Blog: Choosing the right university

What are the most important factors to consider?

(Source: British International School Bratislava)

Oxford, Harvard & Cambridge are just a few names which may spring to mind when considering universities and colleges.

At The British International School Bratislava our motto, to ‘be ambitious’, encourages students to aim high, despite the staggering level of competition from extraordinary students spanning the globe. Although many of our students realise this astonishing feat, we believe that the ‘right university’ for our students is not necessarily the one that ranks highest in this year’s league tables. It is one factor amongst many, which must be meticulously studied when making one of, if not the, most important decision of their lives to date.

So, what are the most important factors to consider when making that all important decision?

Research, research, research

Does the university course excite you and do you have an aptitude for it? Studying at university should be an experience which excites and inspires, rather than simply a ‘hoop jumping’ exercise en route to a desirable career.

Is there a demand for graduates who study that particular course or is it producing graduates in a field at risk of automation? According to a study by McKinsey & Company, around one in three workers in the developed world could relinquish some of their responsibilities, if not their entire job, to robots, machines and artificial intelligence by 2030.

Related articleBlog: Learning differently, learning effectively Read more 

This worrying forecast isn’t a new or novel challenge facing society. Ask the Luddites, a band of English workers who destroyed machinery in cotton and woollen mills in the early 1800s because they believed their jobs were under threat. Ensuring students are aware of the changes and are nimble and dynamic enough to adjust their path based on the current demand is of paramount importance. The goal today is to develop the skills, expertise and experience to be able to move when required, regardless of the industry or employer.

Location, location, location

From climate & culture to proximity and links with industry and market leaders, selecting the right country and region is of fundamental importance. The recent restrictions to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions will also pose questions for prospective students. The world no longer seems to be ‘shrinking’ due to globalisation and the acceleration of interdependence. Students will now think twice before committing to study thousands of miles away from family and friends, when travelling just a few kilometres across one of our many local borders is not permitted.

Conversely, ‘study from home’ is an option which many students are taking during this pandemic. I spoke to a current second year student ambassador representing the University of Toronto at a recent university fair, and she had not even set foot in Toronto or even Canada! It is quite conceivable that her entire degree is completed remotely from Belgrade. These changes will present both opportunities and threats based on the individual circumstance of each student.

Having briefly dipped into a few of the factors which should be considered when choosing a university, it is evidently a complex and colossal task. At the British International School Bratislava our students are fortunate to have access to Bridge U, a world class university guidance platform which is a powerful tool that students use to not only inform and refine their choice of course and university, but also to track changes to the job market, attend live university fairs and prepare their university applications. It is a tool which makes a dauntingly mammoth task manageable, and dare I say it, enjoyable! Whatever decisions our students ultimately make, it must be one which is coming from a position that is both well informed and right for them.

Joshua Cuttell is the Careers and University Guidance Counsellor at The British International School Bratislava

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