You've probably heard it over and over again: choosing a uni is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. And this is true. The place you go to study for your course or degree will have a lasting impact on your personal life and career or work.
But the truth is that many students choose a uni based on emotion or a very limited criterion - sometimes just gut feeling. While this doesn't stop you from academic or career achievement, such an important decision probably should be subject to higher scrutiny. You need to use every piece of information available in making the best decision.
If you're shopping for universities, you should consider a wide variety of factors such as location, cost, academic quality, campus safety, and other factors that matter before making a decision. As you narrow down your list of schools, you will need to dig deeper to ask more detailed questions and find out if the school is right for you. In this article, we shall see some essential factors to consider when choosing a university or college.
Does The School Have Proper Accreditations?
Before spending any time researching a university, first, make sure you check if it is accredited. This means that the National University Commission (NUC) must have reviewed the school and its curriculum to verify that it makes the cut of basic academic standards for higher education. You also need to ensure that the course of your choice is available and has the proper accreditations.
Most schools will readily provide this information on their website, usually on the About or Admission pages. If you are having trouble finding it, call or email the admissions department. In a university, specific colleges, departments or programs may also have their specific accreditations. This ensures that employers and other higher education institutions recognise your course or degree.
Geographical Location Of The University
Most students have an idea about if they want to stay close to their home or not. Do you want to live in a big city or somewhere quieter? Is a party campus a fun part of the college experience or just a distraction? How about the weather and the culture of the region?
Perhaps most importantly, can you afford to go out of state, especially to a more expensive big city? We'll discuss the cost in more detail below, but choosing to attend uni outside of your home country will automatically make things more expensive.
Geographical location can have a significant impact on your overall uni experience. Even if you love school, it can be difficult if you hate where it is located. If you are looking at schools in a particular city, make sure you really like it there. If you haven't visited in a while, you should probably plan a trip to have a good look at the place.
Also, consider crime and safety not only for the city but also for the campus. Almost every major institution of higher learning will provide crime statistics for the campus, and many will include surrounding areas. You can think of the university as a safe and fun place, and it is. However, crime does occur, and crime rates vary from institution to institution in Nigeria.
What Is The Size Of The School?
There are hundreds of quality schools in Nigeria, and they come in almost all sizes. The size of a school can tell you a lot about it. You probably have an idea of the size of the school you want to attend, such as the type of school and geographic location.
Bigger universities usually have more of the best resources in Nigeria. This may include campus facilities such as student hostels, libraries, computer access, health centres, athletic facilities, culture and entertainment. Large research universities also tend to have large budgets to invest in research and development laboratories for faculty, classroom technology, science, engineering, and other fields of study.
Perhaps most importantly, large institutions often offer more academic options, including hundreds of different graduate and postgraduate courses and programmes. This can be particularly attractive if you haven't settled in a course or want to pursue an interdisciplinary course.
Small colleges have many things that larger institutions cannot do. Many colleges remain small so that they can specialise in a particular discipline within liberal arts education or even liberal arts. Campus and Classroom sizes will be smaller, and the overall uni experience is generally much more intimate.
Remember, a small and cosy school can still be found in a big, vibrant city. And a large public university can be found in a small town. It is your job to find out which of them will be best or work well for you.
What Is The Overall Cost?
Other factors may be more important to you personally, but ultimately the cost factor may overshadow them all. There are a lot of education options out there, and all require a substantial financial investment. You need to consider your financial capability before making your final decision or settling down on a particular choice.
Private schools are generally more expensive than public colleges and universities. However, private schools tend to have larger donations and provide more grants and scholarships. This can even cut the cost of education to some extent.
Tuition is only half the total cost of attending university. Housing, food, transportation, books and other living costs contribute to a higher "tag price". If you're looking for schools in expensive Nigerian cities like Lagos or Abuja, you'll likely pay 2 or 3 times more rent.
Academic quality is even lower on this list, but not just because it matters. It's more specific. The factors listed above will help you narrow down your list. Academic quality can be the determining factor in your final decision. One thing that happens when you search for universities is that you learn more about the school. Searching will help inform your ideas about what you want to study and what you want to gain from your uni or college experience. As your list gets shorter and shorter, you should pay more attention to the quality of education offered at each school.
If your secondary school (high school) offers guidance counselling, you should benefit from it. A counsellor will sit with you and help you clarify what you are looking for. They will also have literature and resources for you, including reviews of different universities and academic programs.
Take some time to do your online research. Not only do you read general descriptions of Nigerian universities, but you also look at specific departments and programs. You should be able to find plenty of information about almost any school. Rankings are fun but can be misleading. Publications have their criteria for determining rankings. They may have different views of what is essential in a university than you. Looking through the rankings doesn't hurt, but you'll want to dig deeper.
What Is The Condition Of The Campus Environment?
The environment on campus is another important aspect of your university or college experience. Do you want to be in a big city or the countryside? Would you like to live in a student hostel or find your flat? Are you worried about security on and off? Campus life ranges from university to university, and for some people, it can be just as important as academics in shaping their experiences.
Find out what you can do about campus culture while researching Nigerian universities. Some schools have a vibrant campus community filled with events and student organisations. Others are suburban schools where very few students live on campus and participate in extracurricular activities.
The best thing you can do is visit the campus in person. It will allow you to walk the grounds, feel the energy, taste the food (literally) and most importantly, ask detailed questions. You can even sit for some classes.
Some students with financial means are even planning a second campus visit. This is not an option for everyone - even a visit is expensive - but it shows how important it is to see the school with your own eyes. You will spend four (or more) years of your life in this place. You need to make sure it's where you want to be.
In conclusion, if you carefully weigh all these factors, you will eventually find your way through the process. Take it step-by-step. Start in general and become more specific as you learn more about yourself and your options. In the end, what started as hundreds of options will narrow down to just a few, and you will find a great university or college of your choice.