Applying to college is a huge undertaking from filling out application after application to writing statements to obtaining recommendation letters to taking standardized tests and on and on. But even before you reach this stage, narrowing down the long list of colleges is an even bigger task. Out of 2000+ 4-year American universities, where do you start?Usually with Criteria. We all have a list of criteria in narrowing down our schools. Typically, the words “top”, “best”, “prestigious” are part of this criteria. Maybe “top 20 American universities” or American universities in the largest 10 cities. However you decide on the 20 universities you’re applying to, have you thought about whether it’s a fool-proof method? Have you considered the faults in your plan? Here are some to think of:
- Considering rank only. We have found this to be the biggest mistake made by applicants. Everyone everywhere cares only about the numerical classifications. The media constantly sends us these messages, that you are a failure if you didn’t graduate from the best of the best. Don’t succumb to the negativity!Another reason that this is the only criteria is because it’s easy to find university rankings. U.S. News produces rankings every year from the best American universities to public American universities to private universities to liberal arts to engineering and so on. But then you ask, “These rankings are the result of strict criteria guidelines by a third party. Why not follow them?”That’s not what we mean. This should be one of the many criteria in deciding where to apply. But it’s not always in your best interest to be studying at the top university for a variety of reasons that we’ll discuss below.
- Not understanding yourself. Humans are very complex beings, as you may already know. We say one thing, then do the exact opposite the very next moment. It could take decades to gain better insights into your likes and dislikes. The sooner you understand yourself, the happier you’ll be in your choices. The same goes for selecting your career and the university. Our method will force you to think about yourself before selecting the universities you will apply to.
- Unsure of the degree to pursue. We have seen many students, time and again, switch majors every few semesters. They think they like one degree, they take a few classes, they find it challenging and move to the next degree. Avoid wasting time later by brainstorming with PPC NOW! Sign up for a free consultation before it’s too late!
- Wrong geography/target job market. Short sighted thinking usually leaves this criteria out. Attending the best university doesn’t guarantee the job or career you’re looking for because maybe the job is prevalent across the continent, where the university is not as highly regarded. Also, typically you’ll end up settling in the same geographical region where you attended your university so varied geographical preferences should be taken into account when considering universities.
- Applying to colleges your best friend is applying to. Your goal should be to find the best and right college for YOU, not your best friend. No matter how close you are to your friend, you guys will likely have differing educational goals and ambitions. The college you select may not be the best for your major/course of study but will be the best for your friends. Also, finding friends in your eventual college should be the least of your worries; there are hundreds of students that come from your part of the world.
- Misjudge your ability to gain admission to a prestigious university. Most colleges are looking for the same thing: students with strong academic backgrounds. However, just because Mr. Singh, your math teacher, thinks of you as a naughty kid and constantly complains that you won’t get into the top universities, it doesn’t mean you should get discouraged from applying. There are many colleges that are highly selective in their process, beware of them. But don’t be intimidated by them.