Selecting a University
Choosing the right college is complicated. It is important to consider your educational goals carefully. Scan college guidebooks, internet sites, and admissions procedures, to assist you in the difficult choice ahead of you.
Consider the following points in selecting a university:
Have you checked the accreditation of the institution? Make sure that the institution is regionally accredited and if relevant, professionally accredited in your field. Accreditation is an important assurance that the education offered at a college or university meets established standards. Students can check on a school’s accreditation by consulting CHEA website or contacting EducationUSA-MACEE.
The school’s location can be a critical factor in one’s academic success. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you want a university/college that is located on a coast near the ocean? Do you like to ski and would you like to attend school in or near the mountains? Do you prefer a warm or cold climate? Do you have a preference for rural location over a suburban or metropolitan one? Do you want a university that has a large campus?
Would you study more effectively in a large institution with over 30,000 students, or do you need a smaller school with under 10,000 students? What size class do you prefer: small, interactive classes with a lot of individual attention from faculty or large, more impersonal auditorium?style classes? You should inquire about the average class size. Does the school offer any unique classes that sound fascinating and challenging to you? Check out the catalogs. You should also think about the size of the international student population at the institutions.
Find out about the ratio of students to faculty. Ask who teaches freshman (first year) courses. Are they taught by full time faculty, or by graduate assistants? Also locate information on the number of faculty with Ph.D. degrees, the number of full time and part?time faculty and the number of graduate and undergraduate students. Find out if emphasis is on teaching or research. Ask about faculty advising and after?class availability of professors. Are there any international faculty members or do many have teaching experience abroad? Also find out if there are special faculty advisers assigned to advise international students.
- Academic Program
Compare this information with all of the schools you are considering for application. It is important that you know the academic standards of each school. Find out how much time is spent on homework, what courses are needed for graduation and the number of credits required to graduate. Examine core courses, integrated studies programs, majors, language requirements, honor courses, double major opportunities, internships and combined degree programs. What are the school’s strongest majors? Weakest?
Look at the percentage of international students at the institution of your interest. Does the school have a large international population or is it very small. Do you prefer a large number of students from your country or simply a diverse community of students? Are a wide range of sports and social activities important?
- International Student Services
- What kind of communication does the institution have with you?
- Is the International Student Office emailing you with information on how to get to the school
- Will you attend an orientation program offered by MACEE, or by your local college?
- Is there a separate orientation program for international students at the university?
- Are international students assigned a special faculty adviser?
- What of contact is there between the international student and the international student adviser, the dean of students, the registrar and the financial aid officer?
- How involved are school personnel in the academic and administrative life of an international student?
Find out if the school has on campus/off campus dormitories. Are international students housed with other international students and American students? Are there dorms for freshmen only? Inquire if many upper class level students (second & third year) remain in the dorms. Do co?ed or special interest (sports, area of study) dorms exist? What are the procedures if you need to change your assigned roommate?
- Social, Cultural, Intercultural Environment
Does the university offer intercultural activities for its international student population? If so, what kinds of events are routinely sponsored? Also how much interaction will you have with American students? A healthy mix of international and American activities is what you should look for.
This is public information and must be available to all enrolled and prospective students and their families. Compare the campus crime record at all schools that you are considering. Ask to receive a copy of the university’s crime brochure, which should outline safety tips and procedures. Also find out what kind of protective services are available. Colleges know that it is in their best interest to offer the safest and securest environment possible!
- Financial Aid Programs
It is important to know your school policy should you be meet with unexpected problem in meeting tuition payments. Is there a contingency financing plan or are you sent home? A university with a strong commitment to international students should have some procedures for meeting the financial needs of international students with unforeseen financial problems. You should also find out if take the average international student to graduate?
- Retention program
Do most of the international students graduate in four years? What kinds of services are available to international students in academic difficulty? Is there a strong support network for international students?
Alumni can assist you to evaluate a university. Ask the international student officer to supply you with the names of some alumni who have returned home. What do the alumni like and dislike about the school. Ask them if they would select the school if they had to choose again.