It’s that time of the year again - people are receiving offers from universities… hopefully! So whether you’re in year 13 or have just started thinking about applying to universities, this article might prove to be useful for you.
The first step for choosing where to apply is to decide which countries look most attractive to you in terms of universities. The US and UK both have a plethora of excellent universities, but there are very good options in Canada, Italy, France, the Netherlands and even our very own Switzerland. In fact, you will find great universities anywhere around the world. Keep in mind that most universities have a study abroad program which will allow you to travel to many different countries for a semester abroad, so the location of your university does not matter too much.
Now that you have an idea of which locations you want to go to, think about what you want to do. For those of you who want to go into medicine or law or art/music/film, you need to know for certain because those subject choices are very specific and often have different deadlines to other subject choices.
Now is the time you need to be realistic with yourself. Are you a student who excels at school and gets 7s all around? Are you more of a 5-6 kind of person? Are you in or are you planning on going into the DP or the CP? These are all things you need to consider when looking at universities. Based on that, go online or to Dr Grant, the school’s guidance counsellor, and start looking at university options. For those of you getting 5s and 6s, maybe the Ivy Leagues and Oxbridge aren’t for you. For those of you doing CP art, perhaps a university with a strong art focus is better.
This brings me to my next point. Do not apply based on rankings. It might end in three or four years of misery for you. For example, those of you who take the DP and get 7s all around, you are probably thinking of applying to all the universities in the top 20 of the world. But if you are a student who loves to party, the University of Chicago, for example, will be a terrible choice for you because, even though it is very highly ranked, it is known to be full of introverted bookworms. Moreover, most university rankings look at the university as a whole— MIT is ranked as the best university in the world but if you are a film student, it probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
One thing I would strongly advise is to read about the stereotypes of universities and watch videos about life as a student there. You might be surprised — for example, I bet you didn’t know MIT hosts the best parties in Boston. I cannot stress how important it is for you to know your university inside out, particularly its life outside academics, before applying.
So to conclude:
Choose locations where you would like to go to university
Explore the universities there, keeping in mind your goals, interests and the courses they offer
Decide if you realistically have the grades to get there
Research on life outside of academics - you might be surprised at what you find!
If you have done all of these and are pleased with the universities you have found, go ahead and apply!