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Overwhelmed? Tips on selecting a University
Guest Editor

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 7.55.05 PMIt’s time to choose a university. It’s time to take a big step forward to brighten your future and career opportunities. These are big decisions for you as you continue your education and maybe step out of your current professional role and back into the classroom. There are so many options, how do you decide where to go?

To start, make a list of your priorities when choosing a school. Is the location of a school important to you? Do you want to go to a large university or a smaller campus? What scholarly area are the professors interested in and are they available to partner with in developing your scholarship and research? Are you looking for practical experience, if so what internship opportunities are offered? Do you want professors with more extensive research backgrounds, practical experience in the field, or both? What kind of extracurricular actives are important to you? Does scholarship availability play a large or small role in your university decision?

Establishing what is important to you will help you rank your university options and make sure you are focusing on the most important pieces to you as an individual student. There is not one school which is the best choice for every student; it’s a very personalised choice, and you need to decide what is important to you.

University is first and foremost about your education and how that will help you further your career and professional opportunities. Is a master’s degree a stepping stone to a doctoral degree for you or is your Master’s degree going to be your terminal degree? If you eventually want a doctoral degree it is important to seek a master’s degree that will prepare you for your doctoral studies.

For example, the primary focus of CMU’s MA in Economics is to prepare students for entry into doctoral programs of their choice. Two-thirds of the students view the MA in Economics program as a route to a PhD program and over the past two decades CMU graduates have achieved a very good placement record and earned financial support from highly desirable PhD programs. If you have no intention on continuing for a doctoral degree you may want to select a master’s program with an applied focus. CMU’s Master’s of Science Administration offers 14 concentrations with its central purpose being to prepare managers, administrators and supervisors in both private and public sector environments to function effectively within all types of organizations and at all levels of administration. Offering 70 graduate degree programs CMU has a wide range of programs for those seeking applied area studies, research, or to continue on for a doctoral degree whether at CMU or another institute.

When choosing a university, select one which provides support and counseling to students who are investigating careers opportunities.

At CMU, there is a dedicated career services team to lend a hand in everything from choosing a concentration area of study and potential career options to interview techniques, resume building and networking with employers. CMU is investing heavily in new building, enhanced classrooms, and state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities to make your graduate study experience complete. Beyond program and career counseling, CMU has many other support networks to help students succeed. Need someone to review your research paper? No problem. The writing center at CMU will proof read your paper and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. Struggling with math? No worries. The math center will help you understand those complex math concepts. Not sure where to find information about your research topic? No issue. The library staff will help direct you to endless articles and tools to help with your research. At CMU, you’re not alone; you’ll have many people and departments right there to help you along the way.

Certainly consider ranking in your college decision, but don’t get too caught up on it. There are various organizations which rank schools, and sometimes schools pay for a certain ranking. Some schools aren’t ranked according to a certain organization just because they weren’t considered, not because they weren’t worthy of a ranking. Instead consider a more holistic approach to your university search. For example, if you are interested in studying Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts (Electronic Media Studies, Production, or Management), CMU has been ranked the #1 Michigan college TV station for 15 years in a row. Interested in Apparel Product Development and Merchandising Technology; CMU graduates will be prepared for executive-level positions in apparel and textile development and merchandising, CAD technology, industry research and development and careers in higher education and government. That’s a lot of new open doors for your future. CMU is also a world leader in SAP certification; through our Masters of Science in Information Systems and/or MBA you could contribute to the analysis, design, development and maintenance of information systems in any business or organization worldwide.

What about when you not in class or working? Did you know that CMU’s Office of International Affairs will teach you how to canoe, guide you in obtaining a Michigan driver’s license, and encourage you to become involved in one of the many cultural organizations on campus? There is much more to CMU than good rankings; there are many other pieces that make CMU an exceptional university.

All-in-all, choose a university that is a good fit for you as an individual and where you can obtain the education, experience, and support you desire. Once you’ve made your decision, give yourself a pat on the back, take a deep breath, and get ready for the exciting new adventure ahead of you.