The View From Campus: How to Research U.S. College Options

This month, Marci Fradkin,, Director of International Outreach and Admission, at Valparaiso University in Indiana, discusses how international students can best approach finding the college or university in the United States that is right for them.

Q: Describe your institution in 5 words?
A: Experiential learning, Connections, Result Driven, Friendly, and Beautiful.

Q: For what is your institution best known overseas?
A: Being a STEM paradise and being a top 20 undergrad engineering program.

Q: What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)?
A: Undergrad-Engineering, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Psychology, and International Relation.  Grad-MS Information Technology, MBA,  MS Analytics and Modeling, Public Health, and MS Economics and Finance.

Q: What are the top 5 countries represented at your college?
A: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Nigeria, and China

Q: How does your institution use an IELTS result in the Admission Process?
A: We use it for undergrad and graduate admission and it is taken into consideration in awarding scholarships for both.

Q: What is the most significant challenge most international students have when considering the U.S. for post-secondary education?
A: What is the best fit university for me, because we have over 4,000 universities in the US.

Q: How far ahead should students start the planning process if they are planning to come to the U.S. for study?
A: I recommend students start their planning for studies overseas in their sophomore year so they have time to research university options and to prepare to have the proper courses.  Also that will give students time to prepare for taking test and to save money.

Q: What factors should students use to narrow their range of choices from over 4000 accredited colleges and universities down to a manageable shortlist of institutions? 
A: I always encourage students to look at the success of the graduates, for instance Valparaiso University 97% job or graduate school placement.  I also encourage student to look at class size, Valparaiso average class size is 19, student to faculty ration, we are 11:1, and to look for research and internship opportunities are available.

Q: If international students come across self-described “liberal arts colleges” in their search what do they need to know about these institutions?
A: Liberal Arts Colleges can have strong STEM programs, they teach students to make connection in their education, and they teach their students to be leaders in their fields.

Q: What kinds of students can be successful or “good fits” for liberal arts colleges in the United States?
A: The student who is a best fit for liberal art college are inquisitive, like to make connections, and to be part of a community.

Finding the Right U.S. College For You

Image courtesy of Wilson Hui via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

With thousands of U.S. colleges and universities to choose from, finding the right one for you can be a difficult task. Firstly, there’s huge choice in terms of type of institution, whether it’s private, liberal arts or big public colleges. But there are other criteria you should consider before applying as an international student.

 

Here are some of the ways you can narrow your search.

 

Find what’s important for you

Like with any major decision, some real thought needs to go in to what you want to get out of your university experience. It’s especially important for international students to think about this as you’re going outside your comfort zone for a few years in a new country.

Knowing what you want should apply to all aspects of your choice of college – not just the prestige of the institutions. Here are a few categories that you can use to make your list.

  • Your budget (for the duration of your studies, including holidays). It’s no use choosing a college that you won’t be able to afford. First, calculate your overall maximum budget and any scholarships/funding you might have.

 

  • College standing. It’s still important to go for the best college that you can, so include choices that you have the qualifications for (including IELTS band score), and will be noticed when you come to look for jobs.

 

  • Job prospects. Apart from the standing of the university helping your job prospects, there may be particular places in the U.S that are better than others for you. If you’re a software developer, you’re more likely to find a job close to you if you choose to study in California, rather than Wyoming.

 

  • Area. Do you want to live on a campus, or in a big city? It can make a huge difference to your life and options during the holidays. You may also want to see more of the rest of the country, so a place that’s too remote might not be for you. Make sure you’re clear about where you won’t go.

 

  • Extra-curricular. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside of the classroom too, so you should keep in mind your hobbies and interests and which colleges offer the most for you.

 

Once you’ve got your list you can get to work on researching colleges and narrowing your list further.

Refer back to our recent View From Campus post for more on researching U.S. colleges.

 

 

 

Apps That Make University Life Easier (Part 1)

Image from Esther Vargas via Flickr (CC 2.0)

 

University life can be frantic and exhausting, particularly for foreign students. There’s so much to do, and so little time! From attending lectures and making notes to just unwinding after class, it’s sometimes difficult to stay on top of things.

 

Don’t fret though, because mobile technology is here to save you. Here are some applications that can be useful, both inside and outside classroom.

 

  1. Evernote 

This is the ideal platform to manage whatever information you collect at university, in the form of “notes”. These can be pieces of text, handwritten notes, excerpts from web pages, images, or audio files. What’s more, Evernote supports most operating systems, so you can use it on a device of your choice.

 

Among other things, it also lets you create to-do lists, set reminders, and even share your stuff with others. And the best part – you can locate any piece of information with ease because there are different ways to search for the notes you’ve made.

 

  1. Google Drive

A file storage service provided by Google, this is one place where you can store all your documents. In other words, it’s this huge online cabinet that can hold a lot of virtual files of different shapes and sizes. Once uploaded, files can be viewed, edited, or shared instantly. Google Drive for Education, a later version designed for schools, offers a set of tools for classroom collaboration.

 

Considering that Google apps are widely used in the workplace, being able to use them fluently will help students build career readiness.

 

  1. Wikipedia

An online encyclopaedia that’s available absolutely free, Wikipedia, or Wiki, has something on just about everything under the sun. At the last count, it had over 5 million English articles, and that number continues to grow. So, as part of university work, if you need to have some generalised information on any topic, Wiki is the place to visit.

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

frantic
Form : adjective
Meaning : done quickly, especially in a way that is not well organised
Example : The firemen made a frantic attempt to save people from the fire.

 

unwind
Form : verb
Meaning : to stop worrying and start to relax
Example : After a long day’s work, Sam likes to unwind for some time.

 

on top of (something)
Form : phrase
Meaning : be in control of what is happening
Example : It’s important to stay on top of things when you manage a large team.

 

lend a hand
Form : phrase
Meaning : to help someone
Example : Can you please lend me a hand with this bag, it’s very heavy?

 

 

readiness
Form : noun
Meaning : the state of being prepared for something
Example : Schools can help build career readiness in children by teaching them computer skills.

 

under the sun
Form : phrase
Meaning : used to emphasize that something includes a large number of things
Example : He has tried everything under the sun to lose weight, but it just hasn’t happened.

 

at the last count
Form : phrase
Meaning : according to the latest information regarding the numbers of something
Example : He had hit 47 goals for the season at the last count.

 

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