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How to Choose the Right University for Your Career Field & Not Be Wait-Listed

Written by K Fisher on December 17, 2021

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What does it take to create the best college application to be accepted and not wait-listed? Choosing the right university takes a lot of research and insight based on what is right for the student. Students should reach out to high school advisors or admissions to discuss so routes to obtain a certain degree. For example, is a student intends on being a marine biologist, they will need to take required AP classes in high school such as chemistry and biology.

Look Into All Community Colleges

Community colleges actually have incredible 2-year programs that eventually allow a student to transfer to a 4-year university. At times this means a student attending a community college could very well within 2-year times transfer to an ivy league education.

First off, community college is a lot more budget friendly that strictly setting sights on a 4-year university.  When it comes to worrying about how a student may pay back student loans and general cost to cover living expenses, this is where community college can benefit. Community colleges allows students to save a bit of money without really needing to take a student loan out unless otherwise.

However, let’s dig into what a community college is… community colleges are mostly two-year, public institutions that provide entry level post-secondary education.In the U.S., community colleges offer a range of degree programs and grant professional certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees. They differ from four-year colleges in that an associate’s degree is the highest degree possible to earn—community colleges don’t hand out bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, or Ph.Ds. This is where 4-year universities would come in.

The idea for community colleges comes from the fact that state schools tend to be courteously expensive when it comes to wanting a higher education. And community colleges are that sweet in-between where a student can go to school for 2-years and receive an associate’s degree. Then they can transfer to a 4-year institution if they would like to.

Also, community colleges are a great choice for students who want to go to college but don’t want to spend 4-years studying.

The Steps to Take While Looking at Universities

If, as a student, you have chosen to opt out of community college and wish to attend only a university. These are the steps to take to secure the right university fit for the major you intend on pursuing.

Research What Courses Are Available

While students tend to be overcome with happiness by being accepted to a university, firs they should check out the courses available. Because if a student is accepted to a university but the courses available do not met their initial major needs… then why pick that university.

In this initial research, keep a google spreadsheet listing the required classes you would need to take in the first-year and how those required classes can lead to the degree in mind. However, if the student is unsure of the degree they intend to pursue, choose something that is generally enjoyable and go from there.

University Reputation

All universities are known for something. That’s the fact of the matter, but what is the university’s faculty, student body demographic, or course structure reputation like? Here is a list of universities with the best overall reputations:

  • Standford University
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • University of Chicago
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Michigan
  • Columbia University
  • University of Oxford
  • Dartmouth College
  • King’s College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • National University of Singapore
  • University of Central Florida
  • Tuffs University
  • Georgetown University

This list includes top ivy league institutions and it goes to show that the better the university or more prestigious the better the reputation. However, let’s look at community colleges that has excellent reputations:

  • Saddleback College
  • State Technical College of Missouri
  • College of San Mateo
  • Butte College
  • Santa Fe Community College
  • Arkansas State University-Mountain Home
  • Kauai Community College
  • Ohlone College
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
  • Los Angeles Pierce College
  • Kapiolani Community College
  • De Anza College
  • Los Angeles Harbor College
  • Alexandria Technical & Community College
  • College of Southern Maryland
  • Irvine Valley College
  • Los Angeles Mission College
  • Northern Wyoming Community College District
  • Evergreen Valley College
  • Northwestern Connecticut Community College

When students are able to see a side-by-side comparison list that community and 4-year universities both have great reputations, it just depends on the research that is found. This comparison can help students to identify which school will be a better fit for their needs and what they hope to accomplish in their first-year.

 

Be True, and Ask Yourself How Far Do You Want to Move Away from Home

One deciding factor that doesn’t kick in until the student has moved to their new dorm, is how far away does a student want to live from their family? While it’s all exciting and fun when a student is accepted into a university or community college, the one thing that lacks is the understanding that this student now has to enter the world as an adult, right as they step out onto that campus. Some students find it too difficult to live so far away from their family and opt for a college that is closer but still meets their study field needs. Be sure to check and see if living close or far works for you.

What Higher Education Would Look Great on Your Resume?

Now instead of being stuck in the moment, think about the future and what future employers would like to see on a resume or CV. What courses that are provided by the college of your choice? What about what schools just naturally standout and receive automatic consideration? These are questions to ask yourself as you research higher education institutions.

Depending on exactly where a student studies can be just as important as what they major in; it is an ongoing debate within human resources and recruitment circles how much stock can be placed in a candidate’s alma mater.

Always Go Visit the Campus on Opening Day

Campus is known for allowing potential students to visit the campus (only on weekends) to gain insight into just how large the square area is and what is surrounding the campus (book shops, cafes, and coffee shops). This allows the student to temporarily place themselves in the setting and see the reaction they give.

When students can see for themselves what a college campus looks like, and let alone if they will be able to find the classrooms… this can help in the decision-making process.

What About Fianacial Stability?

First-year students who come from a low-income household tend to know how to budget. However, a student that may not have had to ever worry about cost, will end up learning the hard way.  That’s why “personal finance” courses are available to first year students as a type of “free elective” so students can start to understand exactly where all of their school budget is going and why.

From scholarships, grants, to loans… all individuals need to look though what their budget will allow and what simply needs more funding.

University Culture and Diversity

Many universities have their own unique culture or identity, usually rooted in their founding. For instance, particularly in the US, there are schools that are single sex or faith-based. If you are Catholic, for example, then you may want to study at a Catholic university, and so on.

Sometimes the culture can be more implied. In the UK, some universities have a reputation solely for nightlife; others – like Oxford and Cambridge – are renowned for being more traditional and conservative. Whether your happy place is in a 14th Century courtyard discussing Charles Baudelaire in Latin or at Wetherspoons inhaling tequilas in a toga, you need to decide which kind of school will be the perfect fit for you.

The right fit is all about what works with the individual and what their beliefs are as well. The amount of times student has chosen a university because it offers services that resemble their own, are happier than those that ignore their own needs.

List Out Priorities

Listing out priorities means a lot of students in the long run. For reasons unknown “listing out priorities” tends to be the last thing individuals figure out. However, if someone starts with that list, they can narrow down what colleges will not be a great fit for them. Allowing the other colleges to be researched further and possibly available to visit the campus.

Does The University Choice Have Job Connections

Why this question is not higher on the list of “needs” is unknown. Job connections through a university is one of the best ways to launch a recent graduate or even an undergraduate towards their ultimate career path. The universities that have connections can typically allow graduates to start working in their field study within the first 6 months to a year.

 

What Teacher or Peer Support Is Available

Now this inquiry is one of the top two questions asked while looking and researching for colleges. Teacher support is huge especially with today’s learning disabilities that are more prominent and known about. Which always everyone to attend college without too much worry if there is either a peer-to-peer support group along with supportive teachers.

If a university is known for their encouraged teacher support, students have more of a probability to have less stress and less worry when it comes to assignments, projects, and exams.

 

Available Scholarship from the University

Scholarships come from universities as well, not just private foundations. Universities hand out scholarships each school semester to individuals who fit the criteria available on the guidelines that are issued out on the college website. Also, calling that colleges admissions office can point students to the exact scholarships available that may work for them. Be sure to put the scholarships that actually fit with your demographic, academic, leadership skills, and other skills that the college website guidelines mention. Otherwise, if a student applies for scholarships where they fit none of the required attributes, they most likely will not be awarded that scholarship.

 What About High-Quality Teaching?

Yes! High quality teaching has come onto the radar since 2019 because of online college courses. It was discovered that students need high quality teaching to ensure they are learning courses correctly. Instead of a student being on their own a struggling to understand an assignment or coursework, high quality teachers stepped up to provide one on one tutoring.

Which brings us to asking about available tutors on campus. Asking about who is a tutor or who is the best tutor to recommend can help many students to succeed towards their higher education goals.

How to Avoid Being Wait-listed

First off, research which universities receive the most application admissions to the point that wait-listing is normal for that institution. Some colleges have wait-listed students for two years because the supply and demand are so much that they have to push students to do elsewhere.

No one wants to be wait-listed and the sure-fire way to not be, is researching those colleges who practice it each year. The second option is to create such an extraordinary application that the student fits all of the fields that college is looking for in their students. All students should research the mission and statements of each higher education institution they want to apply too. Reading their mission statements give a great idea for who they are looking for when they are going through applications for admissions. Create a checklist to make sure you either notify or discuss what is on their mission statements. Typically, universities want first-year students to show off school pride or school intelligence that signifies the institution.

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