How to choose the right college

Students studying at college
Photo: © Diego Cervo / 123RF Stock Photo

President Barack Obama had this to say about the advice he gave to his daughter: “One piece of advice that I’ve given her is not to stress too much about having to get into one particular college, just because it’s not some name-brand, famous, fancy school doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a great education there.”

Why do students pick certain colleges? We’ve heard every reason imaginable! For example, we know of students who apply to a certain college in Mumbai because there are a lot of film shoots and they hope to bump into an actor or two.  Other students like the canteen facilities!

Depending on your personal priorities, these may or may not be good reasons to pick a college. And it’s important to remember that what makes one school a student’s dream college may make it a nightmare choice for you. Nevertheless, there are some common steps that we believe all students need to take that will help them in choosing the right college.

The choice of university determines your path to the right job, right career, right environment, even the right partner, which is why you need to spend time weighing possibilities and seeing where you fit best.

When does the planning begin?

Imagine what career you see yourself pursuing and then work backwards. Higher secondary school or Std VIII is the ideal time. Which subject will help you get there and what college to study it in are the next steps.

The next step is to do research and shortlist a few institutes that will help you launch yourself in a career that is suited to both your passion and aptitude. Once you have done that you can identify what you need to do to qualify.

So what else do you need to check while choosing your college?

Check out the faculty and if possible meet with them. Talk to the Head of the department which you plan to study with and see if they can connect you with other professors who can tell you more about the programme. With the internet it is not as difficult or daunting as it used to be in the past.

Consult and discuss your options with friends and family. It is a great idea to connect with professionals from the field you wish to enter. Try to get advice from those who do not have a bias and are able to give you advice objectively.

Remember to take the advice of college career counsellors with a grain of salt. The admissions office is their sales office as they are employed by the college.

Take note but don’t assume that they will give you the answers. Remember, you are just getting started. Asking the people you know for recommendations is a good way to generate a preliminary list of schools. As you research these schools, you’ll begin to discover what is important to you. It may turn out that these initial recommendations were spot on or totally off.

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Margaret da Costa
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Margaret da Costa

Margaret da Costa has a Masters in Human Resources and is Director - Top Talent with Candor Management Services. She is also Course Director at St Pauls Institute of Communication Education for their post-graduate course in Advertising & IMC.