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Which Offer Should I Accept?

16 December 2019

 

At this time of year students are busy finalizing their university applications.  Many students incorrectly think that once this task is done, the hard work is over; however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  After deciding which universities to apply to and submitting the applications comes perhaps the most difficult task – other than waiting for the acceptances to come through - deciding which offer to accept.  

There are many factors to be taken into consideration when choosing the university where the next four years of the student’s life will be spent.  Just as all students are unique, so too are all universities, each with different attributes that appeal to different types of students.  No university can be outstanding in all areas and no university can meet the needs and wants of all students.  Therefore, when choosing a university, students need to look carefully at what they want out of and need from university and choose a university that best matches those needs and wants. 

Many of those needs and wants are very obvious.  For example, the language of instruction, the program and courses offered at the undergraduate level, the degree offered, the style and quality of teaching at the undergraduate level, and the assessment and evaluation practices of the university are all key considerations.  However, there are many other practical factors that are equally important and should not be overlooked.  Other important practical factors include the  size of the university – large and impersonal or small and intimate; location – big city or small town or a different country; and layout of the campus – enclosed ‘community’ or spread throughout a large city, for example 

These last three factors may not seem as important as the more academic ones but they may be more important in the long run.  Research abounds in the relationship between emotional well-being, student engagement, and academic success.  For example, a less outgoing student may find a large university intimidating; this can, in turn, have a negative impact on self-esteem, student engagement, and academic learning and success.  A student who is comfortable in his or her learning environment is more likely to succeed.  The most resilient student can find the first year of university challenging; minimizing factors that can lead to unease or discontent can contribute to a positive first year experience. 

One other factor to consider is reputation.  Students and parents often look at the reputation of the university when determining which universities to apply to and which offer to accept; however, it is important when looking at the reputation to look specifically at what that reputation is based. For example, if the area in which the university has established a good reputation does not apply to the program that the student is interested in, or the level of education – undergraduate rather than graduate studies - then reputation shouldn’t play as great a role in determining the suitability of the university.

There are many factors to be considering when determining which offer to accept, and in turn, which university to attend.  This is a very important decision that involves looking objectively at many different factors from different perspectives and weighing these against the wants and needs of the student to ensure that the university is the best fit for the student.