Since application season is in full swing, we've been meeting with many students around Dubai interested in studying overseas. Some have come with a pre-made university short list of schools recommended by friends and family or directly from the U.S. News Top 10 list. Although other people are good and rankings are good starting points for university selection, don't decide your list solely on the recommendations of others. To prevent you from selecting universities that aren't a good fit for you, we've compiled a list of 5 ways NOT to pick a school. Avoid these pitfalls and you're more likely to attend a university you'll love.
1. Don't pick universities based on rankings only. University rankings from U.S. News and Financial Times are good starting points to learn about more universities than you've heard of. However, there are more than 3,400 universities and colleges in the U.S. alone and the rankings may only identify 10% of them. Some students argue they are only interested in "top schools," but just because a university is ranked doesn't mean it's the best for your major. Major specific rankings, research on the university's website, information sessions or web chats, and a college visit will tell you more than any ranking can.
2. Don't pick universities based on word of mouth. Support from friends, family, and teachers is important throughout the college or MBA application process, but that doesn't mean you have to put all of their recommendations on your short list. Research the university for yourself. Visit the university website and make sure it has the major, extracurricular activities, and environment you are interested in. Check out student photos of the college campus on Flickr to get a real idea of the campus setting. Above all, know yourself. Prefer a small town to the big city? Hate cold weather? Want to study game design in its creative hub? Then, only put universities on your list that fit these requirements. Remember, you'll live there for several years.
3. Don't pick universities based on where your parents or siblings went. It's great if your family went to a particular university or region to study. That doesn't mean it's the best fir for you as well. Universities change and evolve, guaranteeing that you won't have the exact same experience that your parents had. Besides, "legacies," or students whose parents attended the same university, can be unfairly scrutinized during the application review process. Unless your doing more and scoring higher than your parents did, you may want to add a few other schools to your short list. (Note: Acceptance rates for legacy students are typically twice as high as for regular students. However, this statistic doesn't guarantee your admission.)
4. Don't pick universities based on one information session. Colleges and universities pay lots of money to send representatives to the Middle East to interact with you or, worse, to get educational consultancies to recruit you. (Note: APPLY ME is not a recruiter. We work for you, not universities). Although some great universities have ties to the Middle East, many more not-so-good universities have affiliations in the Middle East. If you're going to pay US $20,000+ for your education, make sure you attend a reputable, accredited university. Attend information sessions only after you have researched universities and decided they belong on your short list. You can confirm information you read on the website or heard from other students during the info session and get some face time in front of recruiters so they can tell admissions departments about your interest and enthusiasm.
5. Don't pick universities based on meeting one person you liked. Met a guy who was cool during a campus visit? Exchanged emails with your friend's friend on Facebook and they went to a particular university? Met your dad's friend who is really successful and went to a certain college? Cool. Great. Awesome. None of this means you should apply to the same universities these people went to. Universities do have the power to help you be successful or shape your personality, but these characteristics are still unique to the individual. Instead of assuming the university was the secret to their success and coolness, ask these people questions about their time at university, what they learned, and why you should attend.
Don't make these mistakes and you should be just fine!
Need help deciding where to apply for university? Call us at 04 311 6830, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click the Free Consultation link in the corner of this page to talk to us about how we can help you decide.