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Overwhelmed? Tips on selecting a University

October 9, 2017 
Guest Editor

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ first Schleddentag Cardboard Sled Race took place Saturday west of Kelly Shorts Stadium on the hills near Lots 63 and 64. Students raced their homemade sleds built with cardboard and duct tape until they disintegrated. Organizers hope to make it an annual event. Central Michigan University Photo by Steve Jessmore

It’s time to choose a university.  It’s time to take a big step toward your future.  These are big decisions for you as a university bound student, but with so many options, how do you decide where to go.


To start, make a list of your priorities when choosing a school.  Is the location of a school important to you?  Do you want to go to a large university or a smaller campus?  What kind of extracurricular actives are important to you?  Does scholarship play a large or small role in your university decision?


Establishing what is important to you will help you rank your university options and make sure you are focusing on the most important pieces to you as an individual student.  There is not one school which is the best choice for every student; it’s a very personalized choice, and you need to decide what is important to you.


University is first and foremost about your education.  The whole purpose of higher education is to gain knowledge and a degree which will prepare you well for your future.


With over 200 degree programs, Central Michigan University has a wide range of areas to study for the decided and undecided student.   If you know what you want to study, you don’t have to wait until your second or third year in school to begin taking your major courses.  You can jump right into your area of interest.  If you are still trying to decide what to study, you may take some of your foundational and exploratory courses to help you narrow down your focus.


When choosing a university, select one which provides support and counseling to students who are still investigating careers and majors and for students who decide to change their major.  At CMU, there is a dedicated career services team to lend a hand in everything from choosing an area of study and potential career options to interview techniques, resume building and networking with employers.  Beyond program and career counseling, CMU has many other support networks to help students succeed.  Need someone to review your research paper?  No problem.  The writing center at CMU will proof read your paper and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.  Struggling with math?  No worries.  The math center will help you understand those complex math concepts.  Not sure where to find information about your research topic?  No issue.  The library staff will help direct you to endless articles and tools to help with your research. At CMU, you’re not alone; you’ll have many people and departments right there to help you along the way.


University is also about growing and developing as a person outside of your academics.  When choosing a university, be sure to consider what goes on outside of the classroom too.  Do you want to be involved in athletics?  A cultural organization?  A musical group?  At CMU, there are 400+ student organisations on campus to provide students an opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom.  These organisations help students develop leadership skills and form relationships with various students around campus.  Often the skills students develop outside of the classroom are equally as important as the knowledge they gain inside the classroom.  A well-rounded student has developed both throughout their time at university.


Certainly consider ranking in your college decision, but don’t get too caught up on it.   There are various organisations which rank schools, and sometimes schools pay for a certain ranking.  Some schools aren’t ranked according to a certain organization just because they weren’t considered, not because they weren’t worthy of a ranking.  Instead consider a more holistic approach to your university search.
For example, CMU has been ranked the #1 Michigan college TV station for 15 years in a row, is in the top 25 in the nation for the Fashion Merchandising and Design program, and is a world leader in SAP certification.  But did you also know that CMU has a 91% overall job placement rate for undergraduate students?  Did you know that CMU’s student to faculty ration is 20:1 – students receive individualized attention from instructors.  Did you know that CMU’s Office of International Affairs will teach you how to canoe, help you obtain a Michigan driver’s license, and encourage you to become involved in one of the many cultural organizations on campus?  There is much more to CMU than good rankings; there are many other pieces that make CMU an exceptional university.


All-in-all, choose a university that is a good fit for you as an individual and where you can obtain the education, experience, and support you desire.   Once you’ve made your decision, give yourself a pat on the back, take a deep breath, and get ready for the exciting new adventure ahead of you.


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