Often times, prospective students like yourself rely heavily on university rankings to pick their colleges. While these provide a quantitative gauge of how good universities are, it is important to consider other factors too.
1) Accuracy of University Rankings
University rankings publishers use differing criteria to measure how "good" universities are. On one hand, QS rankings takes academic research into greater account than pedagogy. Times High Education ranking, on the other hand, includes several measures of teaching quality. Thus, it is crucial to understand the methods underpinning these ranking systems and take the results with a pinch of salt.
This is the first question you should be asking yourself before examining the university's rank because it will make or break your college experience. Consider what you want out of college - a great social life, academic excellence or a great track record in your chosen sport - and pick a school which suits the college life you wish for.
3) Academic Program
Some schools are known for specific academic programs but may not be ranked highly. If you wish to study Humanities for instance, you might want to consider a Liberal Arts college instead. Likewise, it you wish to pursue Film Studies / Performing Arts, then pick a school which is predominantly recognised for that.
The location of your school can determine what internship opportunities you get and where you will work eventually. For instance, studying in a college near Silicon Valley will provide you with lots of opportunities to be involved in the tech/startup scene.
At the end of the day, it is important to do well in a school that you can thrive in than do badly in a good school. Consider the aforementioned points and pick your schools wisely!
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