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Selection Criteria

Academic Background

It is generally seen that one prefers to do a program where one already has some expertise. For instance, an undergraduate in Biochemistry, who has done a 3-year part-time commercial computer course, might prefer to do an MS in Bio-informatics. At the same time there are qualifying requirements set by each university for acceptance in a particular course. You also have to select a university that generally accepts your previous academic qualifications and grades.

However, one program where the academic background is less relevant is, obviously, the MBA. But there are high qualifying standards set by the universities.

Standardized Test Scores

Different universities and different programs have different criteria for standardized test scores such as GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/SAT/IELTS. You will either have to select a school and program on the basis of your scores, or work towards getting the school of your dreams by getting a good score.

Program Ranking

Going by the University ranks for selecting your school might be inappropriate if your intended program does not have a good reputation in university considered by you.

Intended Major

Again program rankings are useless, unless the University has a good standing in the area that you would want to specialize in.

Public/Private University

This is a key criterion for most students. A good Private University may be much more expensive, but generally better value in terms of quality of education and post education prospects. Whereas, a Public University shall strive and maintain set standards and would cost much less.

Accreditation

Before applying to any university make to check university is accredited.

Financial Aid/Scholarship

Merit Aid: Some schools have a history of dishing out large sums of money as financial aid to the students. While others have tight pockets and have a policy of not providing assistance of any kind. If you have financial difficulties in completing a course in the USA, you would have to limit your applications to those universities where you have maximum chances of getting aid.

Acceptance Rate

There is no point in applying to a University that accepts a very small percentage of the applicants, if you do not have the requisite credentials.

Geographical Preferences

City / rural: Apart from tuition fees, which will vary from place to place, even the living expenses will vary because of the areas in which they are located. As an illustration, Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech), Atlanta and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (UIUC) are both very good technical state schools, but GA Tech might entail much greater living expenses because it is located in Atlanta city. At the same time, a city location would offer better employment opportunities.

Campus Size

A very large campus entails increased expenses. Also, there would be more students graduating every year, and it is tougher to get a good placement thereafter. A very small campus on the other hand would be unheard of. Going to the right-sized campus will have a bearing on your entire career.

Number of International students enrolled

A greater number of International students means 2 things –
1. The school is already a hit with International students and
2. The school and its location provide facilities and services catering to the needs of the International student community.

Student/Faculty ratio
Placement rate

A University where a larger number of students are able to secure employment immediately after graduating is one that should definitely be preferred, if one is looking at a career in University Research.

Average starting salary

Does one need to explain the importance of this parameter!

On campus resources and services: Universities have a wide array of support services for the students. Some of these programs or offices can provide assistance in finding housing, improving one’s spoken or written English, and gaining information on health issues, including health insurance, tax issues, and personal and career counseling. The number and variety of support services can seem overwhelming. A safe assumption to make about any university is that is a student has a problem or a concern, there is probably an office or person who can help.

Other Factors

Safety issues:

A prime illustration shall be the University of Southern California – a wonderful school with a high acceptance ratio, and with good job placements and one that is located in one of the most crime-prone areas of Los Angeles!

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