You always dreamt of making it to the top US universities and lady luck has been smiling upon you. You have received not just one, not even two but three admits from top colleges in the US and but you are still at crossroads? Admits from coveted universities is tough to come by but equally tough is to make up your mind regarding which one to select. While you might be tempted to follow your guts and flip a coin to make a choice, you need to deliberate a lot before you take the final plunge.
The choice has to be right mix of comfort as well as something that requires you to walk some extra miles to prove your mettle. Not only do you need to be a good fit for the college, but also the college in turn also needs to be a good fit for you. Moreover, you need to resist the temptation of giving into peer and parental pressure as far as deciding which university to attend. These factors may come to your rescue (in order of significance):
1. Return on Investment
While factors such as tuition fees, location and financial aid may be important criteria for deciding on your admission, you must always have a long term perspective in terms of return on investment. The ROI principle is a simple calculation, as follows:
ROI = Probability of securing a job after graduation * expected salary /Total cost of education including tuition, living expenses, etc.
Your goal is to maximize ROI. In some cases, you may decide to go to a more expensive school because the numerator (i.e., probability of securing a job after graduate * expected salary) is much higher.
Generally speaking, there is a high level of positive correlation between reputation of a university and employment opportunities. Make sure you do a thorough check on the placement report of last two years of the university you are joining. Also do a comparative study with other schools in the same league to ascertain the real employment scenario.
3. Admit with and without financial aid
Now this is a tricky situation. You have received admits from two universities and one is offering you financial aid while the other expects you to fully fund your education. While you may be lured to go with the one offering aid, just consider a few things before making the final decision. If the university offering you aid is less than 20 places in position than the one not proposing any aid, rethink on your decision. If the ranking of two universities are close, consider the university which is offering you assistantship.
Better college ranking has a lasting effect in shaping your career. You stand a better chance of getting jobs and internships if your college ranking is higher. Moreover, you will get better exposure in a higher ranked university. However if the difference between the two colleges is insignificant, you can go ahead with the one offering you financial aid. No one minds easing out financial worries after all.
To make your life easy, start with checking the rating for the colleges in question. General ranking of the colleges may not give you a complete picture therefore you need to delve deeper and check program specific rankings. Once you establish how much value the program will add to your aspirations, go ahead and consider the next factor.
Choosing a university means choosing a city too for minimum of two years. You might want to consider all aspects such as temperature, weather, crowd and location, whether the study location is a metro or countryside well in advance so that you do not have any adjustment issues later on.
6. Acquaintances and relatives near the University
You feel more safe and confident, if you already know someone in the location that you are going to, for your further studies. They might not be at your beck and call always; still having them around gives you a sense of security.
Graduating from a good college also means joining the wider and better network of professionals. Your seniors and peers are going to be a great help in the future advancement of your career. By the sheer virtue of belonging to an elite network of professionals, your brand value will take a huge leap.
Study abroad is a phenomenally expensive undertaking and you must carefully consider the above mentioned factors before you seal your decision.