Will your days in high school or junior college soon be drawing to a close? Then, before you know it, it’ll be time to say “Bye bye school, hello college.” Maybe you’ve already decided which course to pursue and you’re eagerly looking forward to college life. Th e question is, do you know which college will be the right one for you? Finding the right college or university is no picnic. Often, even the brightest students find themselves in ‘Wrong Choice College’ because they didn’t do their homework. So, all you aspiring chartered accountants, engineers, fashion gurus, doctors, secretaries, media moguls, astronauts, and the rest – here are a few tips to help you negotiate the complex college selection process and improve your chances of making a fi nal smart choice.
1. Don’t go for the glamour; Focus on the facts
You might have heard of some of your friends foolishly choosing a mobile based on its cool design. Well, judging a college by its looks is far worse. When it comes to making one of the most important decisions in your life, you shouldn’t be focusing on something as superficial as an attractive campus or college building. Instead, gather as much accurate information about the colleges you’re considering. Don’t reseach the surface level stuff , but the things that matter, such as the academic credentials, the faculty, and the infrastructure.
2. Talk to Teachers, Parents, Ex-Students & Friends
Ronil Mokashi had selected a less popular college in Mumbai as his first choice for the BE degree only because it off ered the Electronics and Telecommunications programme, a much sought aft er stream of engineering at that time. He says, “Fortunately, a relative informed me that students could review their subject and college choices based on available vacancies in subsequent admissions rounds. That’s how I got admission for Computer Engineering at the more reputed FrConceicao Rogrigues College of Engineering.” Referring to the valuable tip-off from his relative, Mokashi says, “That was the best advice I got. And I don’t regret the switch.”
Vinayak Khot, now pursuing postgraduate studies in the US, says, “Considering reviews and suggestions from close friends and others on the same career path has helped me make the right career decision.”
So don’t hesitate to seek friendly advice from people close to you or those who can give you an informed opinion. These people could be teachers, college professors, exstudents and current students, as well as professionals in the field you’re interested in. Education-related publications are another useful resource for information about suitable colleges.
3. Don’t make college ranking the sole deciding factor
Agreed, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to join a highly ranked college. As Ashish Bagate who completed his BE from College of Engineering, Pune, says, “ For my bachelor’s degree, the brand and rank of the college was important. Good rank and brand meant quality education and good job prospects.” This does make sense, for some colleges are highly reputed in specific fields of study. Even so, it would be unwise to make the ranking of a college the only deciding factor and have just big-name institutions in your final list. Don’t forget, the best ranked college might not be the best one for you.
So don’t be obsessed with rankings. Jon Reider, Director of College Counseling at San Francisco University High School in San Francisco, CA, says a common mistake is being hooked on a particular prestigious college and points out, “Students should keep their minds open to a variety of options.”
4. Think about what you expect from your college
Explaining why he chose a college in the US for a PhD in Computer Science, Moussa Ehsan, an Iranian student, says, “Back home, we have excellent professors for teaching theory. But unlike in the US, the stuff you study in computer science in Iran is not that much related to what is being used in the industry.”
Prachi Soman, currently studying for the Chartered Financial Analyst degree programme administered by the renowned CFA Institute, USA, defends her choice saying, “It is very important to have a good quality education in your chosen field. This way even your peers are highly talented and you can learn a lot from them.”
So set your priorities. Think of what aspects of a college would be important for you. If you’re interested in going beyond academics and developing other skills, check if a particular college will be able to support these aspirations.
5. Decide on the location
Some of you might be looking to spread your wings and study at a college as far away from home as possible, or even overseas. Others might be more comfortable joining one that is closer to home and does not involve a long commute. However, some parents don’t want their children to wander off too far from the nest. So do include location as an important selection factor. Those who are thinking of studying abroad should also take into consideration the climate and cost of living in different parts of that country while short-listing colleges to apply to.
6. Check opportunities for Extra-Curricular activities
Ideally, a college should help you grow intellectually, and also as a person. So see that your short-listed colleges off er extra-curricular activities that match your interests. Getting involved in the right activities will enrich your college experience. A good mix of study and play is essential! Sunila Navalkar, a recently retired maths and science teacher from St Xavier’s High School, Mumbai, says, “When the syllabus is mundane, like in the case of Mumbai University, extra-curricular activities can enhance a college student’s life. Activities help students to be better groomed, discover their hidden potential, and equip themselves to face the currents outside the world of academics.”
7. If possible, visit your top 3 colleges
A campus visit is a sort of reality check to see if the college actually is your kind of place. You could verify the information you’ve gathered, besides checking the lecture rooms, library, labs, recreational facilities, and yes, the cafeteria. You could even talk to a few students on campus and get valuable feedback.
Madhura Phadnis who recently completed her BFA degree from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune, says, “For the BFA course, the drawing hall, computer lab and an appropriate atmosphere for promoting one’s creativity have a special signifi cance. A campus visit helped me verify these crucial factors.”
It is certain, especially when parents are spending huge sums of money on graduate education, that students need do their homework before jumping to any decisions.
Finding a college that’s a good fit requires suffi cient time and careful research. So start early; don’t wait till the eleventh hour. Make the right choice, and then, when it’s time to make the transition to college, you can look forward to some of the best years of your life.
A campus visit is a sort of reality check to see if the college actually is your kind of place. You could verify the information you’ve gathered, besides checking the lecture rooms, library, labs, recreational facilities, and yes, the cafeteria
-By Veena Gomes-Patwardhan
Volumn 1 Issue 2