interested in. You can refer QS World Rankings and THE World University Rankings. THE & QS also provides detailed ranking by University Departments and Courses. But please do not select colleges based purely on rank – most of the rankings are meaningless. Also in terms of research, the rankings don’t mean a thing. If you are going for a Phd, purely see research capability of your department in the university – who is teaching there, what are they working on etc. If you are going for a Masters, the university should have a strong department in your area of interest.

Classify universities that you are interested in, based on four factors

  • Safety Factor (easy to get in),
  • Medium Risk (Maybe or Maybe not),
  • High Risk (Tough nut to crack), and
  • Dream Choice (Mission Impossible)

Mix and match universities from these classes to get your final list. I’d recommend going for 10 or fewer universities, with the split like this : 2 safes, 4 medium, 3 high, 1 dream. The important point is to always aim for universities higher than your current – please do not go for all safes. Note: Your profile should be near the average profile to be accepted by the university.

See More: 3 Points to consider when applying at Stanford University


4. Contacting professors

Your course is your priority than the university of Choice hence go through the websites of universities that you have shortlisted. Become somewhat familiar with the work that they are doing. Zero in on 2-3 professors that you would like to work with. Read their work. If you can think of ways of usefully extending their research, mail them about it – Introduce yourself, tell them what you have worked on, how it relates to project X of the professor, and your idea Y of extending it. Impressing a professor virtually guarantees an admit in that university. However, don’t spam professors – do not mail more than 2 professors per university and only mail when you have some idea of extending their work. Also, attach text resumes with the emails you sent – do not attach pdf resumes, as they will lead to your email getting filtered into spam. Even for Masters or Undergraduates it is recommended to mail professors regarding the course, it will give you better understanding about the course with factors you are looking to improve as a skill.

See More: 3 Strategic phases to follow when writing an email to a professor


5. Writing tests

You need to give some tests for applying to MS – GRE/GMAT/SAT for General skills and TOEFL/IELTS/PTE for Language skills. Considering the most common factorial of GRE, get the Barron’s book for GRE – it should be sufficient if you generally read a lot. The higher ranked a university is, the lesser importance it gives to GRE. On the other hand, TOEFL/IELTS are very easy, you should be able to get good scores on it if you have a decent English Language skill on Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

See More: 20 tips you must follow to score 8.5 in IELTS


6. Recommendations

The people who recommend you for admission should be a person in good standing with the academic community, who is able to judge whether a candidate will do well in a graduate course. Professors should be the first choice, followed by assistant professors. Recommendations from the head of departments are highly regarded. However, don’t blindly get recommendation letter from professors who barely know you – Ideally, the person recommending you should have taken a class for you, and should know you personally. The more personal a recommendation letter, the better it serves the purpose.

See More: Academic Requirements for Engineering Candidates in USA


7. Applying

Now comes the actual process of applying to universities. This starts in around August. Most universities require you to send your transcripts with other required documents to them by postal mail. Try to make sure that they get the package by October end. Certain universities have rolling admissions, which means instead of getting all the applications and processing them, they process each application one by one. In these universities, you stand a slightly higher chance if you apply early.

Its not just about a dream that you fulfill with your decision of higher education abroad but it defines a moment in your life where you choose to transform yourself into a purposeful individual with this choice of Life, So think twice and take the leap forward, Wish you all the best.

Feel free to share this post with everyone whom you know would benefit from the points mentioned in this article and also help others wit your study abroad experience by commenting below:





Written by

Vinay Nair likes to explore topics related to higher education and looks forward to help prospective students with queries related to their study abroad dreams.


6 thoughts on “The Complete guide on selecting a University of your choice

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