If you’re struggling to determine how to choose a university, and you’ve already read our list of factors to consider when selecting a school, here are some of the best ways to narrow down your application list.
Student Information Sessions
This time of year, university representatives traditionally would be on the road to connect with prospective students on their own school campuses or at university fairs. Given the current global situation, many schools are instead offering online information sessions in the form of webinars, or are available at virtual university fairs. Check with your school to see if they are hosting any specific events, otherwise, check the university’s website to see what information sessions they offer to prospective students.
Current Students & Alumni
Students currently attending the post-secondary school or recent alumni are one of your best sources of information. Talk with former and current students (and even faculty, if possible) about their experiences – what they enjoyed and what they think could be improved. Try and think of a few specific questions you can ask, so you can compare answers to similar questions across schools.
In addition to student information sessions and open houses moving online, many schools now offer virtual tours of their campuses. Take a stroll through classrooms, student housing, and on-campus amenities and try to get a sense of how you’d feel on the campus from day to day. If you live close to a school on your list, and it’s safe to do so, see if you can schedule a tour, or do a self-guided tour. While it may not be realistic to visit multiple campuses, visiting one campus in person can give you an idea of which areas to check out as you explore other schools virtually.
While you’re much more likely to read recommendations about curbing your time on social media, this is one case where we’d encourage you to spend a bit of time on social channels. A school’s Instagram account or Facebook page can offer a more realistic look at the campus and day-to-day student life. Google the school and see what other results show up beyond the school’s official website and communication channels. Browsing student blogs or reading recent news articles can give you additional insight into the school.
The school’s official website is ultimately the best place to review information about admission requirements, programs, course content, and student services. University websites can often provide an overwhelming amount of information, so try to focus on finding a page dedicated to the admissions department or faculty to which you’re intending to apply. Comparing the course outline of a class at one university versus another can be an important tipping factor.
Friends, Family & Teachers
After researching and gathering all of the above information about a school, it might be hard to know how to analyze it all into something useful! That’s where talking with family members, friends, and teachers and school counsellors can be a helpful next step. They know you best and can help you discuss what you’ve learned, determine how to factor it into your decision-making and be a grounding source if you start to feel overwhelmed.
Not sure how to keep track of all the information you’re collecting? We suggest keeping a spreadsheet that you can refer back to throughout the research and application process. If you’re looking for additional support, our educational consultants are available to help you create a plan and timeline tailored to your specific goals. Contact us to schedule a session.