Choosing a university is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make in your lifetime and decision-making doesn’t always come easy — this can be daunting and stressful. However, like most major life decisions, figuring out what’s important to you and your future will help you make good decisions. Do your research and consider various factors to find the university and the study programme that best suit you and your aspirations and career goals.
The fundamental things that students need to consider are their interests, the strength of the faculty and the reputation of the university in their chosen field of study.
“The fundamental things that students need to consider are their interests, the strength of the faculty and the reputation of the university in their chosen field of study,” says education coach Sujit Sukumaran, who is also an adjunct faculty at University of West London.
Look at rankings
“Students should also look at the scholarship opportunities, funding and fees, campus experience, the brand name and world ranking of the university. Ranking is important, no matter whether you are opting for a terminal degree or the first in a series of degrees. The pedigree of a university matters a lot,” explains Sukumaran.
Dr Khyati Shetty, Head of Business and Humanities at Curtin University Dubai, echoes the same, as she says, “Research thoroughly on the university reputation and ranking as being an alumnus of a higher-ranked institution, gives students a professional head start in the job market.”
Research thoroughly on the university reputation and ranking as being an alumnus of a higher-ranked institution, gives students a professional head start in the job market.
Considering how a study programme can influence a student’s life after college is also critical when picking a major. “Find out about the university, the pedagogy, and the employability it offers before joining a degree programme,” says Dr S. V. Kota Reddy, Academic President, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Dubai Campus.
“Global ranking, recognition, international collaborations, and research-based curriculum are some of the other key aspects that add up to the value of a degree, and all students must take these metrics into consideration before taking their final call,” Dr Kota Reddy says, adding, “With the KHDA Higher Education Ratings being announced every year for the universities in Dubai, it has become easier for students and parents to research, compare and then make the right career decision.”
With the KHDA Higher Education Ratings being announced every year for the universities in Dubai, it has become easier for students and parents to research, compare and then make the right career decision.
While some students know exactly what they want to study after high schools, many pupils do not spend enough time to think through their decisions and they often head down a career path that’s just not right for them, say experts. This is where career counsellors can help young learners choose the right course at the right college based on their interests and aptitude.
Ask for advice
“Counsellors at MAHE Dubai are trained to first assess the personal choice and passion of the prospective students and offer them solutions accordingly to ensure the best fit,” says Dr Kota Reddy.
At Heriot-Watt University Dubai, its admissions office is available via phone, email and face-to-face (by appointment only) to guide prospective students and their families with course information, admin support, fees and charges, and scholarships and bursaries.
“We take prospective students through the different course options that match their profile and interests, in addition to sharing information on the knowledge and skills acquired during the duration of the degree programme and their future career prospects,” says Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director — Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications (MRAC), Heriot-Watt University Dubai. “These help them arrive at a decision.”
Curtin Dubai encourages prospective students to interact with the heads of school and the registrar. “This gives them an understanding of the course content and the potential career paths associated with each,” says Dr Shetty.
Find the right fit
To make the most of your university experience, select a school that aligns with the educational and success growth plan of a student, says Hanil Haridas, Executive Director, Westford University College.
The university should be able to provide the knowledge, exposure, skills and the environment for a student to excel in their personal and professional life. Students at Westford are offered extensive support throughout their learning journey. Our focus is on delivering the best learning experience.
“The university should be able to provide the knowledge, exposure, skills and the environment for a student to excel in their personal and professional life. Students at Westford are offered extensive support throughout their learning journey. Our focus is on delivering the best learning experience.”
Westford offers a range of industry-relevant programmes in the UAE. “We focus on the global best practices of pedagogy along with contemporary training methods, powered by contextualised and personalised e-learning experience through sophisticated technology and platforms.”
Check digital infrastructure
As students return to classrooms, blended learning will be an integral part of the post-pandemic pedagogy. So students must check if the university has the right infrastructure to support online learning and deliver a rounded learning experience. “In the current scenario, a robust tech infrastructure has become crucial for any degree programme. Students must assess the agility of the university in offering the programme in a blended, face-to-face, or online mode before taking admission,” says Dr Kota Reddy.
With admission deadlines just around the corner, it’s easy to get stressed about college application. How can prospective students maximise their chances of success? Knowing what colleges look for in a candidate and how applications are evaluated will help students stand out in the applicant pool.
“In general, admissions committees look at how a student can add value to the university/cohort or campus diversity, passion and interest of the student, and a decent academic record with new-age digital and other green-field skills,” says Sukumaran. Look at the entrance requirements of the course and college to ensure you have the skills to complete the course.
“Entry requirements vary depending on the programme,” says Roper-Browning. “Admission to our programmes is by individual assessment. Experience and skills are also valued alongside formal qualifications. We also look for evidence of motivation, understanding of the aims of a proposed programme of study and referees’ reports, etc, before proceeding with an offer.”
Common mistakes in choosing a degree
“There are many students who wait until their graduation to make a final decision about courses they want to pursue. This usually results in having to hurry through the process, being unable to undertake adequate research about the curriculum and what kind of career it results in and more,” says Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director — Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications (MRAC), Heriot-Watt University Dubai. “The choices have long-term impact, and rushing through the selection process could potentially result in making the wrong decision.
A common mistake we notice is young students going along with their parents’ choices rather than taking a decision independently.
“Another common mistake we notice is young students going along with their parents’ choices rather than taking a decision independently. Sometimes this results in students being unable to cope with the programme and having to switch, which can be very stressful. This also results in the unfortunate loss of time, effort and money.”