Deciding to study abroad and start planning for it – raising money, for example – is the first step towards academic and professional success. The second is to decide where you want to join and then send in your application. School options abound and the selection process for entry is complex and costly.

At this time, of course, no one wants to make the wrong choice that they might later regret. But you must know that when it comes to choosing a university or college, there will never be a right or wrong decision. Choosing a university is like any other selection process. That is: it is not 100% guaranteed. There will always be risks and subjective issues involved. To reduce such risks you have to write an admission essay well, in order to do that you can research online for essay writing services to use.

This is not to say that you must sit waiting for a “divine sign” to decide. There are processes to consider, and the more information you get, the more likely you are to make a decision that meets your expectations and makes you happy. Choosing your dream university to study abroad is a task that requires some care. Much of it is based solely on scholarship, university name, and course. However, there are a few more selection criteria, which are fundamental as well.

Steps to choose your university/college abroad

1. Research institutions

Start by researching educational institutions in your area of interest. There are probably many colleges that you have never heard of, but which offer good courses. To do this search, one of the most effective sites is the College Board. You can also get information from the official page of the NCES.

If you are still wondering which career path to pursue – you don’t know which to choose among history, international relations or law, for example – look for universities that offer good programs in all three areas.

2. Know your wishes

Knowing yourself thoroughly is also critical. After all, to choose between two or more universities, you must first be clear what you expect from them. So stop and self-analyze your dreams, talents, and ambitions for the future. One tip is to write down your ideas and desires in a notebook and, whenever you feel necessary, consult these notes to see what your most immediate desires are.

3. Look at international rankings

If you followed the previous two steps, you are probably already clearer about what you are looking for in a university and have a wide list of institutions. To narrow this listing, it is important to look at international rankings. They are good guides for getting to know the prestige of a university, as long as they are used correctly: Many students err in looking at the top 10 positions in these rankings.

These universities are certainly excellent but also very competitive. So always look beyond the top 25. There are great universities, but they do not all have the same popularities as those in the top ranks. One must also know the methodology used in the ranking. Some evaluate very specific criteria, such as the amount of research done or the university’s worldwide reputation. Some reliable lists to consult are those from the British Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds.

To get to know the university from another perspective, it is worth taking a look at the rankings produced by the students themselves, such as Students Review and Niche (College Prowler). In them, students rate items ranging from faculty quality to campus nightlife.

4. Check what your course offers

After restricting the number of universities, it is time to evaluate what your course looks like specifically. Check if the degree has a more academic or professional focus, which subjects are part of the curriculum and whether you will be able to do research or internship in the college.

Also, research the available labs and background of your potential teachers. You need to know the differentials of each university in your area of interest. Oxford University’s chemistry lab, for example, has five floors and six research labs in different areas of the discipline. Reed University in Oregon has the only nuclear research reactor in the world that is operated by undergraduate students. Try to talk to university students too, especially those from your native country (if there are any).

library, books, education

5. Costs/Scholarships

The costs of graduation should be taken into consideration when deciding, especially if you need financial help to study abroad. At Harvard, for example, an academic year costs between $115 and $125,000.

Check with the Financial Aid department of the universities of interest on how scholarship policies work. You can also seek information about organizations and foundations that can help you afford to study abroad.

When you finally have access to an open opportunity, you may need to write a scholarship essay. A great scholarship or admission essay goes a long way in helping you secure your admission or scholarship grants. However, if you’re not great at this, then you can research online for essay writing services to use.

6. Location x size

The location and size of the college will also determine your international experience. Most students tend not to care about it at first, but when they get to university, they realize how relevant it is. A shy and introverted student may feel very trapped in a class of 100 students, for example.

7. Employability

Well, you know who you are today. But who do you want to become when you finish this course you are about to apply for? A college course has to serve as a bridge or springboard between the person you are today and the person you want to become in the future. So look for information on the type of professionals alumni of this course have become. For example, if you are to start a degree, on the course website, you could have access to the alumni, their stories after they graduated from the course and even talk to them.

You could get information on how alumni viewed the applicability of the knowledge gained during the course in the labor market, and what positions they had reached after graduation. Most could have become business consultants – i.e., professionals and/or entrepreneurs. Therefore, you must take this assessment criteria into account when making your choice. So don’t spend so much time studying something that won’t help you become the professional you want to be.

8. Experience and systemic aspects

The distance learning culture has come with everything and it seems to be here to stay. But in terms of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the university must be able to provide practical experiences, contact with theory. That’s because a key point is networking, which you can extend with help from the university – going to places you never would, and meeting people you would never know, thanks to the university.

9. Respect for individuality

Many courses in Europe and the United States have already embraced this trend. That is, the student can learn and take the studies in his way and at his own pace. There are open-grid courses in which subjects can be chosen along the academic path. For example, baccalaureate courses can be like this. By the end of your college or university years, each student would have had customized learning experiences in the way they thought were best.