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How to Choose the Right Education Institution
Abraham Lincoln said that “Upon the subject of education ... I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in”. Getting an education is not only an essential qualification to get your dream job, but it is a necessity to keep the society and economy evolving. Therefore, you should carefully do your due diligence when choosing an education institution.
Types of Higher Education Institutions
Higher education institutions in the U.S can be categorized as follows:
Public universities and colleges. These are government run and offer a wide range of courses in the various fields. They are generally cheaper than their private counterparts. Each state has at least one state university and several state colleges.
Private universities and colleges. They are privately owned and rely solely on student fees to meet their operational costs. As a result, they are more expensive than public institutions of higher learning. However, students can access government funds in the form of student loans, favorable tax considerations, and grants to help them meet their fees requirement.
Community colleges. Also known as junior colleges, they offer associate degrees as well as other certificate and diploma courses on a wide range of subjects that last two years. After completing an associate degree, graduates can transfer their credits to a university to go on and to complete a bachelor’s degree or to enter the job market.
Vocational/trade school. These offer job-specific training at diploma and certificate level that take one year and a half and one year respectively.
Arts and design schools primarily offer arts programs such as graphic design, painting, and drawing.
Institutes of technology provide intensive training in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Liberal arts colleges cater to the fields of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Most liberal arts schools require students to study a broad range of subjects in the first two years before you can pick an area of specialization in the final two years.
Ivy legeau schools. They are the eight universities in the USA that offer bachelor’s course in liberal arts. The eight universities are Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Brown and Dartmouth.
Online colleges and universities offer distant learning via the internet. Online learning provide students flexibility in their schedule and require a high level of commitment and organization for one to perform well.
Tips for Choosing the Best High School
Getting the right high school education is an important milestone for your college or university education. When selecting a high school, consider the following:
- Cost. Private high schools charge tuition fees while public high schools are free. However, if you choose a public school factor in hidden costs charged for extracurricular activities, school supplies, transport, and special occasions.
- Sensitivity to cultural issues. In the globalized world we live in, it is important to develop a respectful attitude towards the different cultures. Go to a school that teaches various historical and cultural issues.
- The range of extra-curriculum activities. Aside from the regular education curriculum, find out whether the school offers extra-curriculum programs and activities that are in line with your interest. For instance, if you are interested in theatre, is there a theatre club or a co-curriculum drama classes?
- The school’s reputation. Check online high school reviews to get a sense of some of the best high schools in the area you are considering and the school’s reputation.
- Size of the school. Smaller schools offer more attention to each student while large schools provide more opportunities for relationship building.
- College enrollment rate. High school education serves as a stepping stone to higher education. Statistics on a school’s college enrollment rate can give you an idea of its ability to adequately prepare you for college or university.
- Teaching approach. When prospecting a school, take a tour around and check to see the nature of student-teacher interactions. Do the teachers interact with the students outside of class? Observe students’ mood and behavior around their teachers.
- Consider online high schools. You can exclusively pursue your high school education via online high schools or combine some online high school programs with the traditional high school curriculum. Online high schools offer a more flexible curriculum to suit the student’s interests, learning pace and prepare you for college. Check out reviews of online high schools to help you find a suitable one for you.
10 Factors to Consider when Choosing a University or College
- Whether the institution is private or public. Public education institutions enjoy government funding. Therefore fees are generally lower in comparison to private facilities that fully rely on student fees to meet their operational costs.
- Alumni satisfaction. What do students who have previously passed through the institution say about it? College and university reviews by the specific institution’s alumni can give you a sense of their satisfaction.
- Facilities available. The best colleges provide crucial academic facilities such as library, student study space, and field-specific facilities such as a moot court for law students. If you will be boarding on campus, pay keen attention to student residence and dining facilities on and near the campus.
- Cost. When factoring in costs, besides the tuition fees, consider how much you will spend in transport from your hometown to the university, accommodation, transport around the city, meals, stationery, and other miscellaneous expenses. Also, see what kind of financial aid and scholarships you can be able to access within the university or from the government.
- Location. Think whether you want to go to a college that is near your home or this is finally a chance for you to explore a new city or state.
- Your area of study. Different types of colleges offer different types of courses. To determine the best college for you, establish your area of interest and possible courses that you could undertake then identify institutions that offer that course.
- Your level of education. If you are looking to do a certificate or diploma course, vocational colleges and community colleges are most suitable while universities provide graduate and post-graduate level education.
- Graduation rates and graduate employment rates. Although the primary contributor to successfully completing your college education is your effort; graduation rates and graduate employability can be a sign of how well the college does in creating a good environment for you to succeed. Some employers provide college reviews on the employability of their graduates.
- Size of the college. Smaller colleges offer personalized attention to students. However, they may have fewer facilities. When taking a short course such as driving, opt for a smaller college.
- Curriculum design. Are you required to take several general courses in your first years in college before you can delve into the specific course? Does the college or university integrate vocational training and offer work experience opportunities to prepare you for the job market?
A Step-by-Step Guide to Choose a College or University that Is Right for You
To make the selection process of the higher education institution easier, you just need to keep in mind 5 important steps:
Determine the subject you would like to study and the type of courses in that area
For instance, you may be interested in the health care industry. Under it, there are various areas of study including pharmacy, surgery, nursing, public health, pediatrics, and many more. If you are unsure you could start with a general course in that area and specialize as you rise through the various levels of education. Consult with a career counselor, your previous high school teachers, and your family and friends to help you choose a course.
Do a college research
Bearing in mind the aforementioned factors to consider when choosing a college or university, come up with a list of what the right college or university would look like for you. Where would it be located? What amenities would it have? How big would it be? How much would it cost?
Embark on research to find a college that meets your specifications and provides the course you are considering. There are numerous resources you can use for your college research including college search tools and websites, student reviews and testimonial websites, specific college and university websites or social media pages, or asking around in your social circles.
College and university reviews will also give you a sense of the university’s or college’s reputation among its alumni, students, and the general public.
Attend a few college fairs and do campus visits
As part of your research, it would be helpful to attend a few higher education fairs and institution-specific open days to help you in choosing a university or college. During campus open days, the institution’s representatives take you through their application and admission processes, facilities and courses offered.
During the visit, you can attend one of the classes that interests you, eat at the dining facility, have a look at the bulletin board and talk to some students on campus. Visit various departments in the college to help you gain a clear understanding of the course offered. Both visits and fairs give you the actual feel of the institution and that you can use to compare colleges on the basis of first-hand information.
Make a short list and compare colleges
From your research, come up with a list of up to ten colleges and universities. Compare the colleges against your specifications, reviews, and ranking. Come up with a list of pros and cons for each college and use them to weigh what your best options are. If any questions arise in the course of your search, contact the specific college for clarification. Consider the admissions requirements for each institution and whether you meet them.
Narrow down to 3-5 institutions and apply
Basing on the outcome of your comparison and findings from the various college reviews, narrow down to 3-5 colleges and apply. Reach out to the specific colleges or universities for guidance on the actual application process.
Higher education is one of the most valuable investments you will make on your time and money. It gives you a good foundation to thrive in the world. To increase your chances of finding the best college or university for you, come up with an outline of your needs and budget and use it as the benchmark when analyzing university and college reviews.