The advent of the Information Age at the start of the millennium has seen the West become a hub for technology, with a focus on developing acute capabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This jumpstart has given the West an edge that other countries are yet to catch up with, naturally leading to advanced education systems and pedagogy in various universities.

Another reason is the quality of research and peer review that lends credibility to the development work carried out in universities, through funding from strategic think-tanks as well as government. Also, a student with a degree from an accredited foreign university fares better, in terms of remuneration, corporate placement, work skills and has been historically known to have better employability values; as the university education in the West, focuses on the practical application of theories. At the end of the day, a degree must be monetised with excellent returns.

Every admission cycle, there’s an inevitable rush for students to gain admits to the university programs of their choice. The business of profile building resumes, Letters of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose, all carefully collated and sent with each application as per the university mandate. If the time for sowing is the application season, then quick on the heels, comes the harvest; a multiplicity of admits for the students who have diligently cast his/her net wide, to seek entry into the best programs in their chosen discipline. Jubilation aside, a student is faced with the most important choice of all – which admit will be his/her ticket to his or her dream job.

When deciding between multiple admits, one must keep the following in mind –

  • The type of program offered based on curriculum design – Whether research or class-based – does it lead to the development of an employable skill set, which will be covered by a potential employer.
  • The Brand name of the university – Checking the student reviews of the university, is a great way to gauge the ground reality, on-campus, be it professors, classes, facilities etc.
  • Recall value with the alumni network – to gain entry in distinguished companies, it always helps to build rapport with the top person, especially if he is an alumnus of the school you graduated from.
  • Internship and Full-time Job Opportunities: Every university website has this information put up and accessible by prospective students. One can avail a list of companies visiting the university’s career fairs and also a list of companies which have hired students from the concerned university.
  • The research projects and laboratory facilities: If there are good research projects on, it means the department has sufficient amount of funding. One will have the opportunity to get hands-on research experience, gauge and enhance one’s ability to apply your knowledge practically and also earn you a research assistantship.
  • Scholarships on offer – If the university has given a scholarship/tuition waiver with the promise of more to come, then that university must be on top of one’s pile. Remember, if they are hospitable and willing to work with you, you have it made.
  • Weather, amenities – Aside from weather that you can handle, a student ought to factor in their ability to find grocery, indigenous foods as per the home country, as per the comfort.
  • The living conditions of the city/township of the University – It is important to check the crime rate, hate crimes, immigrant shoot-outs etc., to ensure that you are going to a place which will support your safety.

Once you have factored in the above, in the order stated, you would be in a better position to pick the admit of your choice. The fact is your educational experience will be with you for life, not only as a life experience but also, it makes you a part of a larger group of people who will share your allegiance to your alma mater. These people would be authorities in their own right, in verticals ranging from business to politics and the fact that you would share a single trait/commonality with them, depending on your choice of university, is enough to give a student pause for consideration in making the right selection.

Having said so, a happy freshman year to you!