Now that it's April, many university and business school applicants are receiving acceptances, hopefully from multiple programs. You've read our post on How NOT to pick a university so you should have been accepted to universities you'd love to go to and that all seem great.
The problem of “Which school will accept me?” has turned into “Which school will I accept?” While this is a nice problem to have, it is still a confusing situation. You don't want to make a mistake, waste money, or spend the next several years unhappy. Here's our advice for choosing which university to accept:
1. Reflect on what drew you to the university in the first place. Interested in learning from a particular professor? Excited by the co-op or study abroad programs? Drawn to particular student organizations? These opportunities can separate one program from another. If some aspect of the university is important to you, go for it!
2. Read the rankings. Although we don't 100% agree that you should select the highest ranking school, how well a university is regarded can help you choose between multiple offers. If you're a high school student that has been accepted to universities in the United States, check out the US News Best Colleges National University Rankings. For Canada, see our of our post on 10 Top Canadian universities. MBA hopefuls should review the US News Best Business School Rankings for US programs and the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings for international programs.
3. Think about where you'd want to live for 2 to 4 years. Hate cold weather? Forget about University of Michigan or Boston University. Need a place for your family to get to quickly? Forget about University of Wisconsin or University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Think about the characteristics of a place that might make you happy, including the ability to practice any hobbies you're serious about, and choose your university based on where you think is the most livable.
4. Ask around. If your plan is to return to Dubai, the UAE, or your home country to start (or continue) your career, ask adults (teachers, coaches, bosses, etc.) which universities they have heard of. The reality is that many companies hire employees that have attended universities that a) people have heard of and b) are known to be in the West. Employers aren't going to review the US News Rankings; they assume that if they've heard of it, the university must be good.
5. Talk to students. Email and social media make it really easy to get the opinions of people who know a university best: the students. Email the admissions officer from a university you're considering for names or find the head of a campus organization by browsing the university's website. Be sure to be polite. Here's a sample email you can cut and paste:
It should be easier to choose which university acceptance to accept once you consider things you like, rankings, livability, and what employers and students think about the university.
Are there any other aspects you think should be considered when accepting a university? Let us know in the comments!