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September 2, 2010

Not all About Prestige: Other Factors to Consider When Applying to University

Not all About Prestige: Other Factors to Consider When Applying to University

All over the world, but in the United States especially, there is a particular attitude of fetishization when it comes to applying to and attending university. This attitude has enabled the ever-popular "college rankings lists" to proliferate, the U.S News and World Report ranking being the most widely known.

Still, it would behoove many students, especially foreign students wanting to study in the United States, to look at universities that aren't as saddled with "prestige". International students tend to be more swayed by the idea of going to universities that are well-known like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, simply because other universities aren't as widely advertised abroad as they are domestically. While there is no denying that diplomas from prestigious universities will certainly carry some weight when it comes to getting better jobs once you graduate, the added favor given to graduates from these schools is not as big as you'd think.

In the end, what matters is what you personally put into your studies. You can skate by through Harvard having learned nothing, while you can establish a name for yourself and learn much from classes, professors, and peers at a run-of-the-mill public state university. Here are a few other factors you may want to consider when selecting universities to which you would like to apply.

1. Cost.

Since university is an investment in your future, just like any other investment, you want to make sure that you are getting the most for the best deal. Look at total price, too, including not just tuition but also other costs like personal expenditures, textbooks, etc.

2. Location

Location is something that many university applicants take for granted. But the fact of the matter is that you cannot study hard and well if you aren't happy with your surroundings. Think about local climate, cost of living, and population size when determining which location would be best for you.

3. Specific departments and programs

While the prestigious universities that you may be interested in may be high up on rankings lists, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are the best at your specific course of study. Look at university department websites and see what exactly they have to offer. Do the courses interest you? What about the research that specific professors in the department are currently undertaking? These are the sorts of questions you may want to ask yourself before applying to any university.

While top universities surely do have their advantages--for example, many of the top ten schools have more money and thus better research facilities or quality of student life,--you may want to take a look at these other factors before making your final applicant list. Attending university is a big decision, and we should all be as informed as possible about how we make the decision.

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This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: olivia.coleman33 @gmail.com

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