Choosing the Right School for You

Every year, the US News and World Report releases a list of the top colleges and universities around the world. Each time the report comes out, it comes as no surprise that the same groups of colleges and universities make it to the top of the list. Schools like Harvard University and Oxford College are world renowned, and have become even more popular since the release of the US News rankings. But why is that? And does this ranking tell us which schools are the best for you? At the end of the day, choosing the best school for you might not mean choosing the “highest” ranked school, or the school that other people want you to attend. Deciding where you want to spend 4 or more years of your life is a big deal, and only you know best! In this article, we walk you through some tips to consider as you begin the process of selecting schools to apply to and attend. 

Rankings Aren’t Everything

Checking out the rankings of colleges and universities can be helpful to get a sense of the different options out there, but the rankings should not play a big role—if any!—in your decision making. The US News and World Report list uses an algorithm that takes into consideration a number of factors, with the most important being the following three: graduation rate, peer assessment and financial resources. If you want to go to college, you will definitely be looking at schools that have a high graduation rate, as this means they are supporting their students and students want to continue to go back. Similarly with financial resources, you want to look at schools with reasonable endowments as it means there will be more resources and programming on campus. The peer assessment criterion is the more ambiguous part of the ranking system. The peer assessment factor is based on the results of surveys in which professors at different schools share their opinions about the performance of other schools. While this can shed some light onto the common beliefs and perceptions held by people in the world of academia, the only opinion that should really matter is your own! 

Best School is about Best Fit 

It can be really hard not to be influenced by the opinions of others. If you are in your last few years of high school, you might already have people in your life asking you about your plan for after graduation. If that is the case, don’t panic! It is completely fine if you do not want to share your plan with someone, or if you don’t have an answer yet. Adults often like to ask young people about their plans as a way of connecting, or offering advice. Hearing the experiences of others can be really helpful at times, and other times it might not feel productive if strangers try to tell you which schools are best for you. So take some time to consider what elements of a school are most appealing to you. Because the reality is that universities and colleges are evolving and changing often, and so are you! 

Key Considerations

As you start to look into the thousands of colleges and universities, here is a list of the top 10 questions to ask yourself. 

  1. Do you want to live in a city, suburb, or rural area?
  2. Do you learn better in lectures or small personalized classes?
  3. Do you want to go somewhere close to your family? 
  4. Do you need to look at schools that offer financial aid? 
  5. Do you want to attend college in a new country?
  6. What are some of the subjects that interest you most?
  7. Do you want to have lots of opportunities for research? 
  8. What sort of social structure makes you feel the most welcome (are you interested in US colleges with Greek life? Do you want a school with lots of clubs?)
  9. Do you want to live on campus in a dorm?
  10. What resources do I need to learn best and be healthy (access to on-campus mental health counseling, access to a gym, wheelchair accessible buildings?)

The Right Place at theRight Time

Even before you know the answer to all of those questions above, there is one final question that you’ll want to make sure you ask yourself: Are you ready to go? You—whoever you are!—are smart, interesting, and capable of doing challenging things like attending college. But sometimes students who could attend college right after high school choose to take time off before applying. There is a growing world of alternative programs and gap-year adventures that you might want to consider if you don’t quite feel ready to commit to a 4-year institution. While it is common for students to attend college at some point in their life, it is becoming more and more popular for people to take time off before college. This is especially true in different countries around the world, where many people choose to work to save money before going to earn a degree. If you do not feel ready to go to college right after high school, don’t let the pressure of your peers sway you. Part of your college journey can be talking with your family to discuss the best time to begin university for your financial, emotional, and social wellbeing. 
Aegis Advisors has a team of experienced and committed admissions consultants for US & UK boarding schools and universities, as well as international schools in Hong Kong. Contact us today to learn how we can support you.