When choosing the right college to apply to, it is easy to get blindsided by global rankings and the halo of the prestige of certain institutions. Factors such as weather, political climate, culture, college size, and the academic institution’s idiosyncrasy are seldom factored in when college shortlisting. However, these can become much more important than students and parents realize.
College is much more than a place to study, it is the place you will call home for the next four or more years. What may appear trivial at first, such as how cold the city gets for months on end, the academic pressure and expectations, social life on campus, how liberal the region is, or how heartwarming people are, will impact the quality of your experience. Hence, it is paramount to consider what happens after you gain admission to your a-priori-considered dream school. It may happen that after succeeding in getting in, you realize it does not fulfil your expectations because you failed to conduct proper research as to what living and studying there is actually like.
Your college years are arguably some of the most significant of your life. You experience a level of freedom unlike at any other stage in life, which allows you to connect deeply with both people and ideas. During this time, you are able to explore, experiment, develop your own thoughts and understand who you are, what you value, and what you wish to achieve. In a nutshell, your college years set the foundation for the rest of your life, professionally and otherwise. For this reason, finding the right fit is key.
A good place to start is to perform an in-depth assessment of your profile, which includes your academic record, super curricular and extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements, but also your personality, interests, and passions. Equally, consider what is important to you in a college and the place where it is located. Then you can start narrowing down the geographical areas that are better suited for you, followed by the universities and programs that better conform to your profile. It is also important to determine what each university looks for, as you may be the perfect candidate for one institution but ill-matched for another. Comprehending the mission, values, and vision of the university and being honest about whether or not they align with yours will help you increase your chances of admission and ensure you are happy there if accepted.
There are many first-rate universities and undergraduate programs around the world, yet not all of them are created equal. Understanding the differences, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each, will help you ascertain your best match and make the most out of your academic journey.