Picking the RIGHT University for Me!

May 1st is just around the corner and this is the time when US universities are expecting you to make a decision on where you will be attending for this coming fall.  Having worked in education for the past 25 years, I have seen some poor decisions because parents and students are simply going with ranking or “where their friends are attending.”

The key to knowing where you should go is to first know what you want and where you want to see yourself in 4-5 years.  Ranking of course is important, but that should not be the only factor.

Here are some other factors to keep in mind:


  1. Your acceptances. Re-examine your acceptance options.  Evaluate the highlights of each institution and write them down.  Then determine what is important to you based on the highlights of each institution.  You will need to be very honest with yourself and learn to discuss your decision process with your parents.  Hopefully, both of you come to the same decision.
  1. Location- You need to make sure the institution you have picked is where you can spend the next 4-5 years. Look at the surrounding area and possible job opportunities (this includes internship) when you graduate.
  1. Student services. Find out all of the student services offered at the university.  Carefully examine the International Student Services Department.  Talk to existing students if you can see how they support international students.  Also, you should have a balanced life with academics.  Are there sports and clubs you can join?
  1. Investigate job connections and alumni support for international students. Look at the Career Center and see what the success rate is to help students land a job after graduation.  As an international student, it is more difficult due to visa barriers.  However, employers only want to hire from institutions that graduate good alumni.  A high job placement rate usually correlates to a good institution or program.
  1. Research into the department. The reputation of a university and a specific department that you wish to major in can be completely different.  A high ranking university may have a low ranking department and vice-versa.  Make sure you do your research about the department you want to join.  Also, every university has different policies for applying into the specific major or department.  If competition is very selective to get into a major, this is something you will need to consider.
  1. Tuition Costs. A university that charges more money does not mean it is better.  Do not correlate quality of education to price.  The key question to ask is, “What is the value of the education and costs?”  Talk with your parents to make this decision as they are the ones paying for your education.


  1. Read the acceptance packet Do exactly what the university wants you to do.  Deadlines to submit certain documents are not negotiable.  If you have any questions, please make sure to contact them directly or contact IEM so we can help you with the process.
  1. Be in touch with your International Advisor. Send them an email that you will be coming and look forward to meeting with them.  Build a relationship with them.  Ask them for any scholarships, on-campus jobs, etc.  They should be your connector to the university.
  1. F-1 visa. Know the rules and documents you will need to transfer your visa from high school to the university.  Don’t procrastinate.
  1. Final transcripts. Seniors, now is not the time to take it easy and let your grades drop.  The university will ask for final transcripts and if your grades fall, they may retract their acceptance.  Universities want to see that you have the endurance and motivation to do well and your last quarter/semester will help them determine if you can handle the university workload.

There is no “wrong” path in the decision process.  The key is to be honest with yourself and know what you want.  If you are simply just wanting a good degree from a good university, this is not enough in today’s world to be competitive.  Dig deeper and do your research and weigh all your options.  If you do not have many options, then make the best decision.

Good luck with your decision and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions. Email us: [email protected]

Our IEM 2017 graduates have proudly been accepted by the following universities, and the list continues:



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