Higher Education Commentary

How to Choose a College? (The best, most general piece of advice I can give)

So on the back of people asking excessively generic questions which were hard to answer without context, today someone asked me: How to choose a college? That was all. The person was asking on behalf of someone else. I didn’t even know who the someone else was.

But you know what? It’s not a bad question. I think more people need to know how to answer this question so I took the time to craft a response. My advice: talk to successful employers (those who run businesses that *don’t* depend on government funding) in the field you want to study in, ask them which colleges they prefer to hire from and why.

That’s the best answer I could give which was applicable to any field.

My reason for this is simple:

  1. The person choosing a college degree should pick a career direction first. I know lots of people change career directions over time, and that is perfectly OK, but having a clear idea of what you study in college is supposed to lead to will at least enable you to graduate with an outcome in mind. You still have a higher chance of landing somewhere compared to someone who had spent lots of money and time on undergrad studies only to come out and still be unsure of what to do.
  2. Asking employers which fit this profile ensures that you are getting input from people at the top of their fields. I don’t think it really matters whether they are indeed at the top of their fields, I know different people have different definitions of success – what matters is that they fit your definition of success at that particular point in time. It’s better than nothing. Ideally you should be getting input from several people who fit this profile, the more the better as this allows you to gain perspective from several angles.
  3. If you don’t know people who fit that profile, then it’s a better time to find someone now than later. It’s also a networking opportunity and also a chance to find out from the horses’ mouths whether this particular career choice is the right one for you. Too many people go into professions without really knowing what they are getting into, then they get shocked when reality does not meet expectation. Should you decide to pursue their advice, these people may also be the ones to provide you with the opportunity to get a first job after completing your studies!
  4. Even if you don’t plan to work for other people and go into self-employment, remember: these people know what works for the industry. Hence the chances are higher that the content taught in the courses / colleges they recommend will be more relevant to your career development! 

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