Choosing a perfect college/university is all about finding a place where you feel like you belong. Through this article, we intend to help you through the selection process of the institute where you would like to study – which is considered by many people to be one of the toughest processes. Always remember, the college/university search doesn’t have to begin and end with the name brand; however you need to examine yourself, your reasons for going to a particular institution and some important questions you should consider asking yourself such as:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you want out of your life – something tangible or intangible?
- Are you socially self-sufficient or do you need warm, familial support most of the time?
Because it is very common amongst the college students especially who do not plan their career, they end up selecting the fields which do not match their interest and skill set. Therefore, it is highly recommend talking about these questions with your family, close associates or a career counsellor as they can be the best help in such important decision making matters because they know you well.
There are many universities available in Pakistan to choose from – some are well known and some are less known, both large and small universities have their pros and cons. Here are some advices that will help you to find the university that goes well with your persona and fulfils your learning needs.
Make list of universities:
First step is to list down the best universities that offer your field of interest. This is very important and most fun filled part of the process since at this step you come across lot of amazing things that each institute has to offer you. Most private and public universities have websites with great photo galleries and video tours that will virtually take you to the university and will give you an idea about the place. So you can surf on the internet and find plenty of universities to consider. It is a very efficient way of making that first cut. Discuss the universities on your list with a career counsellor, if possible. They can guide you about your possibility of getting accepted and how you can improve your chances of getting admission in a university of your choice. For even more strong reality check, approach your elderly friends and friends of friends who go to those universities or have studied from there. They can guide you well through their good and bad experiences at those universities. Likewise, university alumni groups are very commonly available for help on the social media websites. You may consider dropping your questions to them and get so some feedback about the university. But remember, it’s not necessary that your experience would be as good or bad as their experiences. They should be one factor of assessment and it is imperative to see the over all picture instead of relying on just one source of information.
Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) recognition:
Once you have filtered a few good universities, make sure to verify if those universities are in the list of universities recognised by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Since HEC is responsible for higher education policy, quality assurance, degree recognition, development of new institutions and uplifting existing institutions in Pakistan. And it also facilitates the development of higher educational system in Pakistan. Therefore, HEC recognition is of prime importance. This will save you from ending up studying at universities with low credentials.
Make tours to universities:
You simply can’t rely on the sentiments of others or a website to tell what a university is really like. Make sure you personally visit and inspect each university on your list specially the faculty or the department where you intend to apply because admission brochures, websites and participating in open house sessions are going to put the university’s best face forward. So schedule an overnight visit whenever possible. You may need to ask a few probing questions to the admissions officer or do a little research about university’s achievements to get enough information to make a fully informed decision about your university.
Admission and grading criteria:
Every university has set criteria for admissions and assessments. Let’s first look in to the nitty-gritty of admission criteria for different type of universities. In public universities, undergraduate admission has been a straightforward process. In order to get admission in a public university, students generally rank their majors in order of preference and submit their transcripts to the institution or provincial application service for evaluation. In majority of the cases, acceptance is based entirely on marks, with potential for elevation depending on what province an applicant may be from. Applicants in-province typically have much less stringent grade requirements than out-of-province applicants. Most of the private and some public universities hold entry tests which are followed by interviews. They also have fixed merit criteria as well.
Once you are sure that your selected choices are recognised by HEC then you must inquire about the graduation rates of those universities. By graduation rates it means number of students graduating every year. Having a high graduation rate not always means the university is good so you must find out the reason behind it. The universities that have tougher admission criteria have higher graduation rate as they take students with outstanding academic record which are most likely to do well through out their studies at the university. However, tougher grading criteria may offset high graduation rate. Universities with open or non-selective admission criteria will often have low graduation rates. Although, these universities provide an important role by making university accessible to all but students with low merit may not be able to cope up with tough grading criteria. A university that has tough admission as well as grading criteria and still has high graduation rate mainly indicates that the quality of education at the institute would be good. High profile faculty and academically bright students adding more value to the learning environment at the institute thus facilitates students to get through the tough examination criteria and leading to high graduation rates.
Student to faculty ratio:
The student to faculty ratio is also an important figure to consider. The lower the ratio, the more likely it is that your professors will be able to give you individual attention. When you find a student to faculty ratio over 20 to 1, you’ll often discover that classes are crowded, the faculties are overworked and your opportunities for one-on-one interaction with your professors are greatly diminished. However, some universities deliver excellent education with a higher student to faculty ratio as well. You should feel free to ask about class size when visiting campus or talking with an admissions officer.
Cost and availability of financial aid:
You will not deny that education has become overly expensive and is expected to become more costly in the coming years as well. Even if you have already made the arrangements for the funds for your degree programme, it is good to be aware of the financial aids or scholarships available at the university and most importantly the eligibility criteria of each. Such opportunities can either be merit and/or need based. A wise student always has a backup plan.
Academic facilities and good computing infrastructure:
At times during your university education, you are likely to struggle with the subjects you are learning. So as you choose the university to which you’ll apply, make sure you look into university’s academic support services too. These mainly include writing centre, learning labs, library, tutorial classes, seminars and book banks that lend great help towards your academic growth other than the support from your faculty.
It is also important to know about good computing resources available at the University Academic Work or personal entertainment. Think through following questions:
- How many public computing labs are available for students and what are the hours during which it can be accessed?
- Do the labs have all the specialised hardware and software needed to support academic work?
- Are the professors taking advantage of emerging technologies like open class online applications, multimedia, AV aids, etc?
- Are laptops, projectors, cameras, and other relevant equipments available for students to borrow?
Final Part will be posted on coming Wednesday